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Arts & Culture

100 African Baby Names And Their Meaning

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African Babies

Close-up Shot of an African Baby (Photo credit: Seven Shooter @ Unsplash)

What is the meaning of your name? In Africa, names are symbolic. There are diverse names given to newborn babies in Africa. These names are full of meaning and sound exotic just like the African languages/dialects. Also, some Africans believe a child’s name can influence his or her destiny. Therefore, a naming ceremony is a big deal, especially in West Africa. Families, friends, and well-wishers gather together to witness the naming of the child.

When choosing names for your newborn, it is important you understand the meaning and origin of the name. However, it is important to mention that due to the intersection of dialects, a name sometimes has more than one meaning. Here we have listed 100 African baby names and their meanings. We also included variations and other meanings where such exist. The names are placed in separate categories based on the region and country of origin.

North African Baby Names

Boy Names

African Babies

(Photo Credit @CuteAfricanbabies)

Abdallah

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Servant of Allah
  • Variations –  Abdullah
  • Common in – Arabic speaking countries of Northern Africa

Bashir

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – The one who brings good news
  • Variation – Basheer

Chike

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – God’s Power or God’s Strength
  • Common in – Egypt
  • Other meaning – Chike also means “Power of God” in the Igbo language Spoken in Nigeria, West Africa.

Hakizimana

  • Language – Unknown (likely one of the Egyptian languages where the name originated from)
  • Meaning – God Saves Everything.

Idir

  • Language – Berber
  • Meaning – Alive or Survivor
  • Common in – Northern African countries like Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia.

Idris

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Studious, smart
  • Other meaning and origin – Idris is also a Welsh name that means “Ardent Lord” from the words Udd and Iris.
  • Variation – Idrees

Osiris

  • Language – Latin form of the ancient Egyptian name Usir.
  • Meaning – Powerful or Mighty
  • Adaptation – The name Osiris is adapted from Usir, the god of the dead in Egyptian Mythology.

Omari

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – High-Born
  • Other meaning – In Swahili, the name means “God is the Highest”.

SAEID

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Happy, Lucky
  • Variation – Sa’id (also Arabic) or Saida (for girls).

Usem

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Protector or Guardian
  • Variation – Usaim

Girl Names

Photo Credit: @CuteAfricanbabies

Bakhta

  • Langauge – Arabic (also Berber)
  • Meaning – Good fortune, Luck
  • Variation – Bakht (masculine form of Bakhta)

Fadhma

  • Language – Kabyle
  • Meaning – To abstain
  • Adaptation – Fadhma is derived from the name Fatima (Arabic)
  • Variations – Fatma, Fatima, Fatimah.

Jumana

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Silver pearl

Khadija

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Early Baby, respected, trustworthy
  • Variations – Khadeeja, Khatija, Hadja.

Lamia

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Shining, Radiant
  • Variation – Lamiya

Lalla

  • Language – Berber (Amazigh also known as Tamazight)
  • Meaning – Lady (an honorary title used in addressing royalty in North Africa)
  • Other uses – The name can also be used when greeting or addressing an older woman.

Massa

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – A piece of diamond, diamond
  • Variation – Masa
  • Other uses – The name Massa is a common surname but only given to girls as a first name.
  • Other meaning – In Hebrew, the name Massa means “Burden”.

Nahla

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – First drink of water
  • Variation – Nala in Swahili meaning “Gift”.

Sura

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – highness of status, highness of rank, Glory
  • Variation – Surah

Zaynab

  • Language – Arabic
  • Meaning – Fragrant flower
  • Variations – Zainab, Zaynab, Zenab.

South African Baby Names

Boy Names

(Photo Credit: #Africanbabies)

Arno

  • Language – Afrikaan
  • Meaning – Eagle
  • Origin – The origin of this name is unknown. However, it is native to the Afrikaan speaking tribes of South Africa and Namibia as well as other South African Countries where the language is spoken.

