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Emma Abodurin Efua Thompson
Today my African niece Abby new born daughter was named, baptized and christened into the community. This morning we had the religious event in a Methodist Church. The ritual was a combination of African and Christian ritual. My wife and I were the only two persons present that were not of African heritage, many like my African niece were from Sierra Leone.
The minister, in true African style, made much of the baby’s name: Emma Abodurin Efua Thompson. He explained Emma is the female name for Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. Emma’s father’s mother was named Emma. Abodurin, one of the names of the baby’s mother’s mother means joyful. Efua is word for Friday, the day of the week she was born and Thompson is her father’s last name. In the Jewish and Muslim and Christian traditions names are important. In Isaiah 43.1 God says: “I have called you by name; you are mine.” When I was a youth minister at a Catholic Church I used to give youth at confirmation a metal with this quote on it to remind them of the confirmation of their commitment to God.
Later in the day we had a picnic, Sierra Leone style, where everyone brings delicious foods from their native lands, where there is more than you can eat and were everyone goes home loaded with food. My other African niece form Sierra Leone, who lives here, stayed late and helped to clean up. Between all the food she brought home and all the food we took from the picnic we have lots of delicious African meals in our refrigerator and freezer.
From watching my niece cook this style food in our kitchen I realize that is truly ‘slow food’, taking a long time to prepare. So it is necessary to eat the food slowly and enjoy it for some time.
Emma was chewing on our fingers today. As she grows up she will have a lot of delicious foods to chew on if she chooses to do so. Maybe like her older brother she will be a ‘mac & cheese kid’ but maybe not and she will learn from her mother and grandmother how to cook African food and continue the tradition.
At each of these events I meet people I have met before at similar events and meet new persons, some from long distances who come to remember their tradition the food represents, a tradition of friendship and hospitality.