Your African Name – Coming, Ready or Not

Parents or other adults determine your name, sometimes before you’re even born. You can change it if you like. Your African name is different. It’s inspired by you, yet you have no power over it.

Family or Surname

Your family or surname links you to your relatives (biological or adopted). It’s predetermined. It links you to your clan or family group, and it’s useful.

  • It gives you an idea of where you come from
  • Implies who you might be related to
  • Tells others who is responsible for you until you start work
  • Reminds you who about those you’re responsible for when you start earning
  • Determines who you love or loathe as you grow through your life phases
  • Legal / commercial stuff


First or Christian Name(s)

The name(s) more personal to you. They are also predetermined. They’re handy for

  • Knowing when someone’s talking to you
  • Paying homage to someone who your namegivers love, fear or respect
  • Identifying you within your clan or family group
  • Providing a ritual for parents
  • Driving a multi-billion market sector in personalised goods
  • Legal / commercial stuff



Maybe non African people can jump – But they’re famously inept at name giving. European nicknames / pet names are often based on

  • Abbreviation
  • Physical appearance
  • Practicality. There are 5 girls called Elizabeth in the same family or class.
  • Affinity. Love – Angel, Darling, Sweetheart
  • Disdain. I won’t elaborate. This section sometimes displays a dash of creativity


African Names

If you lived in Africa, you have an African name. You may not know it, but it knows you.

If you have an African friend, family member or colleague who thinks about you – It is likely that you have an African name. It’s the name that enters their mind when they picture your face.

Your African Name

Your African name is different from any other name you have ever used. You don’t control it. Your loved ones don’t influence it. It is not predetermined. You cannot change it, nor add to it nor tweak it. It might be a word, phrase or composite word. Some are phonetic, some cannot be written and have no spelling.

Your African name might be a sound or a fabricated word based on multiple dialects.

Your African name is earned, it may evolve – It always describes you perfectly. It’s used to identify you. In fact, it tells everything there is to know about you – Well, everything that matters, anyway.

That name that you reserve for just one person in this world is their African name. Do you know yours?

Vicki knows hers. She had it tattooed on her hand.

Jeff just knows everything, I call him mGuru

Bones the Dog is naughty. His name is Matata – He is troubled, prone to causing problems & he takes (steals) things

Matata African name