Patterns of Igbo Spousal Names

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Anyachebelu, A.
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Ihafa: A Journal of African Studies
Spousal names are integral aspects of Igbo culture and society. Igbo spousal names usually describe the character or nature of the bearer and are closely linked to the person and the state of his/her marriage. This paper focuses on a critical examination of how Igbo spousal names reflect the social values in Igbo society and how they make statements about the bearer, the givers of such names, and their family situations. It examines the impacts of the names and how they could be employed as tools for sustaining marriage institution in Igbo society. The paper discusses the Igbo pattern of spousal naming, their social relevance, and implications in the society. It takes a critical look at contemporary spousal naming pattern in Igbo land and corroborates existing notions that names are not just labels but fundamentals in the reflection, revelation, signification and sustenance of certain social values among the Igbo people. The paper concludes by suggesting parameters that could be used in designating spousal names in Igbo society.
Naming is uniquely a human affair ferried through the medium of language. Spousal names are employed in similar fashion in the context of marriage in Igbo society. Names are words by which reality is known, expressed, and appreciated in every culture. They signal various forms of socio-cultural information and belief. The basic purpose of human naming is to provide a symbolic system of individual identification. These names could be personal, maiden, family or spousal names. Spousal names in Igbo society are as old as marriage tradition in the society.
Spousal names; patterns; Igbo; social values; parameters.