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Naming Traditions: The African American and Luo/Jopadhola Lwo Experiences

This entry discusses the influences of traditional African names on African American naming practices. Indigenous African cultures offer peoples of African descent opportunities to culturally reconnect, regardless of the geographical areas in which they live. Naming ceremonies serve vital functions in the preservation of African cultural identity. The naming systems of two closely related Nilotic ethnic groups, the Luo and the Jopadhola Lwo, are used as examples to explore this practice.

African American Rejection of “Slave Names”

Names are important. They are the means by which people identify themselves and come to be known. Some will recall Alex Haley’s televised film, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. One scene, in particular, left an indelible mark. In this scene LeVar Burton’s character, Kunta ...

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