“Titles such as Nana, Nii, Naa, Nene, Owura, Ewura, Papa, Paapa, Efo, Togbe, Junior (Jnr), Senior (Snr), etc. should not be added to names during registration of births. They are what we classify as titles and we will take them out if we detect them during the registration of births,” he added.
Mr Asare Addo, who was speaking in an interview, stated that the birth certificates of children whose births had already been registered with those titles, however, still remained valid.
“Children have their real names, so use that instead of the titles. If you want to add those titles to your names then wait till you grow up and acquire those social status symbols, then you can add them to your names. The titles should not replace our names. We are not saying use English names. We are trying to identify ourselves as Ghanaians as well as the family we belong to by our names but these titles do not link us to any family,’ he stressed.
Quoting from both Akan and Ga literature, Mr Asare Addo explained that Nii, Naa, Nana, Nene, Ewura, Maame, among others, are not names but titles given to people out of courtesy and respect.
“You are called Nii, Nana, Nene, Naa, etc. when you assume a certain social status such as when you are enstooled as chief or you become an ancestor,” he explained.
The Principal Assistant Registrar complained that the use of those titles were gradually erasing our local names. He added that the local names could stand on their own without titles.
“If you are an Akan male born on Saturday, for example, your soul name is Kwame or Ato. If you add your surname, which for instance is Mensah, to it, you become Kwame Mensah. These are two distinctive names. Why then do you add titles to them?” he asked.
He said the decision not to register names that carry such titles was not something new but pointed out that it had been one of the regulations of the registry since its inception in 1965.
The regulations of the Births and Deaths Registry in the country states among other things that titles should not be added to names for registration. It goes further to mention examples of such titles to include Reverend, Dr, Alhaji, Nana, Junior, Senior, etc.
He said parents could informally call their children by such titles at home; however, in formal situations such as birth registration, it would not be possible to add that title to the child’s name, explaining that that was the reason why globally, titles had been taken out when filling passport forms or documents.
“Our names are good enough and so we don’t need to replace them with titles,” he stated.