Naming practices in contemporary Machame-Chagga culture

  • Amani Lusekelo
  • Loveluck P. Muro
Keywords: Personal-names, Cultural-change, Machame-Chagga, Onomastic-approach, Tanzania


Naming practices were cherished in African communities and personal names bestowed to children used to carry some semantic content usually determined by circumstances at birth. An examination of formal names of school children from the Machame-Chagga families exhibits an increasingly diminishing trend of naming practices. Most names of pupils are of English and/or Christian origin and just a fraction of names from a sample of 421 full names appear to be the typical Machame-Chagga names. In addition, Islamic names are numerous, which is another testimony that religion has dismantled the traditional naming system of the Machame-Chagga community. During the integration of foreign religious names, two patterns emanate. On the one hand, many Christian names are expressed in words with semantic content, e.g. Aikaeli „thank you God‟, Aminaeli „thank you God‟ and Ndumiakunde „the Lord tends to love‟. On the other hand, Islamic names in Hai District have been Swahilized, for example Azizi and Mustafa. All in all, the imposition of foreign religion in Machame-Chagga community has eroded the indigene naming system.

Keywords: Personal-names, Cultural-change, Machame-Chagga, Onomastic-approach, Tanzania


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1737-8176
print ISSN: 1737-7374