Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132

Full Length Research Paper

Personal name and history: Change and continuity of naming practices among Maccaa Oromo

Waktole Hailu
  • Waktole Hailu
  • Department of Oromo Folklore and Literature, College of Social science and Humanity Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 29 April 2016
  •  Accepted: 08 September 2016
  •  Published: 30 April 2017


This paper addresses the change and continuity of Maccaa Oromo naming practices. Maccaa Oromo is one of Oromo moiety inhabits in western part of Oromia. Mainly data was collected from elder through interview and group discussion. In addition to primary data, various historical books which are related to the topic are surveyed. Thus, in this investigation, both primary and secondary sources were used. The analyzed data shows that personal name is highly linked with socio-cultural life. The ways of naming and type name community selected to a baby is related with political ideology, religious and educational status of the community. And it is like document which shows historical facts when it is selected.

 Key words: Maccaa Oromo, personal name, naming practices, change and continuity.


According to Nonsense theorists (Searle, 1967), unlike common names, a personal name has no meaning (Mill, 1961); it is merely a tag, a pointer-outer which in itself has next to no meaning (Adamic 1942). Markey (1982, cited in Sylvester, 2011) also states that “while names have references, they lack sense.” In that perspective, personal names are just references nothing more. According to this theory, personal names, therefore, are just arbitrary words, more the same as words such as “drive”, “home”, and “tree”, respectively. These assumptions reflect Westerners’ world view and do not apply to all cultures (Sylvester, 2011). To the contrary to the above assumption, in Africa, names’ are beyond a ‘word’ or words by which a person, animal, place or thing is known, and does not fundamentally connote designa-tion,   reputation,    or   identification,   separation   of  one individual from the other person (Guma, 2001;1965). They are also a socio-cultural interpretation of historical events and they embody individual life experiences, social norms and values, status roles and authority, as well as personality and individual attributes. Similarly (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 1983) stated that names primarily indicate designation, status, or the identification, separation of one individual from the other person. In this regard, De Klerk (1999) also stated that naming is concerned with the culture of people and it is intimately linked with hopes, fears, values and events in people’s lives. Chauke (1992) mentions that names play a significant role in reminding the next generation that once upon a time there lived a certain group of people in a particular place. The writer also argues that names serve as symbols which will remain with people throughout theirlives. Similarly Kofi (2006) discuss naming as an important aspect of the society. He argues that name is not being arbitrary labels but sociocultural tags that have sociocultural functions and meanings.  In addition, the writer states names give insight into culture, environment, religion, culture and refer to a different element of human experience.
Similarly, Rachel (2001) stated that personal names are a potential source of information about social relationships, identity, history, and linguistic processes. According to Sylvester, (2011) a name is like a document where one can read the history of the individual or the family in time and space. In other words, names reflect values, traditions, and events in people’s lives. Names are therefore meaningful words containing historical context. The aforementioned facts hold true for Ethiopian people in general and Oromo ethnic group in particular. On this topic, many scholars like (Baye 1988, 2006; Zelalem, 2003; Dafa, 1983 and Tesfaye, 2012, 2015; Dejene, 2000 and Elias 2004) have conducted research. Dejene (2000) focuses on thematic Comparison of Proper Names in Oromo, Amhara and Walaita Linguistic Groups. Whereas, Zelalem (2003) studied Amharic personal nomenclature particularly Grammar and Socio-linguistic insight of proper name. Elias (2004) Amharic and Ethiopic Onomastic: A classic Ethiopian legacy concept and ingenuity. On the other hand, the works of Tesfaye, (2015) and Baye (1988) directly related to Oromo naming practices.  Baye (2006) stated that Personal names are important pointers of individuals in society and linked with the identity the child as he/she grows. According to Tesfaye, (2015) Oromo people follow different traditions in bestowing personal names to their babies.
According to the author among other, birth day fate, birth season, birth days of a week, haammachiisa and also the background of the family are all considered in naming a baby. Similarly, Dafa (1983) stated that Oromo consider calendar in giving name. He states that the Oromo people offer names to their new children on the basis of observation of stars during the night. On the other hand, Baye (1988) claims the heavenly power is considered in choosing a name for a baby. He stated that the Oromo particularly Borena Oromo people give a name to a child in ritual ceremony which is used to incorporates a child into the world of human existence. Many of the above mentioned works are more general and did not provide detail explanation on name and naming practices of Oromo society. Some of them are mainly focuses on name ritual which involves spiritual aspects and typology of Oromo name, name meaning and naming practices among the Oromo. Little attention given on name as indicator of socio-cultural fact the community, an archive of important events is society. On the other hand, most previous scholars viewed Oromo name from linguistics perspective. To the knowledge of the searcher  the topic is not studied from historical and folklore Point of view. Moreover, the change and continuity of Oromo naming practice which is the major focus of the present study is overlooked by previous scholars. Therefore, the present study attempted to fill the mentioned knowledge gap/s by focusing on Maccaa Oromo.


