African Baby Names

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.

Browse African Baby Names by Alphabet

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African Background

Traditional African names often have unique stories behind them. From the day or time a baby is born to the circumstances surrounding the birth, several factors influence the names parents choose for their children. Whichever ethnic group you look at, these local names reveal a wealth of information about the bearer. Picking out names can be influenced by positive or negative circumstances the family finds themselves in around the time a child is born. Some names, especially in Zimbabwe, reflect the mood or circumstance of the family at the time of birth. Some of them serve as warnings or rebukes. The Luos in Kenya are known for adopting famous names for their children. Quite a number of mothers named their baby boys Obama in 2008 after Barack Obama, the son of a Luo man, was elected US president. In many African cultures, there is no need for someone to explain whether they are the eldest or youngest of their siblings. This is because their names can reveal that much. This is especially true of twins. Among some Ghanaian ethnic groups a name is automatically assigned based on the day the child is born. Many parents express their religious beliefs through names but some this further than others. Among some groups in eastern and southern Africa, certain names are selected depending on the time of the day or season a child is born. Parents often name babies after senior members of the clan whether dead or alive. Many people in Africa have several names - for example a name from their ethnic group, a Christian or Muslim name, as well as a name depending on the day, or time of day they were born.