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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:

      Strong, attractive, and stylish, Amara is a true multicultural choice enjoying some popularity in both the US and the UK. In the US Top 1000 since the turn of this century, Amara has been holding steady in the rankings between overly popular and obscure.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  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. SenaHeart
    • Origin:

      Korean; Hindi; Arabic; Ewe
    • 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.
  6. 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".
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. NyaHeart
    • Origin:

      African
    • Meaning:

      "tenacity"
    • Description:

      A relatively new name on the scene, increasing in popularity since 1999.
  12. 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.
  13. NgoziHeart
    • 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.
  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. 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.
  16. KamariaHeart
    • Origin:

      Swahili
    • Meaning:

      "moonlight"
    • Description:

      Lush and unusual.
  17. NemyHeart
    • Origin:

      Mende
    • Meaning:

      "sweet"
    • Description:

      Friendly and energetic name from the Mende language of West Africa.
  18. TarajaHeart
    • Origin:

      African, Kiswahili
    • Meaning:

      "hope"
    • Description:

      The raja sequence of sounds gives it a regal feel.
  19. AmaHeart
    • 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.
  20. ZellaHeart
    • Origin:

      African, Bobangi
    • Meaning:

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

      This is an African name that would fit into any culture.