Concept of personal name
Naming is a universal cultural practice. In every society in the world, people are given names. But how the names are bestowed, the practices and rituals involved and interpretations attached to the names vary from society to society and from one culture to another (Mutunda, 2006). Names have a specific meaning to every nation since names convey the history and culture of that particular nation while also evoking memories of love or bitterness within members of that nation. Names reflect the way in which people think and see the world around them (Meiring, 1994). Naming plays an important role in any human society. According to Mathamangwane and Gardner, (1998) names are not mere arbitrary and meaningless labels but rather have indexical relationship to socio-cultural meanings and functions, places, time, people and events. It portrays the cultural values and traditions of a particular society. Similarly, Williams (2004) mentions that personal naming of children is a fascinating subject that varies so much around the world and communicates much about a country or society. The different ways people are named have different implications for their social construction as persons.
Name selection
Names are a part of every culture and that they are of enormous importance both to the people who receive names and to the societies that give them. Despite their universality, there is a great deal of difference from one culture to another in how names are given (Edward, 1996). This indicates that naming is highly related with culture and each society has its own way of giving names. In this regard Mphela (2001) states that people from different cultures use different patterns or approaches in naming their children. According to Edward (1996), preliterate people, names are determined according to very definite and specific rules. In some cultures, children get their names from the family trees of their parents. In other cultures, names are taken from events which happen during the pregnancy of the mother or shortly after the birth of the child. Similarly, Mbiti (1990) discussed that names are divine through magic and incantation. According to the author, in such culture the names are  given  at  birth.  When  this  happens,  the new names are given either to mark important milestones in life or to ward off evil spirits by tricking them into thinking that the person with the old name has disappeared. According to Dakubu (2000) personal names and naming practices of the people are based on their traditional or historical distinctions. The naming of a child shortly after birth is regarded as a public announcement of the child's birthright as a member of a recognized group which is most of the time regarded as the primary name. In many societies naming of children is an important time that is frequently marked by ceremonies (Mbiti 1990 cited in Mphela 2010). During the ceremonies, names are given at birth or under culturally specified circumstances.
On the other hand, names are given based on 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 person is born, the specific circumstances relating to the child and to the child’s 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. If one's parents suffer or suffered from child mortality, one is likely to have a funny, survival or death prevention name believed to be capable of preventing and eliminating totally such deaths since it has the power of preventing parents in the underworld from causing the death of such children (Obeng 2001; Dakubu 2000; Tesfaye 2015). Similarly, Garwood (1976) further stated that a name acquired on the basis of extraordinary birth circumstances including unusual place of birth, weather or other conditions prevailing at the time of birth. Likewise, Mohome (1972) has noted that, names are not often chosen at random and usually recall a grandfather or other important relation. Sometimes they commemorate an important or unusual event or somebody. Kofi (2006) indicates various contexts in which names are given for children. Among other, day names, family, circumstantial, manner of birth, theophorous, weird names, insinuating and proverbial names, gang and nicknames, status, occupational, professional, religious, matrimonial, and western names are the major. Thus, the names given to individuals refer to historical events, experiences, emotions, status relations, clan and kinship relations, as well as authority.
Significance of Personal Names
Naming processes carry with them implications con-cerning what a person is and how he or she is placed in the world (Cabral, 2008). The different ways people are named have different implications for their social, cultural, political, historical and religious activity of name of bearer. In this regard Mazrui, (1986) stated that personal names are inseparable from the issue of identity in human  affairs.  Through   identity,  personal  names  also become enmeshed in matters such as ideology, ethnicity, religion, sexual differences and social mythology. In addition, the author explains that personal names may actually be of historical value. Similarly, Garwood (1976) discussed a name given to a child reflects a particular event or unusual moment. Thus, a particular name given to a child will keep on reminding family members or members of the community about such unusual moment. Likewise, Obeng (2001) reveals that names in African cultures are pointers to their users‟ hopes, dreams and aspirations; they may reflect their users‟ geographical environments, their fears, their religious beliefs, and their philosophy of life and death. Children's names may even provide insights into important cultural or socio-political events at the time of their birth. Personal names are not only used socio cultural indicators but also names are a reflection of an ideological struggle in the naming of places in the administered territories (Cohen and Kliot, 1992). Rachel (2001) points out that personal name convey information about social relationships, identity, history, and linguistic processes.
Everywhere names mean something; it tells us so much about history, geography, tradition and culture. Chauke (1992) mentions that names play a significant role in reminding the next generation that once upon a time there lived a certain group of people in a particular place. Names serve as symbols which will remain with people throughout their lives. Even, it is capable of preserving culture to the next generation. This implies that names enable people to know the world and its inhabitants. In other words, people must be familiar with names as valued memories or wealth, which will stay on as historical evidence of man’s existence on earth. The individual’s name is of concern to the society as a whole, for the individual performs and participates in the society. In line with this Kofi (2006) discloses personal names show group identification and reveal some aspects of the cultural patterns and behavior of the culture concerned. Similarly, Chauke (1992) confirms that personal name system and practice is a marker of the people’s belief, ideology, religion, culture, philosophy and thought. The names are best understood and analyzed when one has insight into the ethno-pragmatics, socio-cultural norms and the language and culture of bearer.
Oromo naming practices
Oromo personal names are linked with social, cultural, economic, religious and psychological aspects. Names are of great significance in that they can express joyful sentiments and a sense of personal aspiration for oneself or others. In this regard, Tesfaye (2015) stated names are not arbitrary labels but sociocultural, religious and ideological tags that have sociocultural functions and meanings. Among the Gabra Oromo naming new born child is marked  by  ritual  ceremony  known  as moggaati (Paulo, 1999). On this ceremony the coffee ritual is performed, the coffee being dipped from broad wooden bowl with wooden ladle and poured in to wooden chalices. Each participant receives the chalices in turn and drink, in atmosphere of joy and god will. Similarly, Ayalew (2000) point out Oromo name adopted son is named by moggaasa ceremony. The reason was that the adoptive father already had angafaa son from the principal wife and gubbisaa was conducted. Since gubbisaa cannot be conducted twice in a family, the adopted son was given name by moggaasa ceremony and he can inherit the property of his adoptive mother alone. These ritual items symbolize that she is the mother of a son. Among Boranaa and Gabraa Oromo, purpose of naming ritual is not only giving name for new born child, but also it involves spiritual activity (Baye 1988; Paulo, 1994). The authors argue that naming ritual incorporate praying and begging Waaqaa (God) for the future of the child. Accordingly, Gabraa Oromo praying is conducted by eight men, lead the usual litany, praying for peace, rain, life, to this prayer; however they add good wishes for the child, peace and prosperity.
On the other hand, Oromo give name for new born child based on concept of ayyaanaa of the date on which birth occurs. Dafaa (1973), states that the Oromo people give names to their new babies on the basis of observation of stars during the night. As Oromo belief that ayyaanaa of the day on which birth occurred has something relation with future fate of the baby. The reason for these preferences is the belief that each day has its own ayyaanaa that is its own spiritual quality, which passes to the child born on that day. In addition to this, the Oromo people give a name to a baby via hammachisaa which means ‘making a baby to be embraced by a Qaalluu (Tesfaye, 2015; Baye, 1988). Accordingly, hammachiisa is making a baby to be embraced and blessed by Oromo religious leader (Qaalluu) and abbaa Bokkuu. The Qaalluu embraces, blesses and gives a name to a baby. Likewise, Paulo (1999) stated that Gabraa Oromo choose the name for their baby based on particular day of the week, time of the day or event relevant to the time when the child was born. Furthermore, Tesfaye (2015) stated  that Oromo give name based on physical appearance and Behavioral features at birth, agricultural work product and cattle amount, days of a month,  seasons, birthday names, days of a week, birth order, birth places, twin names, names associated with trees, political related names. In general, the aforementioned literatures show that names represent the socio-cultural, lived-in experience of the society.  In addition, the previous works indicate that names are cultural context and reveals culture, economic, religious, psychological aspects of society when name selected. Society is never a static whole, changes come from both inside and outside and when combined give rise to a new synthesis which is invariably reflected in the daily lives of human beings. This socio-cultural change,  also  changes  naming practices of the society. Despite this fact historical context within which the naming process in Oromo embedded is over looked. In addition change and continuity of Oromo naming practices is the concern of this paper.


