The Dogon people of West Africa believe “nommo” or self-naming is achieved through spoken word. Naming captures the soul, spirit, and life-force which calls spirit into being (Alexander-Floyd & Simien, 2006; Ntiri, 2001; Butler, 1992).  Most importantly, “the correct naming of a thing [ensures] that it comes into existence and serves as the basis for collective action and individual identity” (Alexander-Floyd & Simien, 2006, p. 70). 

 Naming is tied to cultural symbols providing cultural continuity by linking links the ancestral past to present and towards the future (Ntiri, 2001).  Self- definition, self-identity, and self-naming are essential in the African culture. The classification and social order of naming, (Ntiri, 2001) “has serious implications for the performance, expectations, and subsequent portrayal of such people.” (Ntiri, 2001, p. 165). Naming, significantly impacts how collective and individual worth, value, and power are interpreted (Butler, 1992).

Tell the story around your birth;
2) Who named you?
3) What is the meaning of your name?
4) What was happening in the world the year, month, and day you were born?
5) What is happening in popular culture, such as political events or new discoveries?
6) Who is the President? Who is the Mayor?  What are popular tv shows, movies, music?
What is your interpretation of how you “fit” into your name?