Departmental Bulletin Paper An Account of Intercultural Contact in Nyakyusa Personal Names


39 ( 2 )  , pp.47 - 67 , 2018-06 , The Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
The impact of intercultural contact in African societies may be well articulated by examining personal names bestowed to children. The contact between different cultures yields different naming systems, apparent in the trends in personal names of children in the Nyakyusa community in Tanzania. Qualitative analysis of a sample of 220 personal names collected by the author yielded three layers: a layer of names with words and clauses with meaning in Nyakyusa language, another layer of names starting with mwa- which indicates the descent of the family, and yet another layer of nativized English, Swahili and/or Christian names. The findings were consistent with another sample of 786 names of primary school pupils in rural areas, foreign names accounted for about 60 percent of all names outnumbering, by far, the indigene names. It may follow that most parents in the Nyakyusa community opt for foreign names rather than native ones. This paper is a testimony that traditions in the Nyakyusa naming system are diminishing.

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