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You will not colonise my children’s names

Simbu children (Simbu Children Foundation)
Sil Bolkin - "The names I chose for my children are saintly names from Simbu" (Simbu Children Foundation)


PORT MORESBY - Duncan Gabi must be thanked for raising the issue of 'decolonising the mind'.

I am a practicing Roman Catholic but all my eight children have traditional Simbu and Aroma Coast names.

When I took my first two children to the priest to enrol for baptism, the priest asked for their names.

I said the first is Apa Bikegale and the other is Gorku Dama.

The priest enquired about their Christian names and I politely told him that he could baptise them with their local names and make them Christians.

He refused and asked me to choose two biblical names.

I bluntly told him that we have both saints and sinners in Simbu, and the names I had chosen for my children are saintly names from Simbu.

The priest still refused to baptise them.

I took the issue to the Archbishop of Port Moresby and the theologians at the Catholic Seminary in Bomana.

The scholars in Bomana all agreed that children with local names can be baptised and made Christian.

This is called ‘inculturation’, a change allowed by the Second Vatican Council of 1964-68.

So now all my eight children have been baptised uniquely Simbu and Aroma names, and they are all Christians.

I believe the same concept can also be implemented in other aspects of life.


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Garrett Roche

Kela, I admire your persistence in having your children baptised with saintly Simbu and Aroma names.

Catholic church law does indeed allow such names to be given in baptism, the only reservation being that the name "is not foreign to Christian sentiment".

So a name like 'Satan' would not be acceptable.

I hope more people follow your example.

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