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August 24, 2008 Sib3, aka What’s In a Name?

A week after a baby is born, it is named, during a festival known as a sib3. A sheep is slaughtered and then cooked for all the family and friends. Today was the sib3 for my newest baby cousin, Xalti’s baby.

We drove to the village where she’ll be living with her father and some cousins. It’s only about 20 km away, but it took an hour to get there, since the road isn’t paved for much of the way.

In addition to the huge meals with dozens of people, there was a small ceremony where all the family members (including me) got to suggest names for the munchkin. I’d offered several, mostly names of male Moroccans I know (since I don’t know many Arabic or Berber names), but the one Xalti liked best was SalaH Adin, known to most westerners as Saladin, the Muslim hero of the Crusades. (By which I mean, he was the guy that kicked the Crusaders’ butts, on behalf of the Muslims. He totally schooled Richard the Lionheart, along with all the assembled force of Western Europe.)

Xalti had someone write down one name from each family member, mix them all together, and then closed her eyes, reached into the folded papers, and picked her baby’s name. She ended up with a name that, like “Kawtar”, is found in the Qur’an but is not hugely common in Berber villages: Yusf (the Arabic version of Joseph).

Then came the feasting, gift-giving, and socializing, which lasted well into the night. My Berber family sure knows how to throw a party!

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps