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Boy Names from Africa

Boy Names from Africa
African names for baby boys represent the many languages and cultures from around the continent. Americans may be familiar with African names such as Chidi, Kamau, Neo, Kehinde, and Nnamdi through pop culture references. Barack, a Swahili name, is the widest known, as the name of 44th President Barack Obama.

Amari is currently the most popular African boy name in the United States. Along with Amari, other African boy names in the US Top 1000 are Omari, Ayan, Dakari, Sekani, Khari, and Zaire. Rare African boy names worth considering include Idir, Odion, Zenebe, and Uzochi.

African baby names for boys are historic choices that honor heritage. For our full list of African baby names, click here.

African Boy Names

UnathiHeart

  • Origin:

    Xhosa
  • Meaning:

    "God is with us"
  • Description:

    A unisex Xhosa name used in South Africa.

NeoHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin or Tswana
  • Meaning:

    "new or gift"
  • Description:

    This nouveau name of Keanu Reeves's character in The Matrix has not enjoyed the same burst of popularity as its female counterpart, Trinity, but it definitely sounds, well, newer. Neo Rauch is an interesting contemporary German artist.

AmariHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "eternal"
  • Description:

    An originally male name also used for girls, mostly because of its soft sound and vowel ending. Related to names and words in a range of languages—Yoruba, Thai, Hebrew—and with a variety of positive meanings.

ObiHeart

  • Origin:

    African, Nigerian-Ibo
  • Meaning:

    "heart"
  • Description:

    "Return of the Jedi": strongly linked to the complex "Star Wars" character, Obi Wan Kenobi.

KhariHeart

  • Origin:

    West African
  • Meaning:

    "kingly"
  • Description:

    Though used quite often for babies of both sexes, Khari, meaning "kingly," was traditionally a boys' name. Musical couple Fetty Wop and Masika Kalysha, however, named their daughter Khari.

ZaireHeart

  • Origin:

    Place name
  • Meaning:

    "the river that swallows all rivers"
  • Description:

    An African place name—Zaire was a Central African state from 1971 to 1997—it comes from a Kongo term meaning "the river that swallows all rivers." A bold and wearable choice for a son.

ZuriHeart

  • Origin:

    Kiswahili
  • Meaning:

    "good, beautiful"
  • Description:

    Singular, strong, and rare outside East Africa.

KofiHeart

  • Origin:

    Twi
  • Meaning:

    "born on Friday"
  • Description:

    This Akan day name is very much associated with Kofi Annan, the seventh secretary general of the United Nations. 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.

KwameHeart

  • Origin:

    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). Kwame is the name for boys born on a Saturday. (The name for girls born on a Saturday is Amma).

SekaniHeart

  • Origin:

    Sekani, Tumbuka
  • Meaning:

    "people on the rocks; laugh"
  • Description:

    Sekani was the fastest-rising boy name of 2019, inspired by the character Sekani Carter in the 2018 movie The Hate U Give.

AyanHeart

  • 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.

KwakuHeart

  • Origin:

    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 Ghanans have a name using this system (think Kofi Annan, whose name means born on a Friday).

BarackHeart

  • 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."

OmariHeart

  • Origin:

    Swahili, Arabic
  • Meaning:

    "populous, flourishing"
  • Description:

    This name, like Omar and Amari, has been in the US Top 1000 for many years. After taking a downturn in 2008, it's now again on the upswing. Actor Omari Hardwick keeps it in the public eye.

AjaniHeart

  • Origin:

    Nigerian, Yoruban
  • Meaning:

    "the victor"
  • Description:

    An easily assimilated African name, a novel twist on Johnny.

InikoHeart

  • Origin:

    Nigerian
  • Meaning:

    "time of trouble"
  • Description:

    African name with Niko-nickname option.

KatoHeart

  • 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.

OdionHeart

  • Origin:

    Esan
  • Meaning:

    "first born of twins"
  • Description:

    Strong name from the Esan language of Nigeria, with a satisfyingly specific meaning for a child's place in the family.

ChidiHeart

  • Origin:

    Igbo
  • Meaning:

    "God exists"
  • Description:

    A very common boys' name (and nickname) in Nigeria that some Americans will recognize as the name of one of the main characters on NBC's The Good Place.

AnanHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew, Akan
  • Meaning:

    "cloud; fourth-born child"
  • Description:

    Little-known name from the Old Testament.