Baby Names And It’s Origin: African Names And Their Meanings

Diverse tribes across the continent from places like the Sahara Desert, Serengeti, and Mt. Kilimanjaro, provide a wealth of naming heritage representing great warriors, beauty, and traditions passed down through generations.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet…
Asked Juliet of Romeo in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.

Yes it’s true that a rose if called by some other name would still smell just as sweet as a rose. However, in her plea to Romeo to shed his surname Montague, Juliet reiterates the fact that a name has a lot to do with one’s identity. Yes, it is true that a change in one’s name would not change the person. Nevertheless, in most cultures names have got a lot to do with the child born. Birth of a child is a celebrated event all over the world. There are lot of expectations and joy associated with the arrival of a new member into a family. In many cases, the emotions associated with a child’s birth can be understood by the baby name meanings.

Are you looking for names for your little bundle of joy? If it is names of African origin that you are looking for, this article will surely be of help. Here is a list of African names separately categorized into names for boys and girls, along with their meanings.


African Names with Meanings for Boys

Name Meaning
Abayomi One who brings a lot of joy(Nigeria)
Abdul God’s servant
Abiola One who is born in wealth and honor
Ade Royal (Nigeria)
Adebayo Born in the time of happiness
Adeben The twelfth born. (Ghana)
Adeen Little fire
Ajani One who wins the struggle
Amari Someone of great strength
Ayo Happiness in Nigerian
Azibo Youth in Nigerian
Bakari Promising (In Swahili)
Barke Blessings
Biton Born after a long wait
Bobo One who is born on Tuesday. (Ghanian name)
Bomani Malawian for a strong soldier
Bron The source or origin
Chacha Strong (popular in Zimbabwe)
Chidi God exists
Chike Power of God
Chimalsi Young and proud
Chisulo Very strong, like steel
Dakarai Happiness
Daren A Nigerian name which means born at night
Davu The beginning
Dia West African name that means the champion
Diallo The brave one
Din Congolese name that means the great
Ebo Born on Tuesday
Ekon Strong in Nigerian
Elewa Very intelligent
Elimu Knowledge
Enam A gift from God
Erasto Man of peace
Erevu Clever
Eze King
Fabumi Gift of God
Fahim Learned
Fakih Intellectual
Farhani Happy
Gamba Warrior
Gazali Majestic
Genet Eden
Ghalib Winner
Girma Majesty
Gyasi Wonderful
Haamid Grateful
Haben Pride
Habib Beloved
Hagos Joy
Hamisi Born on Thursday
Hasan Handsome (In Swahili)
Hasani Handsome (In Swahili)
Idi Born during the Id-ul-Fitr festival
Idrissa Immortal
Ipyana Grace
Issa Salvation
Jabari Fearless
Jabarl Valiant (In Swahili)
Jabir Comforter
Name Meaning
Jamal Elegance
Jamar Handsome
Jawara Peace loving
Jelani Powerful
Kellan Powerful
Kendi Loved one
Kibwe Blessed’ (In Swahili)
Kirabo Gift
Kofi Born on Friday
Kojo Born on Monday
Latif Gentle
Lencho Lion
Lesedi Light
Lutalo Warrior
Maalik Experienced
Mahari Forgiver
Mamelo Patience
Manu Second born
Mhina Joyful
Minkah Justice
Naasir Defender
Nassor Victorious
Negasi Royalty
Negus Emperor
Nuru Swahili for ‘born at night’
Obi Heart
Ochi Laughter
Ohin Chief
Omarr Long living (In Swahili)
Omorede Prince
Otieno Born at night
Paulo Place of rest
Phomello Succeed
Quaashie Born on Sunday
Raimi Kind
Ramses Born of the Sun
Rashidi Thinker or counselor (In Swahili)
Reth King
Roho Soul
Rudo Love
Rufaro Joy
Runako Handsome
Saad Good luck
Said Happy
Saleem Peaceful (In Swahili)
Sekani Merriment
Sekayi Laughter
Tahir Pure
Taj Exalted
Taji Crown
Talib Seeker
Tanishia Born on Monday
Tau Lion
Uba Lord
Ubora Excellence
Umar Longevity
Upendo Love
Yair Bold
Yaro Son
Zahur Flower
Zola Quietness
Zuberi Strong (In Swahili)

