The Naming Ceremony of Aiyana:

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

Connecting to our African Heritage

In #Africantradition, the name represents the spirit in physical form. It connects the #spirit to the history and culture of the family he or she is born into. The name gives a sense of identity. The belief is, so much power lives within a name that only the tribe is given this honor. As beloved members of the tribe, the family uses this name to speak life and power into the person's divine purpose. This name is protected because those with negative intentions may try to steal this child's power. {Understandibly, I will not publicly share Aiyana's full name.}

Because the elders possess wisdom and a deeper understanding of life, they would bless the child with a name. Although our child's legal name was chosen by my fiance and myself, I entrusted my father with the duty of giving Aiyana a #spiritual name.

Nigerian traditions were adopted by our family because my grandfather, #ChiefJamesBey Hawthorne, spent a lot of time in Nigeria during his travels with the US Navy and as a performer. He played #African drums in the famous play Porgy & Bess, and worked with world-renowned musicians like Nina Simone, Michael Babatunde Olatunji, & Herbie Mann just to name a few. He also became a high priest in the #Nigerian Yoruba faith. My grandfather blessed me with this beautiful tradition by preforming my actual ceremony and giving me a spiritual name.


In the ceremony, several items are presented to the child to represent the many aspects of life. Seven white plates represent 7 #elements. White represents a blank canvas. The white plates, in essence, will take the shape of whatever element is placed on them. This represents the body to the spirit as our bodies are hollow vessels that carry our spirit.

The 1st plate represents the #spirit, #God, or the #infinite connection to #source #energy. It is left empty because it's a plane of existence that is beyond our physical realm. Each element is then given to the child and placed on the plate.

Water is the first element because it is second only to air as a vital source for our survival. Salt is the first mineral and 3rd item introduced. Salt is an essential mineral because without it we can not survive. Ginger is 4th and represents the nourishment our bodies need from food.

5th, we give a taste of bitterness as life is full of challenges & obstacles. The bitterness is usually represented by a Nigerian herb call Kola nut. By having her taste this bitter herb, we teach her to understand that challenges have their place and are an inevitable aspect of life.

Although life is filled with many hurdles, it is also filled with great happiness. Love, laughter, and joy are just a few feelings that spark the passion of life. We give Aiyana a taste of sweetness that represents the enjoyment of life. This is usually represented by honey or coconut nectar. On the 7th plate, we give her another vital mineral, oil.

My father was inspired to make an adaptation by adding a supplementary plate. The 8th plate would again represent the spirit. We come from source energy and this body is a temporary vessel, so we will one day return to that universal energy.

In addition to planting spiritual and #cultural roots for Aiyana, I hoped this experience would inspire all who attended, those who were only able to attend in spirit, and anyone reading this post. Many of my fiance's family was so inspired by this experience that they would like to have a similar #namingceremony of their own. TWO of the teenage cousins asked my father if naming ceremonies could be done for older children. Although this event is usually done within the first year of a child's life, I think it's even more meaningful that she is choosing this experience at an older age. She said, "I want a name that I can stand on."


The cultural seeds have been planted. The curiosity was sparked. The youth is seeking out more knowledge and understanding of their history. Beyond what they've been taught about themselves in this country, they see we are so much more. It is another start to rebuilding our culture as experiences like this touch the lives of our people. This is the new #viral sensation.

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