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The Impact Of Name And Personality: African View

Our name and personality play a huge role in our life. Do you believe this? Have you ever wondered if your name is the perfect match for you? Or why did your parents choose this name from all the names in the world? An African proverb says:

One’s name remains above the grave.

Meaning: Even in death, a man’s name lives on. This is the power of a name.

Effects of Names on a child
Black baby girl

The name, they say, is a powerful tool. A tool that describes a person’s personality in just a word. You can decide to make a legacy from your name or just walk the face of the earth and don’t care about a thing.

Hello friends, welcome once again to another journey with me. A moment where we discuss African cultures and their diversities. Today, we will take a tour of the name and personalities of the sons and daughters in African land. We would uncover if their names and personality go hand in hand.

Factors That Influence A Name

  1. Culture

The name and personality of an individual come from a culture, whether Africa or Europe. The culture of our parents has a greater influence on the name they will choose for us. In some cultures like Africa, naming a child is in several ways, some of which are:


A child’s name is given through this process when there is a significant event surrounding the period of birth. These events can be what the mother was passing through, events in the extended family, happenings in the society, a tragedy, you name it. We can use anything that is of uttermost importance during birth as a child’s name.

Twin birth: the Yoruba people from western Nigeria have an ordained name for twin children. They call the eldest of the twin Taiwo while the junior is called Kehinde. This does not mean the kids will not bear other names. However, immediately after birth, these are the names they are called.

 In Uganda, the first of a twin male is called Kakuru or Wasswa while the yonder twin is called Kato. Also in Kenya, the first of twins is called Kalenjins while we call the other Towett.

Days of the Week: in some parts of Ghana, West Africa, a child’s name is given based on the day of the week he was born. If you are born on Monday, you will be called Kojo as a male and as a female Adwoa. For children born on Tuesdays, the females are called Abena while the males are Kwabena. Kwaku is for male children born on Wednesday and Ekua for females. The list of the names goes on until Sunday.

2. Believes

Each African country has its religion and practice–parents may choose to give their babies any of the religious names they dime fit. In Nigeria, for example, we have three types of religion: Christianity, Islam and African traditional religion (ATR). Each of the followers of these religions chooses a name based on the charterers and traits of the individual in the doctrine. This reason forms a basis for why certain names are more popular than others. 

Names like David, Ruth, Joshua, Daniel, Gideon, and Rebecca are gotten from the bible. Some Africans do not care where the names originate from or what it means. What they do care about is the personality of the carriers of the name. We believe the name and personality the individuals carry will influence the child.

3. Society

It is okay for an African mother living in Africa to give her child an African name. Nevertheless, will an African mother living in a white community feel comfortable naming her child an African name?

The society in which she could find herself plays a strong determinant in the name of her kids. She would not want to pick an African name for her child that may cause people to stare or have a hard time pronouncing the name.

Even if she loves her culture/root, the place of resident holds a powerful advantage over her decision.

For example, the research in America based on September 11,  2001, during the bomb blast attack. It suggested that individuals who summited resumes for interviews bearing a name that sounds like Arabic, do not get a chance.  You can see from this example that, the society in question does not favour Arabic names. Imagine if the reverse was the case.

Importance Of Names

Impact of name on a baby
Beautiful black baby
Different African Names

A school of thought says we partly built our personality on the way others see us. I can confidently say that the moment we meet another fellow, and introduce ourselves, they register our name in their minds.

Before the discussion begins, the individual tries to analyze us. First, he/she tries to figure out which culture/ country bears a name like that. If it is an unfamiliar name, it might force the individual to ask us the origin.

How you are seen onwards depends on the mindset of the individual. They might think your name sound interesting or awkward. The notion about your name then establishes a platform for future connections. But where is the place of a name in a man’s life? Does it make him prosperous? Or hinder his progress.

Statistics On Names And Personality

Do name and personality go together? Does it magnify our abilities? Or subject us. What is so special about our names?

According to research, names and personality go together. It is believed that your name is the foundation of your personality. You do not have outright control over your name as a baby but you own the right to build your personality. 

You can decide to change your name if you feel it does not enhance your personality or you can continue with it if it opens doors for you.

African Believes About Name And Personality

Africans so much believe in the efficacy of a name. I could remember vividly when Obama became president; several parents in Kenya name their sons Obama. 

