African Names

  1. Kamaria
    • Origin:

      Swahili
    • Meaning:

      "moonlight"
    • Description:

      Lush and unusual.
  2. Behati
    • Origin:

      Afrikaans version of Beatrice
    • Meaning:

      "blessed; she who brings happiness"
    • Description:

      Namibian supermodel Behati Prinsloo, who has walked the runway for every designer from Prada to Versace to Vera Wang, has introduced us to this Afrikaans version of Beate or Beatrice, a rhythmic twist on an international favorite.
  3. Nemy
    • Origin:

      Mende
    • Meaning:

      "sweet"
    • Description:

      Friendly and energetic name from the Mende language of West Africa.
  4. Akosua
    • Origin:

      Twi, Ewe, Ghanaian
    • Meaning:

      "born on Sunday"
    • Description:

      Akosua means "born on a Sunday," which relates the name to the sun and thus to fire.
  5. Ayan
    • Origin:

      Somali
    • Meaning:

      "fortune"
    • Description:

      The African name Ayan was first seen on the US Top 1000 for boys in 2014. It's both simple and distinctive, a winning combination.
  6. Zala
    • Origin:

      Ethiopian or Slovene variation of Rozalija
    • Meaning:

      "a people from southwest Ethiopia; rose"
    • Description:

      Simple but sultry.
  7. Kato
    • Origin:

      African, Uganda
    • Meaning:

      "second of twins"
    • Description:

      Kato gained a lot of attention during the O. J. Simpson trial via witness Kato Kaelin (born Brian). It is also the name of a fictional character in "The Green Hornet." Spelled Cato, it has a lot more credibility as an ancient name.
  8. Kwaku
    • Origin:

      Ghanaian, Akan, Twi
    • Meaning:

      "Born on a Wednesday"
    • Description:

      The Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. Most Ghanaians have a name using this system (think Kofi Annan, whose name means born on a Friday).
  9. Kano
    • Origin:

      African place-name or Japanese
    • Meaning:

      "the god of the waters"
    • Description:

      Pleasing crossover possibility.
  10. Ama
    • Origin:

      Ewe, Akan, Ghanaian, Cherokee
    • Meaning:

      "born on Saturday; water"
    • Description:

      Ama is a day name used by the Akan people of Ghana for girls born on Saturday. Names that reference a baby's birth by day of the week, time of day, or season of the year are common in many African cultures. Ama is one that can be used happily by parents who live in English-speaking countries.
  11. Nya
    • Origin:

      African
    • Meaning:

      "tenacity"
    • Description:

      A relatively new name on the scene, increasing in popularity since 1999.
  12. Nyala
    • Origin:

      African, Ethiopian
    • Meaning:

      "mountain goat"
    • Description:

      Nyala is a secret nature name with a fashionable animal meaning. Nyala might be an appropriate name for a baby girl born under the sign of Capricorn, which is symbolized by the goat, or in the Chinese Year of the Goat -- though the last one was 2015 and we won't have another until 2027. Although the nee beginning is most frequently cited as the correct pronunciation, the name can -- and often will -- be pronounced with the first syllable rhyming with my and sigh.
  13. Barack
    • Origin:

      Hebrew; also Swahili from Arabic
    • Meaning:

      "thunderbolt, lightning; or blessing"
    • Description:

      The name of the 44th president, which he inherited from his Kenyan father, is related to the Swahili word "baraka," meaning "blessing," derived from the Arabic "baracka." It is linked, through the Semitic root, to the Hebrew name Baruch. Barack is also sometimes an alternate spelling of the Hebrew name Barak, which stems from the Semitic word for "lightning." Barack Obama may have found it a difficult name to grow up with, but the same won't be true for the many babies starting to be given that name. Other parents are being inspired to use Obama, which is a common surname among the Luo people of East Africa meaning "to lean or bend."
  14. Sanaa
    • Origin:

      Swahili; Arabic
    • Meaning:

      "work of art; shining light"
    • Description:

      Simple-yet-unusual name with a creative meaning. Actress Sanaa Lathan promoted it, and it was on the U.S. popularity list from 2003 to 2011. Shaquille O'Neal used it as the middle name of his daughter Amirah. And spelled Sana'a, it's the capital of Yemen.
  15. Zuri
    • Origin:

      Kiswahili
    • Meaning:

      "good, beautiful"
    • Description:

      Singular, strong, and rare outside East Africa.
  16. Lissa
    • Origin:

      African, Arabic mythological name; diminutive of Melissa, Greek
    • Meaning:

      "honeybee"
    • Description:

      Lissa might be an abbreviation of Melissa, but it's more substantial in its own right: Lissa is the name of a supreme mother goddess in African mythology and an Arabic symbol of rebirth.
  17. Kwame
    • Origin:

      Ghanaian, Akan
    • Meaning:

      "born on Saturday"
    • Description:

      The Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. Most Ghanaians have a name using this system (think Kofi Annan, whose name means born on a Friday).
  18. Bayo
    • Origin:

      African, Nigerian, Yoruba
    • Meaning:

      "the crown meets joy"
    • Description:

      Short form of Adebayo
  19. Ngozi
    • Origin:

      African, Nigerian-Igbo
    • Meaning:

      "blessing"
    • Description:

      Dynamic and creative; common in Africa, challenging here. Pronunciation isn't as difficult as you'd guess, but everyone will have to ask. Many favor n-GO-zee, but a native speaker tells us that it is closer to n-GAW-zee, and we've found at least one n-GAH-zee, too.
  20. Kenya
    • Origin:

      Place name, Kikuyu
    • Meaning:

      "mountain of white"
    • Description:

      Kenya, a name borrowed from the East African nation and theoretically unisex, is now used mostly for girls. While it's had its ups and downs since entering the US Top 1000 in 1968, it currently ranks lower than spelling variant Kenia.