An image of kuria warriors during one of the cultural events ceremonies.

The different ethnicity in Kenya, expose the country to variety of beauties.

The beauties come in different form of cultural practices such as male circumcision, initiations and naming of new born.

The different Ethnic groups which also encompass a range of beliefs including those adhering to Christianity, Muslim or tribal religions. 

When it comes to naming the newborns, each tribe has a way of deriving names. It is key to note some commonality among a specific tribe names. 

A key interest draws us to the Abakuria or simply the Kuria community.

The Kuria (AbaKuria, BaKuria, IgiKuria) people are an agro-pastoralists and Bantu-speaking ethnic group residing mainly in Kenya and some parts of Tanzania. 

The AbaKuria in kenya are mainly agriculturalists. 

They live specifically in the Kuria west and East of Migori County in the southwest Kenya.

Kuria people name their children according to the events that took place during the birth of the child. 

Factors such as the day of the week of the birth, the time of day (dawn, morning, dusk, afternoon, evening, night), the season of the year, the order of birth, the location a child is born plays major role in naming.

Also the specific circumstances relating to the child and to the childs family, the attitude of the parents as well as the gender of the child all play significant roles in the overall naming process and in the actual name given.

Events such as natural occurences like earthquake lightining, rains , famine, havest and floods, atrack the name

Kuria Names

Wakuria have many more names than what we always expect. It is not Chachas and Mwitas only!

For instance, Nyamburi – Goat; Nyang’ombe – Cow; Gaini – Bull and Nyangoko/Magoko –Chicken.

Firstborns (Abatangi): Firstborns are important to every family hence their names must correspond to the greetings the mother or father would be greeted. 

Once one has a child he/she will be greeted by the name of his son or daughter. Wakuria have six names for firstborns.

Chacha, Marwa and Mwita for boys and Bhoke, Robi and Gati for girls. If the first born is a boy, one of the three names Chacha, Mwita or Marwa is selected.

The father now will be greeted Isachacha, Isamwita or Isamarwa. The mother will be greeted Nyamwita or Nyachacha.

If the first born is a girl the names available are Bhoke, Robi, Gati and greetings will be prefixed Isa or Nya to the respective name. 

Ancestor names (ichidonko)

Kuria also name their children after the names of the ancestors (Abhakoro). Such naming will occur if the wish of the dead grandfather or mother requested to be named a boy or girl. 

That is why there is Mwita for both girls and boys. Some for the sake of love one would like to name the ancestors as a sign that the ancestor has been reborn.

A child can have two names one for Obhotangi and another for Endoko. 

My son is Chacha because he is a first born and he is called Monata a name after my grandfather. 

The other cause of naming ancestors will result when the child is sick or misfortunes come to a family and they seek omogabho/omoraguli to find out the problem. 

The Omoraguli will advise to name a child an ancestor whose spirits have been troubled by the family. 

When naming the child, the family will be required to sacrifice (kumwensa) a goat or a cow depending on the wish of the spirits and the magnitude of the problem. 

Similarly names like Nyamohanga, Ryoba, Magaigwa, Nsato, Sabure, Wankuru, Ng’oina, Wanchoka, Mwikwabhe are named after the spirits. 

That is why when Kurias were baptized their native names were rejected because they were assumed to be associated with the spirits.

Kuria names derived from events and various conditions: 

Kuria people also name their children according to an event which took place during the birth of a child. 

Some of the events are natural occurrences such as:
Earthquake (Kirigiti); Lightning (Nkobha); Rains (Wambura/Nyambura); Famine (Wanchara); Harvest (Magesa/Mogesi) and Floods (Nyamanche).

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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