Fenyang

  • Language – Tswana
  • Meaning – Conqueror
  • Origin – Botswana

Jabulani

  • Language –  Zulu
  • Meaning – Rejoice
  • Origin – South Africa

Luan

  • Language – Afrikaan
  • Meaning – Lion
  • Origin – Native Afrikaan speaking tribes of Southern Africa
  • Similar to – Tau which also means Lion

Mamello

  • Language -Sotho
  • Meaning – Patience
  • Origin – South Africa

Mandla

  • Language – Zulu
  • Meaning – Strength
  • Origin – South Africa

Simba

  • Language – Shona
  • Meaning – Strength
  • Origin – Zimbabwe

Tumelo

  • Language – Sotho and Tswana (Sotho-Tswana)
  • Meaning – Belief
  • Origin – Bantu tribes of South Africa and Botswana

Tau

  • Language – Twsana and Sotho (Sotho-Tswana)
  • Meaning – Lion
  • Origin – Bantu tribes of Botswana and South Africa where the languages are spoken.

Uuka

  • Language – Xhosa
  • Meaning – Arise
  • Origin – South Africa

Girl Names

(Photo Credit: @CuteAfricanbabies)

Kagiso

  • Language – Tswana
  • Meaning – Peace
  • Origin – Botswana

Kaya

  • Language –  Zulu
  • Meaning – Restful place
  • Origin – Unknown
  • Other meanings – Kaya in Native America means “Elder Sister”.

Kholwa

  • Language – Zulu and Ndebele
  • Meaning – Believe
  • Origin – The name is common and likely originated from the Zulu and Northern Ndebele tribes of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Lesedi

  • Language – Sotho
  • Meaning – Light
  • Origin – The name is believed to originate from the Lesotho tribe of South Africa.

Lerato

  • Language – Sotho and Tswana
  • Meaning – Love
  • Origin – Botswana
  • Other meaning – The name Lerato is also interpreted as “Song of My Soul”, although the language or origin of this interpretation is unknown.

Mieke

  • Language – Afrikaan
  • Meaning – Water
  • Origin – This name is peculiar to the Afrikaan speaking tribes of Southern African countries like South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana.

Naledi

  • Language – Sotho and Tswana
  • Meaning – Star
  • Origin – South Africa, Botswana

Thabisa

  • Language – Zulu
  • Meaning – To bring joy
  • Origin – South Africa

Zendaya

  • Language – Shona
  • Meaning – Be Thankful or To give thanks
  • Origin – Zimbabwe

Zola

  • Language – Xhosa
  • Meaning – Calm
  • Origin – South Africa

East African Baby Names

Boy Names

(Photo Credit: @CuteAfricanbabies)

Ayaan

  • Language – Arabic, Hindu
  • Meaning – God’s gift
  • Origin – Aayan is an Arabic name commonly used by Muslims and Hindus.
  • Variations – Aayan and Ahyan.

Bahati

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Fortune, Luck
  • Origin – the name Bahati is attributed to the Swahili tribes of Eastern Africa.

Dembe

  • Origin – Luganda
  • Meaning – Peace
  • Origin – The name Dembe is said to originate from Uganda.
  • Variation – Damba

Faraji

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Consolation
  • Origin – The origin of the name is attributed to the Swahili tribes of Eastern Africa.

Hodari

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Strong or Powerful
  • Origin – The name Hodari is attributed to the Swahili-speaking countries of Eastern Africa.

Imamu

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Spiritual Leader
  • Origin – The name is an adaptation of the Arabic word “Imam”.

Jabari

  • Language – Swahili (same as Jabari in Arabic)
  • Meaning – Brave One
  • Origin – The origin of the name is attributed to the Swahili tribes of Eastern Africa
  • Other meaning – Jubari in Arabic means “Ruler”.

Kamari

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Moonlight
  • Adaptation – The name Kamari was borrowed from the Arabic word “Qumar” meaning Moon.
  • Another meaning – Kamari is also a word for Gambling in Swahili.

Kheri

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Better, Goodness
  • Origin – The name Khari is said to be of Swahili origin.
  • Other meanings – Khari and Khari are variations of the name Kheri. Unlike Kheri, Khary/Khari means “Kingly” in Arabic.

Ochen

  • Language – Possibly Luganda of the major languages native to Uganda.
  • Meaning – One of the Twins
  • Origin – The name is said to originate from Uganda.

Girl Names

(Photo Credit: @CuteAfricanbabies)

Abeba

  • Language – Eritrean
  • Meaning – Flower
  • Origin – The name Abeba is said to have its roots in the Eritrean Language “Tigrinya”. The language is spoken in Eritrea as well as Northern Ethiopia.