The study adopts the descriptive research design. The data in this study were qualitative including primary and secondary sources. Thus, primary qualitative data were obtained from key informants identified through purposive sampling technique (both men and women) through an interview and a Focus Group Discussion (FGD). Through an interview, the researcher gathered information from local elders and knowledgeable peoples about naming and its implications. In Focus group Discussion (FGD), the researcher formed a group which contains seven individuals who have experience concerning the topic under investigation. During the course of the focus group discussion, the researcher facilitated the discussion and took notes, recorded the discussion session and related activities with a research guide. Besides, first-hand information collected from key informants on Oromo naming practices are reviewed to support primary data obtained from field work.


Naming a new born child is a normal and universal phenomenon across all societies. But the manner of picking a name for a new child varies across a society due to cultural dissimilarity. Not only in society of a different culture, but also the variation exists within the society of same culture and language.  This reveals that the ways and types of name families choose are highly affected by social, culture and politics determents of society. Thus, name shows historical fact and internal feelings of the society. Generally, it demonstrates social, political and cultural situation of one society. 
Oromo naming system before colonization
In Oromo societies, the birth of a child is an event of great magnitude. Great significance is, therefore, attached to the naming of a child.  Naming is considered to be of profound significance in that the name-giver chooses a name that truly identifies the child as a person. This highly linked with Gadaa: socio-economic, political and religious lives of the Oromo. Though the term Gadaa has different contextual meanings, as a system it is an organization, which directs every aspect of the Oromo life: politics, economics, social, religious and cultural activities (Asmarom 1973, 2006). This system has guided the religious, social, political and economic life of the Oromo for many years. Furthermore, it shaped their philosophy, art, history and method of time keeping (Asmarom, 1973). During this era, Oromo naming system was highly  based  on  birth  situation, birth date, ayyaana and hammachisaa. In the Oromo culture a person has more than two names; a name picked by the family or father and hammachisaa a name (given by Qaalluuu). In Oromo culture birth situation, ayyaanaa, activity performing when birth occurred, time, moral and physical quality of the child, wealthy status are the major criteria for choosing a name for a child (Tesfaye 2015). Birth is one of the rites of passage through which everybody passes through. It marks the addition of a new person to a society and clan. This is marked by different social events. Among these events, name ritual is one.  According to the Oromo culture, ayyaana has a great role in picking names for children. Oromo believe that the fate of the child is decided by the ayyaana of the day on which he/she was born (Dafa 1983).  As a result, Oromo choose the name for his child by considering the day and the ayyaana of the day. On the other hand, Oromo has been naming a child based on a particular situation of birth occurrence without considering the ayyaana of the day on which the child was born. For example, birth situation can be a reason for giving a name to an infant. It includes being the first or not, wish of health, having unexpected sex, having the child after a long wish Twin and Time of the day on which the birth occurred.
A name like Inikka, Biqilaa, Saaqattaa, Duree, Dursee, Jalqabaa etc. are given for a first born child. These names indicate that somebody called by these names are born first. On the other hand, names like Fayyisaa, Fayyisee, Dhinsaa and Fayyeeraa elucidate healthy and wealthy wish and internal feelings of a parent towards the child. In addition, such names show optimism that parents have toward their children and the support they deserve from them. On the other hand, the name that a family chooses for their child also indicates the unexpected sex or sex preferences. The name like Yaadashee, Hundattuu, Haatatuu, Garuuta’ee, etc, confirms this idea. Traditionally Oromo prefers a son than a girl since the boy makes continuity of generation and inherits the wealth of his father including the land and house. He supports his family during old age, but the girl gets married to another clan and viewed as the clan’s property to which she is married. Due to this fact, the family of the child selects such name for the unexpected sex. Contrary to the aforementioned ideas, getting a kid subsequent to long aspiration can also be grounds for selecting a name for that infant. Dheebuu, Yaadanii, Siccaalee, Hawwanii, Hundarraa, etc., are names given for children born after a long desire on the part of parents, and also when they get the expected sex. These names by themselves show the internal feelings of the parent of the children. In Oromo culture the name of twins of children is also known. As they are genetically similar both in physical and behavioral aspects; their names are also similar.  Twins can be boy + boy, boy + female and female + female. For similar sex twin, the parent gives the name like Jiraa fi Jireenyaa, Caalaa, fi Caalchisaa, etc.  