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African Names for Girls

African names for girls are derived from a wide range of cultures, languages and countries, from Arabic to Xhosa, Swahili to Yoruba. Some African names have migrated to other continents and become well-used in English-speaking nations such as the US and Great Britain, including Amara, Anika, Zuri, and place-name Kenya. Many African names for girls originated as names for days of the week, times of the year such as harvest time, positions in the family such as eldest daughter, or elements of nature such as lion or grass. In modern Africa, names sometimes have a religious element, with much of Northern Africa using Muslim names while parents in other African countries favoring Christian names. In the US, many parents began searching for African names with personal meaning following the popularity of the book and TV miniseries Roots, in which the main character reclaims his African names.

If you're searching for African names for a baby girl, here is our full list. The top names below rank among the current US Top 1000 Baby Names and are ordered by popularity. Unique names rank below the Top 1000 and are listed alphabetically.
  1. AmaraHeart
    • Origin:

      Igbo, Sanskrit, Arabic
    • Meaning:

      "grace, immortal, tribe"
    • Description:

      Amara is the Italian word for bitter, from the same root as Mary and Miriam. It has separate roots in West Africa as a name that means "grace" in the Igbo language. These two meanings are the best-known, but Amara is also a Sanskrit name meaning "immortal", an Arabic word meaning "tribe" and a Mongolian name meaning "peaceful".
  2. ZoraHeart
    • Origin:

      Serbo-Croatian
    • Meaning:

      "dawn"
    • Description:

      Zora is a meaningful literary heroine name honoring Zora Neale Hurston, an important black writer and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
  3. AshaHeart
    • Origin:

      Sanskrit; Swahili
    • Meaning:

      "hope; life"
    • Description:

      Asha is an Indian name that comes from the Sanskrit word for hope or desire, but it is also a Swahili name derived from Aisha, meaning life. Since the ascendance of Ashley through the 1980s and 90s, all baby names Ash-related have been used in the U.S. for both girls and boys, from Ashlyn to Ashby, Ashton to Asher. Despite its separate roots, Asha is part of this group. Asha is finding new life through its Game of Thrones connections.
  4. IzaraHeart
    • Origin:

      Arabic, Basque, Hausa
    • Meaning:

      "shawl; star; section of tree"
    • Description:

      Attractive, rhythmic choice with roots in several languages and cultures. It's a lesser-known a celestial name, meaning "star" in Basque and referring to a star in the constellation Boötes in Arabic.
  5. AnikaHeart
    • Origin:

      Nordic diminutive of Anne or African, Hausa
    • Meaning:

      "sweetness of face"
    • Description:

      Anike is an attractive name with ties to several cultures, both African and Scandinavian. The African pronunciation emphasizes the second syllable while the Nordic one emphasizes the first. While there will be inevitable confusion over pronunciation, either form is "correct".
  6. SenaHeart
    • Origin:

      Korean; Hindi; Arabic; African
    • Meaning:

      "this world's beauty or grace; army; to praise; bringing heaven to earth"
    • Description:

      Sena is one of those names that is as obscure in the Western World as it is simple and straightforward. Sena exists as a name in a range of languages and cultures and may be pronounced like Senna (with a soft e) or Sienna. Sena is also a place name, a surname, the name of several groups of people, and the name of a genus of moth as well as a kind of wine, among other things. The similar Cinna from The Hunger Games may make Sena more plausible as a first name.
  7. ZendayaHeart
    • Origin:

      Shona
    • Meaning:

      "to give thanks"
    • Description:

      Zendaya has propelled her unusual African name into the spotlight and up the popularity charts. Zendaya is one of the major baby name influencers of our era. What does Zendaya's name mean? The name Zendaya comes from the word for thanks, Tendai, in the Shona language, spoken in Zimbabwe and southern Zambia. The name Zendaya's popularity is directly connected to this actress-singer's rising celebrity, as it made its first appearance on the US Top 1000 in 2014. It's a distinctive choice, and thanks to our affection for the letter Z and Zendaya's great meaning, more parents are choosing it for their daughters.
  8. ZuriHeart
    • Origin:

      Kiswahili
    • Meaning:

      "good, beautiful"
    • Description:

      Zuri migrated, at least to American sensibilities, to the feminine side when an Ohio zoo used it for a female giraffe. For either gender, Zuri is an attractive name with the usual Z-initial zest.
  9. BehatiHeart
    • 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.
  10. NalaHeart
    • Origin:

      African, meaning unknown
    • Description:

      A Disney name—Nala was the friend who became the wife of Simba, hero of The Lion King. It debuted on the US Top 1000 in 2015.
  11. MakennaHeart
    • Origin:

      Spelling variation of McKenna or Eastern African
    • Meaning:

      "happy one"
    • Description:

      Part of the Mackenzie/Mackena/Mackenna family, this variation has a positive meaning.
  12. ZellaHeart
    • Origin:

      African, Bobangi
    • Meaning:

      "lacking nothing, one who knows the way"
    • Description:

      This is an African name that would fit into any culture.
  13. KiaHeart
    • Origin:

      African
    • Meaning:

      "season's beginning"
    • Description:

      Kia is a sweet, simple name that is now, unfortunately, associated with a Korean car label. Better today: Nia, Thea, or Keira.
  14. SanaaHeart
    • 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. ZolaHeart
    • Origin:

      African, Congolese; also literary name
    • Description:

      When the Eddie Murphys named their fourth daughter Zola, it affirmed the up-and-coming status of the name, which has African roots, but also literary links to Emile Zola.
  16. AmaHeart
    • Origin:

      Akan, Ghanaian, Cherokee
    • Meaning:

      "born on a 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.
  17. KamariaHeart
    • Origin:

      Swahili
    • Meaning:

      "moonlight"
    • Description:

      Lush and unusual.
  18. MakenaHeart
    • Origin:

      Spelling variation of McKenna or Kikuyu
    • Meaning:

      "happy one"
    • Description:

      A name from the East African Kikuyu language with a sweet meaning; and a simplified spelling of McKenna.
  19. NeelaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hindi, Sanskrit
    • Meaning:

      "sapphire blue"
    • Description:

      A variation of Nila, a name spread through African by the substantial Indian population there. Also a variant of Neala and Neila.
  20. LissaHeart
    • Origin:

      African and Arabic mythology name; diminutive of Melissa
    • 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.