Recently my family participated in a baby naming ceremony for a Nigerian child who is a niece of my brother-in-law. In the beginning of the ceremony there is solemnity as the extended family accepts and blesses the child and then things turn festive with clapping, laughter, and food to celebrate the arrival of this new family member.
My parents arrived late due to a schedule conflict and as soon as they walked into the room the atmosphere changed. People jumped up, a videographer started filming, and a photographer started taking pictures as the new father and mother, dressed in formal Nigerian clothing, presented the baby with pomp to my mom and dad.
I do not speak Hausa and was unsure of what was going on around me and so at the first convenient break I asked my brother-in-law what was happening?
He explained that because my mom and dad were the oldest people in our family (84 and 79) that they were the most honored guests at the ceremony. He went on to say that his own mom is now the oldest member of his tribe and therefore the most revered. Daily people come to his mother’s home in Nigeria in order for her to bless them.
- There is a beauty in tying together the eldest with the youngest.
- Our spiritual family in Chicago is seeking ways to honor the elderly and to bring together the elderly with the young.
- Connecting the young with the elderly brings identity and belonging to both.