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Embracing our values makes for responsible parenting

BY: Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond

I met a cute girl at a party recently and wanted to make friends with her.

So I started by asking her name in Ga.

As soon as I did, her mother appeared with a defensive smile, and told me that her daughter did not speak any local language.

Not long after, I heard another mother calling her son, and his name was Don Diego!

At the end of the programme, I overheard a man calling his son so they could leave, and he went: “Brutus, Brutus, it is time to go”.

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As I drove home, I was filled with laughter and awe at the same time.

Why would a Ghanaian child, born to Ghanaian parents, be called those names?

What sort of gratification do parents derive from such alien names.

As I thought of more of such names I knew like Doreen, Penticilia, Adalbretchta and many more I could not help but burst into even more laughter.

The Ghanaian is indeed a strange creation.

Always accepting anything from the West blindly and throwing his own away!

At a certain period, almost all boys were called Kelvin.

I had a hilarious experience when at a Ghanaian party in the USA, I counted nine Kelvins. When a parent called their son there was total confusion as all nine answered to the call.

Such names remind me of how my daughter names her dolls. Not much thinking goes into it, so today, she calls the doll Starfire, the next day it is shimmer and then another, it is Geeta.

I have a friend called Sydney and when I asked him why that name, he said his father told him, that he travelled with his mother to Australia, Sydney, in particular and not long after their return he was conceived and hence the name Sydney! The good news is that this friend has since expunged the name from all his records.

But as Ghanaian parents, shouldn’t a little more meaningful thinking go into how we name our children?

It is true that parents have the freedom and right to choose whichever name they wish but names are very important because they give us identity and bind us as a family.

Some names can indicate specifically where we come from, our beliefs and hopes. In the Ga culture for instance, names can sometimes show which family and town a person comes from and whether one is a first, second born and even more.

In addition to this, language is also very critical for family bonding and identification. How can we as parents allow our children to grow without speaking our mother tongues?

Why do we seem to take pride in the fact that our children have lost their identity by not speaking their mother tongue? Are parents who allow this to happen to their children being responsible?

Could this state of affairs be linked to our love for everything foreign?

It is quite intriguing to see Ghanaians right here in Ghana wearing winter jackets, leather trousers and boots in the hot sun.

We have even adopted foreign architecture to the extent that we do not use the type of windows which will allow air into our rooms but have adopted these sliding windows which block the other spaces from letting in air like people who experience winter do.

We have carried this love for foreign things onto our dining tables and have adopted fried rice and others as our meals, leaving our healthy indigenous foods, resulting in lifestyle diseases which have multiplied before our very eyes. Now we look at our traditional foods as exotic and expect people to applaud when we eat what we should be eating.

I agree that globalisation has the tendency of bringing the world together as one small village and there are cultural influences that come to play, but does that mean that now we should be fighting over who becomes more popular for singing something that we are describing as dance hall music when our songs and dances like highlife, kpanlogo, borborbor and adowa are downgraded?

When it comes to the content of televisions, our love for foreign things show again. We will not miss an episode of those foreign telenovellas which occupy our airtime.

But the reality is, no matter how we slang and try to be like others, we can never be like them.

No matter how we bleach, we can never become white.

As our elders have said, a log does not become a crocodile just because it has stayed in water for long.

Let’s start embracing our time-tested values for that is required of us as responsible parents.

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