We love this series by Rewa where she celebrates the naming rites and traditions of the Igbo tribe of Nigeria. This is a good example of how art can be used to educate as well as celebrate at the same time. Rena sheds light on the Igbo tradition, showing that a name is more than just a name; it is an epiphany, a prayer, a wish for history to come back to life.
Rewa explains the Igbo naming process in good detail on her website. See an extract of it below:
“The Igbos are one of the three major tribes of Nigeria and comprise the largest group of people living in southern region of the country.
Igbo culture is a magical amalgamation of steadfast customs, ancient practices, Nka (artistry), religious beliefs, birth, marriage and death rituals, language, music and dance forms, as well attire and cuisine. The culture of the Igbos modifies our thoughts, speech, actions and artefacts to the extent that we are easily distinguished from other ethnic groups.
In Igbo traditional society, a naming ceremony, Igu Afa, occurs on the 8th day after a child’s birth. Paternal grandparents officiate the ceremony and it begins with ancestral recognition and divination, followed by the name giving. Wine libations are then poured in deference to our ancestors and also to notify them of the child’s name. This is followed by the breaking of kola nuts and prayers and the ceremony, which traditionally lasts an entire day, ends with a family procession.
In Igbo land, there is great significance in a name – a name is more than just an appellation or a stamp of identity. Our names bear a message, a meaning, a story, an observation, a history, a life experience or a prayer. They embody a collective of my people’s rich heritage and provide a window into our value systems and life philosophies. We believe that God, man and destiny are intertwined. Chi is our personal God who resides within the individual and presides over our destiny, Eke is the principle of creation and destiny apportionment and Uwa is the world as we know it. This sacred trinity is woven into our names and moulds us into who we are.
Onicha Ado N’idu offers a viewing facet into our culture, our naming rites and how these appellations shape who we are. How a culture survives depends on its people’s capacity to learn and transmit it to succeeding generations. Through Nka, I hope to provide viewers with an understanding of who we are as a people and seek to learn more about my tribe and my country as a whole.”
Rewa expresses this with a series of female portraits who have been given Igbo names.