This wide fruit was grown in Africa and introduced to the rest of the world in 3000bc. In precolonized 18th to 19th centery, Niger was the domain of the main Normadic tribes such as the Fulani, Toureg and Hausa who were mainly cattle hearders who followed the rains and were constantly on the move. Their versitle lifestly required a versital and light weight cargo and the calabash served this purpose since it was light weight and flexible in its adaptability. The Normads carved the calabash into bowls and spoons along with other needed objects and utensils.
The wide bowls where usually used to store water for drinking and prayers.
Often a child was named after a calabash bowl and would inherit it and the responsibility of keeping it and its historical importance within the family. Because the bowls were so treasured, they were maintained and repaired as needed. In traditional repair, instead of being viewed as less than perfect, these types of repairs were seen as marks of beauty.
As time progressed, the calabash became a traditional magic pot that represented the cosmic womb. Inside it, we add ingredients to direct our intentions to that which we want to “birth to life”. The intention here, is to offer preserve and protect what is valued.
Since it grows on a tree and on a ground vine it retains healing energy which is good for natural resources like water and Freshly handmade sheabutter.
With a bowl of light: the unique energy that shines through them... a calabash (bowl) full of light, full of power, full of goodness is used across Africa and the world to name Children.
Calabash and Fatherhood
In traditional African society, the naming ceremony announces the birth of a newborn, it is an avenue to introduce the child to the extended family, the larger community, and above all, it confers on the child a name. The naming ceremony of a new baby is one very important rite of passage in life as the name given to a baby can have an influence on their personality.
In many African families, children have access to a father figure through ‘social fathers’ – uncles, older brothers and grandfathers. These fatherfigures often assume the duties of the absent biological father, providing children with emotional and financial support and a nurturing relationship, which includes naming them, with the 1st month of birth.
Your identity and knowing your lineage gives you a sense of belonging. Your surname says a lot about your identity and lineage. Usually, children with absent and undisclosed fathers take their mothers’ surnames at birth but often in adolescence search for the identity of their biological father.
“In African contexts, we have this idea that your paternal ancestry is so important that, if it is missing, things might go wrong in your life because you do not have that protection. It causes a lot of distress amongst young people.
To the world, you are a Man.
To our village, you are the world.