Likewise,   the   twin  can  be  of  opposite  sex  (boy +female) and named by such name Margaa fi Magartuu, Caalaa fi Caaltuu. On the other hand, Margituu fi Magarsee, Kumee fi Kumashii, etc., are name given for female+ female twin. Whether it is similar or opposite sex, Oromo chooses similar names for twin children. The similarity of the name implies the genetical similarity in behavioral and physical characteristics. On the other hand, time of the day on which birth occurs is another factor for naming a child among Oromo. Night (halkan), dawn, morning, day, evening, etc., when birth occurs is also another factor for choosing names. For a child born at night, the parents select the name like Halkoo, Halkano, Halkane, Waaritee, and Waariyyoo. Similarly, names like Bari’oo, Bariitee, Booruu, Barraaqoo, Barii, Ganamee, etc., are names given for children born at dawn. Whereas, names like Guyyoo, Guyyee, Guyyaasaa, etc, are names selected for children born at day time. Galgaloo, Galgalee, Galgal, etc., are name given for children born in evening time. These show that birth circumstances can determine choosing names.
Beside birth circumstances, social activities performed while the child is born are also factors to select names for kids among Oromo. Oromo select names for children emanate from social activity performed while the children are born. Example, Godaanaa: name given for a child born while people shift from one place to another. Obaa- is a name given for a child born while animals were being taken to the water. Duulaa– is a name given for a child born during a fight. Similarly, Public event (social, cultural or political event) society carryout during a child’s birth can be a criterion for naming a child. For instance, Jiloo - a name given to a child had born during Jilaa ceremony, Gadaa- a name given to a child barn during Gadaa ceremony. In addition to the aforementioned factors, weather conditions when birth occurred, physical or psychological or moral quality of the person can be a factor for naming a child in the Oromo cultureOromo name child based on the season in which a birth takes place. For example, Bokaayoo: name for a child born during a rainy season, Bonayaa (male) Bonee (female) name given for a child born during the dry season. Based on the color of the skin of the child, name like Ifaa, Gurree, Booraa, etc., are selected.  Ifaa – name for a child with red skin color, Gurree - is a name for child with black skin color. The physical character of child is also another factor for choosing a name in the Oromo culture. For example, Bokkuu or Bokkicha- short and strong likes Bokkuu, Dabbassaa, and Dabbassoo-person with long hair. Gindoo-short, Qacoo-thin. Oromo also chooses a name for child based on mental aspect or behavior that the child reflects in daily life. E.g., Bambana- name for a child who always moves and is active, Caraanaa- name for a child frequently crying, Golaasaa name for a child who has the habit of breaking materials. On the other hand, Oromo has been naming a child by the name of water, mountain, boundary, and tree found in the surrounding environment. This is due to different reasons. According to the Oromo belief, a mountain is respected, ritual place and sacred, because of this, they named their children by this name. The same is true for the name of water, for Oromo, water is a source of life and symbol of fertility which indicates their wish to be a great person. Besides this, these names are also used to confirm legacy and ownership property on land and natural resources.
Likewise, Oromo give names based on his superior being or God. Names picked in this manner indicate Oromo’s attitude toward Waaqa. Eg, Waaqkennee, Waaqjiraa, Waaqtolaa Fedhasaa, kennasaa etc are names related to intelligence of creator. These names indicate supremacy and intelligence of Oromo Waaqaa and Oromo religion. Another way of naming in the Oromo culture is hammachiisaa. Hammachiisaa is naming ritual performed at Qaalluuu hall. At this ritual, the Oromo religious leader names and blesses the child. The Qaalluuu bless the child for future life, peace and property. Because Oromo believed that the child blessed by a priest is believed to become rich and develop. This is mainly applied in the past when Oromo was ruled by Gadaa systems (Bartles, 1983). Hammachiisaa has been performed at the place where a great social event and worship is celebrated. Six months after the birth of a child, the father and mother of a new born child took the kid to Qaalluu hall. The Qaalluu took the child from the family/mother and bless him/her by caring the child and naming it. On this naming ritual ceremony, the family of the child prepares cultural food and beverage. After throwing a piece of food here and there in the hall, the Qaalluuu picked the name for the child based on the birth situation first, second, child.  Then Qaalluuu tied metal nickels on the neck of the child. This symbolizes the wish to be strong as metal and long life for child. In addition to this, having circular form indicates protecting the child from evil spirits (Dafa, 1973).
Oromo naming practices after the incorporation Oromo land to the Ethiopian empire
