African Baby Names and Meanings

Contributor: Michele Meleen
woman kissing her baby

When a baby is born in Africa, large celebrations and festivities follow the birth. A baby naming ceremony is a common ritual to welcome the newborn into the community. The pronunciation of an African name is of utmost importance as even one misplaced syllable will greatly affect its meaning. An incorrect inflection can be considered an instant insult. Therefore, the following list of African baby names includes phonic spellings in parentheses.

African Baby Boy Names

In African cultures, a baby's name is the most highly valuable possession as it can survive even death. It is believed that the name given to a child can influence both the child and the family.

African Boy Names A through H

If you are looking for black baby names for boys at the beginning of the alphabet, check out this sample list:

Abayomi (AH-BAH-YOH-MI) - Born to bring me joy in Yoruba Nigerian

Abdalla (AB-DAUL-LAH) - Servant of God in Swahili

Abdu (AB-DOO) - Worshiper of God

Abubakar (AH-BOO-BAH-CAR) - Father-in-law of Prophet Muhammed in West African

Abioye (AH-BE-OH-YAY) - Son of royalty; African surname

Addae (AH-DAH-EH) - Morning sun

Addo (AED-OW) - King of the road in Ghana

Adika (AH-DEE-KAH) - The first child of a second husband

Adom (AH-DOHM) - God's blessing

Ahmed (AH-MUH-D)- Praiseworthy

Akiki (AH-KEE-EE-KEE) - Friend

Akua (AH-KOO-AH) - Born on a Thursday; African surname

Amare- (UH-MAH-REH)- Possess great strength

Anane (AH-HAH-NEH) - Fourth son

Aswald -(AHS-WALD) - Black

Atu (AH-TOO) - Born on Saturday

Bandile (BAND-EEL) The family is growing; South African name

Barack (BAA-R-AA-K) - Blessed

Bem (BEHM) - Peace

baby face

Bomani (B-OH-MAH-NEE) - Great warrior

Chiamaka (CHEE-AM-ACK-AH) - God is splendid

Chikae (CHE-KAY) - God's power; West African name

Chionesu (CHEH-NEH-SOO) - Guiding light

Dakarai (DAH-KAH-RAH-EE) - Rejoice; South African Shona name

Enam (EH-NAHM) - God's gift

Enzokuhle (ENZO-COOL) - Do well, do good; unisex long name and most popular for boys and girls in South Africa

Fenyang (FEHN-YANG) - Conqueror

Gamba (GAM-BAH) - Warrior

Gowon (GO-WAHN) - Rainmaker

Haji (HAH-JEE) - Born during the hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca

Hansani (HAH-SAH-NEE) - Handsome

Hondo (HAH-N-DOH) - Warrior

Little Gentleman Names I through O

Choose a meaningful baby boy name:

Ishaq (ESS-HAHK) - Laughter

Issa (EE-SAH) - God is salvation

Jabari (JAH-BAH-REE) - Brave; African surname

Jafari (JAH-FAH-REE) - Stream

Jaja (JAH-JAH) - Honored

Jengo (JEHN-GOO) - Building in Swahili

Jojo (JO-JO) - Born on Monday

Kafele (KAH-FEH-LEH) - Worth dying for

Kapeni (KAH-PEH-NEE) - Knife

Kellan (KEH-L-EH-N) - Powerful

Kgosi (KHO-SEE) - King in Tswana

Khalid (KHAH-LEED) - Eternal

Kizza (KEEZ-SAH) - Born after twins

Kontar (KOHN-TAR) - Only child

Kofi (K-OH-FEE)- Born on a Friday in West African

Kufuo (KOO-FOO-O) - Father shared the pains of birth

Kwasi (KWAH-SEE) - Born on Sunday in West African

Lethabo (LE-TA-BO) - Happiness; unisex name and second most popular name for boys in South Africa

