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Naming among Akamba families

A name is used by people to identify a specific person. According to the Kenyan Constitution 2010 bill of rights, every Kenyan child has a right to a name and nationality from birth. Though most people use the names assigned to them at birth, some people pick names as they grow up from friends, teachers, clergymen, colleagues even others go an extra mile to pick a name for themselves as they so please. 
Kambas performing a traditional dance/Wikipedia 

Akamba people are believed to have made their way into Kenya from Tanzania and settled around Mbooni before migrating to different parts which they occupy today, the land stretching from North East of Mt. Kilimanjaro and South East of Mt. Kenya.
Outside Kenya, Akamba are found in Uganda, Tanzania and Paraguay in large numbers.

Long Time Ago

 A myth has it that in the beginning, God (Ngai Mulungu, Mumbi, Mwatuangi) created a man and a woman and placed them on top of rock called Nzaui where up to date their footprints can be seen. Also, livestock footprints are visible from the said rock. He then caused heavy rains, from the anthills around a man and woman came out. It happened that the couple from Heaven had only sons while the one from the anthills produced daughters only. So whenever the sons from the heavenly couple married daughters of the soil, they paid bride price in terms of livestock.

Their cattle and prosperity grew exponentially to an extent that the families forgot to thank Mulungu. As a result, Mulungu caused a great famine making the families to scatter into different geographical locations. Some became Ameru, others became Agikuyu but some remained the original people Akamba.

Akamba Binomial Nomenclature

Due to some respect and decorum between family members, there are some people who do not address one another on first name basis. For instance, the parents of the son should not address their daughter-in-law using her first name. Whenever she joins the family, some ‘baptismal name’ is coined to be used by the in-laws and those who have the same rank in the family. This name is usually meant to be describing what the father-in-law law excelled in, career wise or maybe some hobby. For instance, Syomanzi, Nya Vundi, Ng’a Munywoki. 

The first son is to be called by the name after the prefix, meaning the daughter-in-law's first child will be her father-in-law but she should not use the father in law’s name on first name basis. 

Syomanzi implies the father-in-law is/was very hardworking, industrious in amassing wealth or gathering resources for the family. Nya Vundi, could mean the father in law was a carpenter, mason, or some mechanic.   

Ng’a Munywoki is Nya Munywoki version of Kimasaku dialect. It implies the father-in-law was/is a party animal.

During this time of intermarriages, it would be okay for Akamba in law to give their Agikuyu daughter-in-law Syomututho instead of calling her Nya’ Munywoki. This system of naming is called kũiyía. Tentatively translating to “branding with intent to honor”.

In Kikamba kya Mwingi Including Athaisu people use ava and avai, nava and nava or nava and navu as title and respective response to address someone you are not in the same league in terms of family tree hierarchy. Mostly uncles address their nephews and nieces using these titles.

Naming a Newborn 

From a married couple, the first born is named after paternal grandparent according to their sex. So in an ideal situation where parents have first four kids as two boys and two girls, they will all be named after their grandparents, with the elder brother and sister getting their paternal grandparent’s names. Any other sibling who comes after grandparents have been fully honored is given any other name maybe from the family, friend, famous public figure or even something inspirational.

From time to time, Akamba have given kids names according to circumstances they were born during. Some examples include:
Mwanzia(boy) born on way. Mbomu (boy) born during bomb blast tragedy period.
Mwanza(boy) and Wanza(girl) born outside.

Mutua, Tinda, Katua, Mutinda (boy) and Mutuo, Katindi, Mwikali (Girl) born after the parents have waited for long or the baby had a prolonged gestation period.

Mutuku, Kituku, Kivindu (boy) and Katuku(girl), Kavindu, Nduku born at night.

Musyoka (boy), Kasyuko, Musyoki, Nzioka, Nzioki (boy) and Kasyoki(girl), Kasyoka as a reincarnation of dead family member.

Wayua (girl), Kayua are for those born during famine while Mbua (boy), Wambua and Syombua, Mumbua, Kambua, Mbula (girl) Born during rainy season.

Kitoleko (boy) born during thunderstorm
Waeni, Mueni (Girl) born during time for visitors or born in a land away from home.

Parents also gave affectionate names to express a wish for their kids. They included Kyeni (guidance/bringing the light), Mutethya (helpful), Mutheu (kind-hearted) Mwiyathi (independent), Makasi/Mawia (hardworking), Musili (just, judge), Mwongeli (industrious), Ndanu (bringing joy, sweet named like Mumbe (Beautiful), Mwele (gorgeous), Mwende (beloved) and Museo (lovely).

Whenever parent lost kids at young age, they opted to name the next one they have after wild animal or something scary in order to frighten death so that it won’t be interested in their kid. Examples include Mbiti (Hyena), Munyambu(Lion), Kirungu(Porcupine), King’ei(Thief), Kamana(Useless), Nyamu (snake), Nzoka(snake), Nguli (Baboon), Ngwele/Nguũ (Hippopotamus).

Lastly, people just choose to give out weird names for no good reason. For example: Makunyũ, Makindi, Mung’eng’e, Kírunde, Iriondo, Katulanganya Mutwethoka, Nzũkũ, Kakutw’í, Suevyu, Kakonde, Kamina Ngũí etc.


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