Aberash

  • Language – Amharic
  • Meaning – Glowing, shining, giving off light
  • Origin – The root of the name is unknown. However, being an Amharic name its likely origin is Ethiopia. This is because the Amharic language is native to Ethiopia.

Aailyah

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Exalted One
  • Origin – The name Aaliyah is said to be of Hebrew and Arabic origins.
  • Other meaning – Aaliyah in Hebrew means “to rise”  or “ascend”.

Abla

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Wild Rose
  • Origin – The name Abla is of Arabic and Swahili origins. The name has different meanings in both languages.
  • Other meanings – Abla is also a girl name in Arabic meaning “With a full figure”

Achen

  • Origin – Possibly Luganda
  • Meaning – Twin sister
  • Origin – Uganda

Imani

  • Language- Swahili
  • Meaning – Faith or Believe
  • Origin – It is believed to originate from the Swahili-speaking regions of Eastern Africa.
  • Adaptation – The name Imani is said to be derived from the Arabic word Iman which also means “Faith

Nala

  • Language- Swahili
  • Meaning – Gift
  • Origin – The name is believed to originate from the Swahili tribes of Eastern Africa
  • Other meaning – Nahla which is a variation of the name Nala has many other meanings. In Arabic it means First drink of water, In Sanskrit, it means stem or hollow reed and in some other African languages, it means Queen.

Nia

  • Language- Swahili
  • Meaning – Purpose
  • Origin – Unknown. But in Africa, it is mostly attributed to the Swahili tribes’ o,f Eastern Africa.
  • Variant – Nyah
  • Other meaning – The girl name Nia has different meanings in different languages. It is also a short form of names like Antonia.

Taraji

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Hope
  • Origin – it is mostly attributed to the Swahili tribes’ of Eastern Africa
  • Variation – Taraja

Zuri

  • Language – Swahili
  • Meaning – Beautiful
  • Origin – In Africa, the name Zuri is mostly attributed to the Swahili tribes’ of Eastern Africa
  • Other meaning – Zuri in Hebrew means “My rock” and in French, it means “Awesome” or “Lovely”.

West African Baby Names

Boy Names

(Photo Credit: CuteAfricanbabies)

Aamadu

  • Language – Fula
  • Meaning – Commendable, Praiseworthy
  • Origin – The name Ahamd is an adaptation of the Arabic name Ahmad. The origin of the name is often traced back to its Arabic roots.
  • Variations – Ahmed, Hamid.

Abiola

  • Language – Yoruba
  • Meaning – Born in wealth
  • Origin – Abiola is a boy name from the Yoruba-speaking tribes of SouthWest Nigeria.

Bitrus

  • Language – Hausa
  • Meaning – Peter
  • Origin – From the Hebrew name Peter. Peter is a common biblical name that is translated into several other languages. Bitrus is the Hausa form of Peter.

Diallo

  • Language – Fula
  • Meaning – Bold
  • Origin – The name Diallo is commonly used by the Fula-speaking countries of West and Central Africa.

Femi

  • Language – Yoruba
  • Meaning – Love me
  • Origin – Femi is a West African name that is indigenous to the Yoruba tribe of South West Nigeria.

Kofi

  • Language – Akan
  • Meaning – Born on Friday
  • Origin – Ghana.

Kwame

  • Language – Akan
  • Meaning – Born on Saturday
  • Origin – Ghana

Kyauta

  • Language – Hausa
  • Meaning – Gift
  • Origin – The name is attributed to the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Chad, and Cameroon.

Mawuli

  • Language – Akan
  • Meaning – God lives
  • Origin – The name is attributed to the Ewe-speaking tribes of West Africa.

Nnamdi

  • Language – Igbo
  • Meaning – My God is Alive
  • Origin – Nnamdi is a boy name that originates from the Igbo-speaking tribes of SouthEast Nigeria.

Girl Names

(Photo credit: @exceliciouscakes)

Ada

  • Language – Igbo
  • Meaning – First daughter
  • Origin – The name Ada originated from the Igbo-speaking tribes of SouthEast Nigerian.

Adjao

  • Language – Akan
  • Meaning – Born on Monday
  • Origin – Ghana
  • Variation – Adwoa

Amaka

  • Language  – Igbo
  • Meaning – Precious
  • Origin – The name Amaka originated from the Igbo-speaking tribes of SouthEast Nigeria.