Africans acknowledgement in the spirit of names, makes a parent give a name that will benefit a child spiritually. For example, Onome means this is my own in Uhrobo Delta State Nigeria (i believe you have an idea on what it means to be mock for not giving birth for some years after marriage?).

Do not think a mother in Africa will just give a name because it is sweet. No! It always has a meaning and a story.

From the moment of conception, a mother thinks of the name she will give her little bundle of joy. She dreams and talks about it until the day of arrival.

It can be a tedious process for some parents, but for others, it is just a giveaway. It comes naturally to some of us like it was nothing. The time put into these names can be fulfilling or disappointing.

My Search For A Name

Personality and names relationship
Expecting Mother

I could remember when I and my hubby were imagining a name for our second child. Up until the day of delivery, he could not come with one that soothes his heart.

Giving my child the best name that expresses my joy, it’s a great deal for me. In the middle of the night, one day, it revealed itself. It came from the joys within and the journey so far through the pregnancy.

I wanted a name that interprets the meaning of the fresh addition to my family and how his coming was a blessing.

It is a fact that we give names based on the circumstances of a child’s birth. If you want to know more about this culture, check out African naming culture.

Africans are a religious set of people – everything we do involves the supernatural.  All things have meanings.  Nothing is taken on a surface level. There are always hidden stories behind every name. It is who we are.

 Children sometimes cannot comprehend the meaning of the names they are given. If we must know, we go deep in finding the root of the name.

A Short Story About The Name And Personality Of A Boy

One certain day in the village, a pregnant lady was going to the farm when she unconsciously passed through a shrine. The shrine was located deep in the forest and the name of the god worship in the shrine is called Ani.  

I can’t tell what drove her to ask for protection for her child from the gods, but she did. She told god that he should protect her son, and help him graduate from school.

She then made a vow that if he did, she will come back and thank him with a live cock.

Was this woman wrong in asking for goodwill for her son? No! But the problem comes if she fails to keep her side of the bargain. In Africa, if you make a promise to the gods, please fulfil it because some of them do not forget. Also, after birth, she went further to name the child, ANI.

Ani is a very powerful god and is feared by all who lives in the town. Because the god’s name was given to the child, he was given some unexplained respect from the townspeople.

Did The Name Ani Affects The Child

 You might be wondering if Ani acts weird or look different from the rest of us. No, he is not. He is just as human as the rest of us.

He had his share of lives up and downs. He fell, and he picked up himself. He has dreams and he was determined to achieve them at all costs. His determination pushed him to that which he has accomplished today. It was not the name that was given to him that made him excel but his determination to succeed.

His choice was to be great and he is fulfilling that. Does he possess any traits from the gods? Huh! that’s a big question.

If I say yes, I will be lying because there are no physical traits that one can link to the gods. If I say no, I will be lying again because there might be a spiritual aspect that I do not know, or has not revealed itself yet.

A twist…

This same child was given a biblical name called Joseph and I believe we all know Joseph the dreamer. Like Joseph, this boy has the gift to interpret dreams. What a child!

Can you see where am coming from? Are you getting it? This is not a spiritual aspect anymore but one we can relate with. Joseph can pass as a name but not all Joseph interpret dreams. But what made this particular child unique? That is a question am yet to find an answer for.

Furthermore, children who are given the names of gods often give tales about spiritual encounters with the spirit being. The validity of these tales however is unknown.

Personal Opinion On Name And Personality

To summarise this, whether in Africa or not, parents should have the full meaning and understanding of the name they give to their little kings and queens.

It will help form a basis as to the reason why the name was given.  It does not matter if the name is popular or not. What counts is the reason, the belief system and society. All these factors should be conceded when choosing a name for a kid.

Also, times are changing. Our kid’s care about their identity. So as parents we must try to give them a befitting name. Furthermore, even if names have a significant effect on an individual, the responsibility to be great rests on one’s shoulders. We can challenge the status quo of a name or flow with it.


In conclusion, name and personality have a huge impact on the life of kids. While various cultures have distinctive ways of choosing a name for a child, parents should consider the child when picking such a name.

A name is the first information we present to an individual at first sight. This knowledge can open a future business or hinder progress. Negative names also have a way of rubbing off on the personalities of people so for common ground, as a parent / future parent, do your research.

We know the name is the foundation on which we build our personality but we should not stop growing/improving on ourselves just because of a certain name. The choice to grow depends on you.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. mitchteemley

    I enjoyed reading about African name traditions!

    1. The blacks

      Thanks, friend am glad you like it.

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