Sustaining the Ga Tradition with the unique naming pattern  

A GNA feature by Laudia Sawer  

Tema, July 2, GNA – The Ga People of the Greater Accra Region, the region that hosts Ghana’s capital, believe that children are strangers from their ancestors. 

They, therefore, are accepted as members of the family who have come to stay after surviving the first eight days on earth, and therefore, given a name to welcome them to the family to enjoy a unique identity.  

The importance of names cannot be downplayed as God, the Creator, recognised this and, therefore, brought the animals he created to Adam to name them. 

 “He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name,” (Genesis 2:20). 

Just like other tribes in the world and in Ghana to be specific, the natives of Greater Accra name their children on the traditional eight days after birth. 

Even though the Gas believe they are all royals as most bear the revered title Nii (king) and Naa (queen) just as their chiefs and queens; they have unique names for each clan, which makes it easy for identification and tracing of ancestry. 

Ga Naming  

In the past, the language and tribal mark on one’s body could give a clue of where the person hails from, but with modernity, intermarriages, and multilingualism, it is difficult to solely depend on those. 

Therefore, the name is one of the most important identifiers of a person. 

The renowned writer, A.A. Amartey, said the Ga people believe in reincarnation as the spirit of the dead (ancestors) come back to the world as newborns, hence the revered names Nii and Naa, indicating they are reincarnated. 

The Gas are named after their paternal grandfathers, considering the clan they hail from and their birth position. 

Uniquely, most Ga names also come with appellations (sabla gbei), which scholars in Ga traditions have indicated is a word or statement used to represent a name, (if one does not want to mention the name plainly but glorify it through appellation). 

It is believed that in the olden days because of wars and killings, the Ga people invented the appellations so that their enemies would not be able to identify and kill them. 

Name Groups  

Names in the Ga Traditional Area can be grouped into six categories: position of birth, family, twins, day of birth, orphans, and reincarnated names.  

Aside from these, some may also choose names based on circumstances surrounding the birth of the child, while others may also name children after prominent members of society who may be alive or had passed on as a way to remember them. 

Birth Position  

Most firstborn boys will generally take the name Tettey with the appellation (Saashi), while the second and third take respectively Tetteh (Mpata), and Kwei /Mensa (Afadi-nsro /Osa). The names can continue to the 10th male boy, who is called Badu, with a sabla of Asuasa. 

According to resource materials, including A.A. Amartey’s popular book Omanye Aba, the females will also generally be given the position names and appellations, Dede (Tuma), Korkor (Ofamota), and Kai /Mansa (Adonkropa / Brakatubrafo) for first, second and third girls. 

 The females that come after them will continue with the names Tsotsoo (Aflaso-manso), Fofo (Oye), Ashami (Okuga), and Botswe (Ashiedua) for the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh positions of birth. 

Family/Clan Names  

Every Ga family has peculiar names, which make it possible for the child to trace their origin, as it shows the clan, the quarter, and the family the child was born into, even though there can be some names running across more than one clan.   

Some names that come from Ga Mashi (Central Ga), may include Abe, Adukwei, Dakua, Deidei, Lamile, Otobia, Okaija, Taki, Yaole, Kpakpo, and Jagbele, among others. 

The people of Osu have names such as Adumua, Aja, Korley, Naki, Maku, Noi, Norley, Sai, Obodai, Oboshi, Soja, Torshii, and Torto, and many others. 

Natives from La also have names including Adei, Ajele, Akornor, Anyele, Anyetei, Atswei, Jama, Odoi, Odole, Okpoti, Suatey, Maale, Konney, and Yemoley. 

The people Teshie, on the other hand, present names such as Ablor, Akpor, Asheley, Ashorkor, Odua, Sowah, Mateki, Merley, Martey, Klu, and Adjei. 

 Nungua natives have naming patterns that are easily identifiable by non-Ga indigenes. These include Borkai, Borketey, Borlabi, Borkwei, and Borteley. Others are Afoley, Afotey, Odai, Mantekai, Momo, and Mantetso. 

People in the Tema traditional area respond to names such as Abokaile, Adjeiteye, Adjei, Kailebi, Labi, Mante, Nam, Korkorbi, Armah, Ashitey, and Ashia. 

Names of Twins 

Having two or more children at birth among the Gas is a blessing and is observed as sacred. Thus the annual twin festival commemoration to celebrate their importance in society.  

The first two twin boys are called Akwete and Akuete or Oko and Akuete, while the females are Akweley and Akuorkor. 

A boy and a girl will also be called Oko and Akweley.  

Some give birth to twins consecutively, and with that Tawiah is added to their names, for example, Oko Tawiah and Akweley Tawiah. 

Children born directly after twins will take the unisex names; Tawiah, Agoe, and Abam. 

 Some families sometimes add the family names to the twins’ name to show the exact clan and family they hail from. 

Day Names 

Just like other tribes in Ghana, the Ga people also have some day names they choose in addition to the ones handed down to them by their ancestors. These are Kojo, Kobla, Kwaku, Kwao, Kofi, Kwami, and Kwashi, for boys covering Monday to Sunday. While their female counterparts’ day names are Ajoa, Abla, Akua, Aba, Afua, Ama and Akoshia. 


Names are given to children based on situations in their lives, if a child loses the mother before their naming ceremony, that child will be called Ahia (to wit lack of motherly love and care). 

 The child whose father died before the naming is given the name Antobam, which means he/she did not meet the father to receive joy. 

Reincarnated names (Gbobaloi Agbeii) 

If a baby dies before being named and the parents give birth to the same gender after him or her, the Ga people believe that it is the same soul that has come back.  

To prevent a recurrence of death, incisions are made on the child’s face (especially near the lips and eyes) to prevent the evil spirit or ghost that took him or her away the first time from identifying them.  

It is a traditional belief that this will make the child survive. 

Such gbobaloi are given unpleasant names such as Booba (you came voluntarily) Aleenor (probably), Obegbei (you don’t have a name), Obaamra (you didn’t come early).  

Other names are Mminimade, (an expression in Dangbe meaning “What will I Say?) and Kukwei (pot). 

Latest Trends  

A new trend in naming has been introduced by the younger generation, in which names such as Grace, Blessing, and Praises are translated into the Ga Language. 

These are Dromo, Jormor (Dzormor) and Yijiemor, respectively. 

They precede such names with the title Naa (Naa Dromo). 

However, Reverend Dr Nathan Mensah Nunoo, the General Overseer of Faith Community Fellowship and Ministry, and a family head, says such names are not authentic Ga names and, therefore should not have the revered title Nii or Naa. 

He suggested that since it was a trendy name, children could still be given those names but should be placed after the traditional name.  

Thus, a child should be named “Naa Dedei Dromo) instead of (Naa Dromo Dedei). 

He encouraged Christians and other religions not to abandon their traditional names with the excuse of it being fetish, explaining that even if it was, prayers could be sought to take care of any negativity. 

“Just as it happened with biblical Jabez, whose mother named him because of the pain she went through, however, with prayer, he received favour with God,” Rev. Dr Nunoo said. 

He touched on the importance of protecting one’s culture by keeping and using names irrespective of religion, reminding the Gas that no region owns a child, but every child is born into a family. 


“Names are a cultural inheritance for the Ga people passed on from generation to generation. Let us therefore protect this heritage of our traditions by proudly using the names we were born with,” Rev. Dr Nunoo said. 

(This writer, also called Naa Anyorkor; with her appellation; ‘Dade’ meaning ‘metal’, is a Ga woman from La and a quarter called Abese. She has this name because she is the second girl of her parents.)