Lateef (LAH-TEFF) - Gentle and kind

Madu (MAH-DOO) - People

Mandala (MAHN-DAH-LAH) - Spectacles

Mandlenkosi(MAHN-DLEN-KOH-SEE) - Strong king/chief long name in Zulu and Ndebele

Mashama (MAH-SHAM-BAH) - Leaves

Mazi (MAH-ZEE) - Sir

Mosi (MO-SEE) - First-born in Swahili

Muhammadu (MOO-HAH-MAHD-OO) - Praiseworthy in West African

Mwai (MWAH-EE) - Good fortune

Nassor (NAH-SOR) - Victorious

Ndulu (N-DOO-LOO) - Dove

Njau (N-JOW) - Young bull

Nkosana (KOH-SAH-NAH) - Prince in Xhosa

Obayana (AH-BAH-YAH-NAH) - The kings warm by the fire

Obi (O-BEE) - Heart in Western African

Oladele (AH-LAH-DEH-LEH) - Honored at home

Olugbala (O-LOO-BAH-LAH) - God of the people

Omar (O-MAR) - Flourishing

Omari (OH-MAH-R-EE) - God the highest

Othenio (O-THEE-NEE-O) - Born at night Paki (PAH-KEE) - Witness

Little Prince Names R through Z

dad with newborn

Find a beautiful name from a range of culture and tribes:

Rafiki (RAH-FEE-KEE) - Companion

Rudo (ROO-DOH) - Love in South African

Sadiki (SAH-DEE-KEE) - Faithful

Salehe (SAH-LEH-HEE) - Good

Salim (SAH-LEEM) - Safe and secure

Sefu (SEH-FOO) - Sword in Swahili

Sekani (SEH-KAH-NEE) - Laugh in Tumbuka

Shaka (SHA-KAH) The name of the Zulu tribal leader sometimes compared to Attila the Hun

Selassie (SUH-LASS-SEE) - One that refers to a trinity

Simba (SEEM-BAH) - Lion in South African

Tahir (TAH-HEER) - Chaste

Taye (TAI) - He who has been seen

Taj (T-AH-J) - Exalted

Talib (TAH-LIB) - Seeker of knowledge

Thadiwe (TAN-DI-WAY) - Beloved

Themba (TEHM-BAH) - Hope in South African

Uchechi (OO-CHAY-CHEE) - God's will

Umi (U-MM-EE) - Life

Unika (OO-NEE-KAH) - To shine

Useni (UW-SEN-EE)- Tell me

Walid (WAH-LEED) - Newborn

Wambua (WAHM-BOO-AH) - Born during the rainy season

Yafeu (YAH-FEH-O) - Bold

Yonas (YOO-N-AS) - Dove

Zahur (ZAH-HOOR) - Flower

Zane (Z-AI-N) - Well-born, noble

Zikomo (ZEE-KO-MO) - Thank you in South African

Ziyad (ZEE-YAAD) - To become greater

Zuberi (ZOO-BEH-REE) - Strong in Swahili

African Baby Girl Names

Names in African cultures reflect the person's hopes, dreams and aspirations. Children's names may also provide insight into important cultural or socio-political events at the time of their birth.

Sweet Baby Girl Names A through H

Find an inspirational name below:

Aba (AH-BAH) - Born on Thursday

Abagbe (AH-BAH-BEH) - Child that was wished for

Abayomi (AH-BAH-YO-ME) - She brings joy

Abena (AH-BEH-NAH) - Born on Tuesday in West African

Abeni (AH-BEH-NEE)-Girl prayed for in West African

Abrihet (AH-BREE-HET) Shines with light

Ada (AH-DAH) - First-born female

Adesina (AH-DAY-SEE-NAH) - This child opens the way for more children

Adaeze (UH-DAY-ZAY) - King's daughter in Western African

Afiya (AH-FEE-YAH) - Health in West African

Aisha (AH-EE-SHAH) - Life

Akua (AH-KOO-AH) - Born on Wednesday

Alake (AH-LAH-KEH) - One to fuss over

Alkebulan (Al-KEH-BOO-LAN) - Mother of Mankind; said to be the oldest name for Africa from indigenous African origins

Aluna (AH-LOO-NAH) - Come here

Ama (AH-MA) - Born on Saturday in West African

Amahle (Ah-MAH-SHE) - The beautiful one in Zulu; third most popular girls name in South Africa

