Here is another excerpt from our latest book, Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby
In Colonial times, as many as twenty percent of the slaves in the Carolinas bore African names, most notably day names, which relate to the day of the week on which the person was born. The West African day names, often translated to English cognates such as Judy for Juba or Joe for Cudjoe, are:
SUNDAY — QUASHEBA (female); QUASHEE (male)
MONDAY — JUBA; CUDJOE
TUESDAY –BENEBA; CUBBENAH
WEDNESDAY — CUBA; QUACO
THURSDAY — ABBA; QUAO
FRIDAY — PHEBE/PHIBBI; CUFF/CUFFEE
SATURDAY — MIMBA; QUAME/KWAME
Place names, sometimes signifying a site of importance to the slave owner, sometimes relating to one meaningful to the African-American parents, were also commonly used– as many as a quarter of male slaves received a place-name in the mid-1700s. Among those found:
Most avant-garde sounding to our modern ears are the word names used for and by African-Americans, signifying everything from the weather to virtues à la the Puritan naming traditions. Their use relates to the African belief in the power of a name to shape personality or influence fate or impart a certain quality – though many are far from uplifting. Some virtue and word names recorded among early African-Americans are:
For more on African-American naming history, see our new book Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby from which this post was adapted.
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