In the nineteenth century, the Oromo land was forcefully annexed into Ethiopia by the Amhara emperor, Menelik II. The two interrelated Oromo traditional institutions, the Gadaa system and the Oromo indigenous religion leader were weakened to resist the introduction and expansion of Orthodox Christianity religion. On the other hand, the Qaalluu institution could not be able to adequately control the people to form the basis for common resistance to Christianity (Benti, 1999). This vigorous incorporation eradicated the Gadaa Oromo political system in particular and the Oromo culture in general. The Oromo were also severely repressed by the Abyssinian conquerors: the majority reduced to tenancy, paying heavy tributes for the use of land; large numbers were sold into slavery and thousands killed. Written Oromo texts were destroyed, the education of Oromo’s was continued in  Amharic  and any social advance was only possible by way of assimilation into the dominant culture. The Oromo culture and religion were denigrated and viewed as inferior or “savage”, and the Oromo cultural and religious shrines and places of worship were replaced by those of the Amhara ruling class. The place of worship of Qaalluuu ritual house is like Galma which is located on hill top, hill side, or in a groove of large trees is taken by Ethiopian Orthodox Church. As a result, Oromo lost his indigenous religion and the former places of worship and took the new forcefully (Mohammad, 1994).
These brought change on Maccaa Oromo culture in general and the naming practices in particular. Formerly, Oromo named his child based on the time day of the weak, time of the day, ceremony taking place, when birth occurred, weather, birth circumstance, and ayyaanaa which indicates the Oromo identity. But after amalgamation, the former way of choosing name was changed. As a result Oromo took Amharic name like Gezachew, Alebachew, Fiqiresillaasee, Waldamaariyaam, Mekonnen, Dergu, Abiyot and other. These names indicate the ideology of Abyssinian conquerors. On the other hand, the consecutive Ethiopian empire drafted one language, one religion and one culture policy to dominate other ethnic groups. Only the Amharic language is the literary, official and the educational language.  Amharic speaking group was considered as higher and for the elite class. In addition to these, for employment opportunity, knowing Amharic language was primary important. Because of these and other factors, Oromo himself started naming his child by the Amharic language. Let alone naming a new born child, the adult changed their name to Amharic language at school and other work places.
Naming practices after the introduction of foreign religion
Introduction and expansion foreign religion like Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, Islam and Protestantism to Oromo land weaken Oromo traditional religion. Politically, they were subjugated to an empire they had never known before. It was an exploitative hierarchical system and quite opposite to the political experiences of the society Negaso and Crummey (1972). This brought a new way of naming the child among Oromo, especially in western Oromia. Even though the role of father and family remains influential in naming the child like in formerly one, the criteria of naming system is changed. Formerly, because of Amhara domination Oromo forced to name his child by Amharic which does not show the Oromo identity. Now Oromo started naming the child according to Christian and Muslim religious doctrine and well known religious men. As a result of the incorporation of the Oromo land to the Ethiopian empire, hamachisaa replaced by the baptism system and the roles of Qaalluuu is taken  over  by  the priest (orthodox religious leader). In  the past, Oromo took new born child to Qaalluuu (newly imported religious leader) with beverage and cultural food and the Qaalluuu picked name based on the ayyaana of the day on which birth occurred. But after the Oromo took foreign religion, the family took the new born child to the church and the priest baptizes and picked a new name for the child.
There is ritual ceremony; food and beverage preparation at church and the priest prays to God for the future life of the child. The most important of this activity is proclaiming the new child born to the members. Oromo Christian followers name their child according to the bible and accepted Israel name like Abrham, Elias, Zakaryas, Yonas, Amanuel, and Daniel etc which shows nothing about Oromo distinctiveness. Naming ceremony for child eradicated; instead of hamichisaa, baptizing at church is come in to being. Family took the child to church and the priest baptizes the child and pray God for his/her future life like Qaalluuu did previously. But the priest does not pick a name for new born child but beg God prosperity, peace and well-being for future life of child. Just it is means of announcing the new child to that religious institution and makes new child member of the group. The same is true for Muslim followers of Oromo, they picked name for the child based on their religious doctrine and Quran. They tend to accept Arabic name and the name of well-known religious men like Prophet Mohammed.
After the expansion of modern education
Current Ethiopian policy allows every nationality and peoples of Ethiopia to promote his culture and language. As a result, Oromo got opportunity to learn and work with mother tongue language. This brought alteration in naming practices of Oromo in general and Maccaa Oromo in particular. This policy gives chance to Oromo revitalized his culture. Oromo started to name their baby by Afan Oromo. Present day Oromo society got relatively modern education and understood their identity. As a result some of Oromo Maccaa Oromo accepted nationalistic name. Extension of modern education altered and brought nationalistic name like Moyeraa, Nimoonaa, Iftiyoom, Mo’iibul, Sabboonaa, etc. Contemporary time the so called educated Oromo  group started to pick names like, Firaaol, Hundaaol, Kookeet, Siifan, Keebeek, Koonaaf, Fenaan, Feenet, Kanariyyaan, Naa’ol, Naatolii, etc. to kids. These names indicate social transformations. They are more nationalistic names and indicator of transformation Oromo life from communal life to individualism.


