web analytics

Mother’s Day Naming

An old man, OleKoitaat tells me that there is a feast among the Maasai called the “Ox of the Infant.” When a child is born and it is time to give it a name, an unblemished black ox without any blemish or white or brown spot is slaughtered. The men are given a share and then the women cook the meat. When the meat is ready, a woman calls out, “The honey is ready.” Then the mother of the child is given milk and the women eat the meat together. After they have eaten, the women go home to their own villages.

In the evening, the mother carries her child to the cattle enclosure and milks her cows with the child on her back. When she finished, three old men and the child’s father join her and the child is named. There is plenty of honey beer to help the group decide on a good name. Names are usually chosen among those of relatives or friends that have been successful pastoralists.

The “Ox of the Infant” is slaughtered at the door of the mother’s house and the skull, instead of being thrown away, is placed by the door. The tail is not separated from the hide as is usually the case. It is left on until the hide is worn out. This explanation is a combination of what an old man told me together with what I’ve gleaned from my reading, especially Hollis.

2 Responses to “Mother’s Day Naming”

  1. Very interesting Ned.  Just curious, what is honey beer?

  2. Ned Marchessault on 16/05/2012 #

    Steve,
    Honey beer is the traditional home made wine of the Maasai. It is fermented honey and sugar using a kind of “yeast” from a tree. Honey beer is used especially in blessings. Honey is harvested in the forest.

Add your Comment