African Names with Meanings for Girls

Name Meaning
Ababuo A child that returns
Abagbe This child was desired
Abebe Blossomed
Adah First daughter’ in Nigerian
Afya Health
Akili Someone who is bright and smart. (In Swahili)
Alika Most beautiful. (Nigerian)
Amina Truthful (In Swahili)
Anana Soft and gentle
Ananda One who deserves love
Baina Sparkling
Beyonce One who is beyond others
(African-American origin)
Bina Freshness
Binta With God
Bisa One who is greatly loved
Bunme / Bunmi My gift
Chika God is supreme
Cyrah Enthroned
Dalia Tanzanian name for ‘flower’
Dalila Gentle in Swahili
Dayo Arrival of joy
Deka Pleasing in Somali
Dore The gift
Ebun Being a gift
Efia Born on Friday
Efuru Daughter of heaven
Eshe Energy in Swahili
Esi Born on Sunday
Esosa God’s blessing
Faiza Victorious
Fana Light
Faraa Cheerful
Farida Unique
Fayola Lucky
Fola Glory and honor
Gaynell African-American name that means ‘shiny’
Ghalyela Precious
Gimbya Princess
Hadiya Gift, in Swahili
Haiba Charm
Halla An unexpected gift
Hamida Gracious
Hamnna Happiness
Hawa Desire
Hazina Wealth
Hija Daughter
Ife Love
Ilori Special treasure
Iman Faith
Imena Dream
Isoke God’s precious gift
Iverem Blessings
Jahzara Blessed princess
Jameelah / Jamelia Beautiful
Jamelia Beautiful (In Somali)
Johanna Grace of God
Johar Jewel
Kabibe Little lady
Juji Heap of love
Kabira Powerful
Kafi Quiet
Kagiso Peace
Kalifa Chaste in Somali
Kamaria Like the moon’ in Swahili
Keyah In good health
Kia Hill
Kianga Sunshine
Kitoko Beautiful
Laqueta The quiet one
(African-American origin)
Latifa Gentle
Name Meaning
Latanya Fairy Queen
(African-American origin)
Layla Lady of the night. Born at night
Lewa Beautiful
Lila Good
Lisha Mysterious
Lulu Pearl (Tanzanian)
Madaha Elegant
Maha Beautiful eyes
Maisha Life
Makena Happy person
Mandisa South African name for ‘sweet’
Marini Charming
Morowa Queen
Mosa Graceful
Nabila Noble
Nadia The caller
Naima Graceful
Naja Strong
Nala Successful
Neema Born in prosperity
Neema One who is born in prosperity. (In Swahili)
Nichelle A victorious girl
Oba River Goddess
Obioma Kind
Onaedo Gold
Oni Born in a blessed place
Orma Free
Palesa Flower
Phenyo Victory
Pulika Obedience
Quanda Companion
(African-American origin)
Rafia Elegant
Raisa Of high moral and intellectual qualities
Ramla Prophetess
Rhaxma Sweet
Ridhaa Goodwill
Sabah Sunrise
Sabra Patience
Sade Sweetly singing
Saida Happy
Sanura A rare name that means kitten in Swahili
Saran Joy
Semira Fulfilled
Shantell Song (African-American origin)
Shasha Precious water
Tabita Graceful
Tanesha /Taneshea /Tanisha Born on Monday
Thema Queen
Tisha Strong willed
Titilayo Everlasting joy
Tumpe Let’s thank God
Uma Second daughter (Nigerian)
Urbi Princess
Uzima Vitality
Uzuri Beauty
Winna Friend
Winta Desire
Wub Beautiful
Yakini Truth
Zahra / Zahara Flower
Zainabu Beautiful (In Swahili)
Xola Stay in Peace
Zakiya Intelligent (In Swahili)
Zalika Well born (In Swahili)
Zawadi Gift
Zena Ethiopian for ‘Fame’
Zola Productive
Zina Secret Spirit

The names used by people work like a window to their traditions and beliefs. While making this list, I came across a number of African names meanings that were related to elements of nature and warfare. Some even meant weapons used in wars and certain animals like the leopard and octopus. I believe those are traditional names that highlight the close association of these people with nature and way of living in earlier times in the African heartland, when they fought with other tribes or hunted big game. I have excluded such names from the list and have included those that I thought are relevant for the internet users who are looking for African names for their children. Hope this helps.


Written by PH

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