Parliament summons Local Government minister over blacklisting indigenous name

BY: Getrude Ankah Nyavi
Hajia Alima Mahama
Hajia Alima Mahama

The Local Government Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama has been summoned by Parliament over the decision by the Births and Deaths Registry to blacklist the registration of some local names.

Registrars of the Birth and Death Registry have refused to register the births of children whose names include “Maame,” “Pappa,” “Nana,” “Naa,” “Junior,” “Nene,” “Nii” and “Ohemaa” because they are only titles. The Registry is also determining the order in which names must be written, giving prominence to foreign names over indigenous Ghanaian names.

The decision has attracted the fury and scorn of a section of the public and some pressure groups in the country.

The latest to express displeasure over the new directive are Members of Parliament (MPs).

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu raising the issue on the floor of the house on Friday questioned the source of the power of the Births and Deaths registry to issue and apply such a directive.

“I am raising this so that this house will assemble the Minister for Local Government and the management of the Births and Deaths Registry to explain to this house where the source of their power is. That they can see our President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, that is the name, and Mr Speaker, in this house there are a number of Nanas and the Niis , I see Nana Akua Afriyie…………..Mr Speaker, it means when I give birth someone somewhere wants to determine to me what name I should give to my son or daughter”.

Condemning the directive, he said Nii and Nana are part of the Ghanaian culture.

He added that the new policy was illegal since the registry does not have the legal backing to implement it, “So Mr. Speaker I am using this to invite the majority leader who is leader of government business, that the Minister for Local Government and the management of the Births and Deaths Registry should give us cause why they should not stop this legality.“

For his part, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Osei Owusu said “Mr. Speaker I call my son ‘Paapa’, so if I name my son after my father, I can’t call him by his raw name, it is a reverence to my father. You can’t decide that you have refused to recognise the name I have given him.

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“It is time public and civil servants understood that the powers given to them are all written in codes and they are not entitled to exercise any powers that parliament has not given to them. They are not given any discretion in this matter, if they think that there is the need to amend the law, the appropriate thing is to go through the respective instrument and raise the bill before the house for the appropriate thing to be done…. they are generating needless tension in the country,” he stated.