All over the world, people of African descent have been able to trace their African ancestry through the names that their forefathers had. For many, tracing back to Africa took many years and extensive research due to many factors. These difficulties led to many people giving up on ever knowing where they are from.
One of the significant issues that made it difficult for many to find their African roots was due to naming systems. Yes, slaves had names but were these names their original birth names given to them in Africa?
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Unfortunately, the answer is NO. At the start of the slave trade, many Africans taken to various parts of the world not only lost families but lost their identity mainly because their names were taken from them. Enslavers saw slaves as “valuable goods” rather than humans and could not be bothered with their “strange” names.
Through historical findings, names of Africans were never recorded in the record books of slave masters and buyers. Many were marked and grouped, but names were never necessary.
Here are some popular ways by which slaves were named during the slave trade and early years of gaining freedom.