According  to  one  widely  held  view,  that  of  Nonsense theorists (Searle, 1967), unlike common names, a personal name has no meaning (Mill, 1961); it is merely a tag, a pointer-outer which in itself has next to no meaning (Adamic,1942). Markey (1982, cited in Sylvester, 2011) also states that “while names have references, they lack sense.” In that perspective, personal names are just references nothing more. According to this theory, personal names, therefore, are just arbitrary words and has nothing relation with socio-culture life of the society. To the contrary this assumption the present finding argues that personal names are beyond the word and reveals socio- cultural activity of the community. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (1983) stated that names primarily indicate designation, status, or the identification, separation of one individual from the other person. But in Oromo culture in general and Maccaa Oromo in particular names are beyond that and do not essentially indicate designation, status, or the identification, separation of one individual from the other person. In Oromo culture names are indicator of socio-cultural facts, world view of the society, internal feeling of name giver as well as political ideology. This finding confirms the works of (Guma, 2001; Tesfaye, 2015). According to Edward (1996) parent selects name for children from the family trees of their parentages. This Implies that naming new born child is more  constant and identified before birth. Contrary to this idea, in Oromo culture names given for new born child is situational and decided after birth. Similarly, it is highly interconnected with social, cultural, economic, religious, political, and educational status of the community. This implies that religious, economic, political and socio-cultural transformation changes types of name and ways of naming in Oromo society. This finding confirms the work of Kofi (2006) which identifies innovations in the Akan name system as a result of westernization, education and foreign religion. 