Amina (UH-MEE-NUH) - Trustworthy

Anika (AH-NEE-KAH) - Sweet-faced

Anuli (AH-NOO-LEE) - Joyous in West African

Asha (AH-SH-AH) - Lively, woman, life in Swahili

Asya (AHS-YAH) - Born at a time of grief

Ayana (AY-YA-NA) - Pretty Flower

Aziza (AH-ZEE-ZAH) - Precious

Bahati (BAH-HAH-TEE) - Fortunate

Bayo (BAH-YO) - Great joy a child brings to a family

Bolanile (BO-LAH-NEE-LAH) - Our treasure in West African

Chipo (CHEE-PO) - Gift in South African; also common African surname

Chuki (CHOO-KEE) - Born during a time of hatred

Dada (DAH-DAH) - Child born with curly hair in West African

Dalili (DAH-LEE-LEE) - Sign or omen

Ebun (EH-BOON) - Gift

Efia (EH-FEE-AH) - Born on a Friday

Faizah (FAH-EE-ZAH) - Winner

Femi (FEH-MEE) - Love me

Folayan (FAW-LAH-YAHN) - Walking proud

Fujo (FOO-JO) - Born after the parents have separated

Goitsemedime (COAT-SAY-MO-DEE-MEH) - God knows; long African name

Habiba (HAH-BE-BAH) - Sweetheart

Halima (HAH-LEE-MAH) - Kind and patient, gentle

Hasana (HAH-SAH-NAH) - First-born twin

Hawa (HAH-WAH) - Longing

Little Princess Names I Through O

laughing baby girl

Sweet but strong baby girl names include:

Ikuseghan (EE-KOO-SHE-HAN) - Peace is better than war; long African name

Imani (E-MAN-E) - Faith in Swahili

Jaha (JAH-HA) - Dignity

Jamila (JAH-ME-LAH) - Elegant

Kali (KAI-LEE) -Energetic

Kamaria (KAH-MAH-REE-AH) - Like the moon in Swahili

Keisha (KEE-SHAH) - Favorite

Khadija (KAH-DEE-JAH) - Born premature (Muhammad's wife)

Kibibi (KEE-BE-BE) - Little lady

Koko (KO-KO) - Born second

Leila (LAH-EE-LAH) - Dark beauty

Linda (LEEN-DAH) - Wait

Lulu (LOO-LOO) - A pearl

Malaika (MAH-LAH-EE-KAH) - Angel

Mandisa (MAN-DEE-SAH) - Sweet

Mawiyah (MAH-WEE-YAH) - The essence of life

Melokuhle (MEH-LO-COOL) - Stand for what is right; unisex name and second most popular girl name in South Africa

Mesi (MEH-SEE) - Water

Muteteli (MOO-TAY-TAH-LEE) - Dainty

Nabelung (NAH-BEH-LUNG) - Beautiful one

Naeemah (NAH-EE-MAH) - Benevolent and contented

Nailah (NY-EE-LA) - Successful

Naki (NAH-KEE) - First-born girl

Neema (NEH-EH-MAH) - Born during good times

Nia (NEE-AH) - Purpose in Swahili

Nkosazana (N-KO-SAH-ZAH-NAH) - Princess in South African

Nombeko (NOM-BEH-KO) - Respect

Nomusa (NO-MOO-SAH) - Compassionate in South African

Ode (O-DEH) - Born along the road

Omolara (O-MO-LAH-RAH) - Born at the right time in West African

Oni (O-NEE) - Desired in West African

Angelic Names P through Z

You may find a beautiful and unique name from the list below:

Panya (PAHN-YAH) - Mouse

Rabiah (RAH-BE-AH) - Spring

Ramla (RAHM-LAH) - Predictor of the future

Rukiya (ROO-KEE-YAH) - Ascend or rise up

Salihah (SAH-LEE-HAH) - Virtuous or correct

Sanaa (SAH-NAA)-Work of beauty in Swahili

Sanura (SAH-NOO-RAH) - Kitten-like

Sekai (SAY-KAH-EE) - Be humorous in Shona

Sisi (SEE-SEE) - Born on a Sunday

Suma (SOO-MAH) - Ask

Tale (TAH-LEH) - Green

Teleza (TAH-LEH-ZAH) - Slippery

Thema (TAY-MAH) - Queen Ulu (OO-LOO), second-born female in West African

Umm (OOM) - Mother

Urbi (OOR-BE) - Princess

Urenna (OO-REN-NAH) - Father's pride

Waseme (WAH-SEH-MEH) - Let them talk

Yamina (YAH-ME-NAH) - Of moral excellence

Ye (YEH-EH) - Elder of twins

Zahra (ZAH-RAH) - Flower

Zalika (ZAH-LEE-KAH) - Well-born

Zola (ZOH-LUH) -Peaceful

Zuri (ZUH-OO-REE) Beautiful in Swahili

Diversity of Names

Understanding the meaning of a name may help with your selection. Whether you choose a popular name or one that has special meaning within your family, selecting an African name for your child provides the opportunity to choose a name with great cultural significance.

African Baby Names and Meanings