Ama

  • Language – Akan
  • Meaning – Born on Saturday
  • Origin – Ghana.

Fa’izah

  • Language – Hausa, Arabic
  • Meaning – Victorious
  • Origin – Arabic, and Hausa speaking tribes of West Africa.

Gzifa

  • Language – Ewe
  • Meaning – Peaceful one
  • Origin – The name is said to originate from the Ewe-speaking tribes of West Africa. The Ewe people are indigenous to Ghana and Togo.

Lami

  • Language – Hausa
  • Meaning – Born on Thursday
  • Origin – The name Lami is borrowed from the Arabic word Al-hamis meaning “Thursday”.

Mawunyo

  • Language – Ewe
  • Meaning – God is Good
  • Origin – The name is said to originate from the Ewe-speaking tribes of West Africa. This tribe is found mostly in Ghana and Togo.

Maryam

  • Language – Hausa
  • Meaning –
  • Origin – Maryam is an adaptation of the Hebrew name Miriam.
  • Variations – Mariam, Miryam
  • Other meaning – In Iran, Miryam is also the name of the Tuberose flower, named after the Virgin Mary.

Thema

  • Language – Akan
  • Meaning – Queen
  • Origin – Ghana

Central African Baby Names

Boy Names

(Photo Credit: @CuteAfricanbabies)

Bonga

  • Language – Umbundu
  • Meaning – He who is looking
  • Origin – The name is believed to originate from the Mbundu tribe of North-West Angola.

Fumu

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – King
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African countries.

Kembo

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – Heaven
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African Countries.

Matondo

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – Thanksgiving
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African countries.

Menkam

  • Language – Bamileke
  • Meaning – Noble child
  • Origin – Bagangte, Cameroon.

Muzowa

  • Language – Lunda
  • Meaning – Rainy day
  • Origin – Lunda-speaking tribes of Zambia and Angola.

Mayangi

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – Happiness
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African countries.Kongo tribes of Central African countries.
  • Variation – Yangi

Nkanga

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – Eagle
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African countries.

Sakuwaha

  • Language – Lunda
  • Meaning – Handsome man
  • Origin – Lunda-speaking tribes of Zambia and Angola.

Tchianga

  • Language – Fe’Fe
  • Meaning – Helper
  • Origin – Cameroon

Girl Names

(Photo Credit: @CuteAfricanbabies)

Busine

  • Language – Yisira (Yipunu)
  • Meaning – Wealth. Riches, Well-being
  • Origin – Punu tribes found in Gabon and other Central African countries like DR Congo.
  • Variations – Busin, Busyne, Busyn

Dia

  • Language – Mbaama
  • Meaning – Love
  • Origin – Benue-Congo and Gabon who are native speakers of the Mbaama language.
  • Variations – Diya, Dya.

Diba

  • Language – Luba
  • Meaning – Sun
  • Origin – Democratic Republic of Congo are native speakers of the Luba-Kasai language.
  • Other meaning – The name also means “brocade”, rich and colorful silk in Persian.

Elikya

  • Language – Lingala
  • Meaning – Hope
  • Origin – The Lingala-speaking tribes of Central Africa. These include DR Congo, Angola, and the Republic of South Sudan.

Kiminu

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – Faith
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African countries.

Luwi

  • Language – Lunda
  • Meaning – Mercy, Kindness
  • Origin – Lunda-speaking tribes of Zambia and Angola.

Makiese

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – Happiness
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African countries.

Malundama

  • Language – Kikongo
  • Meaning – Hidden things
  • Origin – Kongo tribes of Central African countries.

Ndosi

  • Language – Yipunu (Yisira)
  • Meaning – Dream
  • Origin – Punu tribes are native of the Republic of Gabon and the Republic of Congo.
  • Variation – Ndossi

Powamana

  • Language – Lunda
  • Meaning – Beautiful woman
  • Origin – Lunda-speaking tribes of Zambia and Angola.

Conclusion

African baby names are unique and often have deep meanings. There are many things that influences the name of a baby born in Africa. Examples are; the day the child was born, the weather condition, the family lineage (e.g. royalty), and the family tradition, culture or religion etc. This article should be helpful for expectant mothers who are looking for cute African names for their baby. We love to see more unique African baby names in the comment section below. Kindly leave a comment, telling us about an African baby name, its meaning and origin.

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