In the Maccaa Oromo culture, personal name has pro-found social, cultural, economic, political and emotional meaning. Among the personal name ravels existing real or facts occasion and history when it named. It is highly connected to socio-cultural life of the societies. Ways of naming and types of name the parents select for their children changed with social change. In the past the Oromo infant name was based on his surrounding and birth situation, time of birth, ayyaana of the day, place, etc. Names based on these and other factors reflected Oromo philosophy and world view, religion, like ayyaana, safuu, politics livelihood and identity. But this system altered through time because of socio-cultural transformation of Maccaa Oromo. In the nineteenth century Oromo lost his indigenous administration system declined and replaced by Amhara ruling class. This forceful subjugation  affects  the  whole culture of Oromo. These system changes naming system among Oromo, Oromo adopted Amhara name which indicate nothing about the Oromo culture and identity. After the downfall of Dreg, Ethiopian Revolutionary Democratic Front takes power has given right for subjugated ethnic group like Oromo. As a result, every ethnic group including Oromo had the right to follow whatever religion they like. This brought expansion of foreign religions among the Oromo society. The introduction and expansion of foreign religions brought naming new children from bible (Israel name) and Quran (Arabic name) which do not have any link become known. On the other hand, current Ethiopian policy on culture and equality of Ethiopia nation, nationality and peoples and expansion of modern education transformed naming and its system. As the result of the expansion of education and technology, fake names were introduced. 


The author has not declared any conflict of interest.


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