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120 African Last Names Meaning And History

African names meaning
African family

The power and efficacy an African name conveys is the strength of African last names.  African last names can also be referred to as African surnames.

Your last name can/might be the name of your immediate father but in Africa, it is unique. Usually, our last names are from our paternal grandfather/great grandfather. It is like an ancestry name. A name transmitting from one generation to the other.

Reasons For Name Change

Do you know that some American families still practice this ancestry name pattern?  The Bush family, Clinton, and Rockefeller are a few examples of families who practise this tradition.

Now and then, we have both our father and grandfather’s names. Other times, just the name of grandpa. Recently, the trend of African last names from grandfathers/ancestors is gradually fading.

What is the reason for this decline? Modern kids feel it is preferable to answer the African last name of their father. Grandpa is old and so is his name. Several parents also contribute to this ideology. Another reason can also be the meaning of the surname like in my case.

Root Of African Names


Last names meaning
Tribal women

While there are diverse African names, the root and meaning can be traced to the county or tribe. In other words, my country does not give an in-depth meaning of my last name.

There are various tribes in African countries and each tribe has an African name synonymous with them. So a better understanding of African names or African last names will mean having fair knowledge of the tribe.

Are you here to find the history of African names? Have a view of African last name or just trying to explore beautiful black female and male names, welcome.

A fair understanding of the countries in Africa will give you a foundation for the history of African last names.


Names of African countries

African countries name
Map of Africa


What do you think is Africa original name? According to Dr Cheikh Anah Diop of Kemetic history of Africa, “The ancient name of Africa was Alkebulan.  Alkebu-lan meaning “mother of mankind” or “garden of Eden”. Is this not spectacular? What more can you ask for of a name.


No Country Motto Population Sub States
1 Algeria By the people and for the people 43,851,044 Northern Africa
2 Angola Strength united is stronger 32,866,272 Middle Africa
3 Botswana Rain 2,351,627 Southern Africa
4 Burundi Unity, Work, Progress 11,890,784 Eastern Africa  
5 Benin Fellowship,  Justice, Labour 12,123,200 Western Africa  
6 Burkina Faso Unity, Progress, Justice 20,903,273 Western Africa  
7 Cameroon Peace, Work, Fatherland 26,545,863 Middle Africa  
8 Côte d’Ivoire Union, Discipline, Travail 26,378,274 Western Africa  
9 Chad Unity, Work, Progress 16,425,864 Middle Africa  
10 Congo Unity, Work, Progress 5,518,087 Middle Africa  
11 Central African Republic Unity, Dignity, Work 4,829,767 Middle Africa
12 Comoros Unity, Solidarity, Development 869,601 Eastern Africa
13 Cabo Verde   555,987 Western Africa
14 Djibouti Unity, Equality, Peace 988,000 Eastern Africa
15 DR Congo Justice, Peace, Work 89,561,403 Middle Africa
16 Ethiopia Ethiopia holds up her hands unto God 114,963,588 Eastern Africa
17 Egypt   ———————- 102,334,404 Northern Africa
18 Eritrea State of Eritrea 3,546,421 Eastern Africa  
19 Equatorial Guinea   Unity, Peace, Justice 1,402,985 Middle Africa
20 Eswatini     1,160,164 Southern Africa
21 Ghana   Freedom and Justice 31,072,940 Western Africa
22 Guinea Work, Justice, Solidarity 13,132,795 Western Africa  
23 Gambia Progress, Peace, Prosperity 2,416,668 Western Africa
24 Gabon Union, Travail, Justice 2,225,734 Middle Africa  
25 Guinea Bissau   Unity, Struggle, Progress 1,968,001 Western Africa
26 Kenya   All pull together 53,771,296 Eastern Africa
27 Lesotho Peace, Rain, Prosperity 2,142,249 Southern Africa  
28 Liberia The love of liberty brought us here 5,057,681 Western Africa  
29 Libya   ———————— 6,871,292 Northern Africa
30 Morocco   God, the country, the king 36,910,560 Northern Africa
31 Mozambique   Republic of Mozambique 31,255,435 Eastern Africa
32 Madagascar   Love, Ancestral-land, Progress 27,691,018 Eastern Africa
33 Mali   One people, one goal, one faith 20,250,833 Western Africa
34 Malawi   Unity and Freedom 19,129,952 Eastern Africa
35 Mauritania   Honour, Fraternity, Justice 4,649,658 Western Africa
36 Mauritius   Star and key of the Indian Ocean 1,271,768 Eastern Africa
37 Namibia   Unity, Liberty, Justice 2,540,905 Southern Africa
38 Nigeria   Unity and faith, peace and progress 206,139,589 Western Africa
39 Niger   Fraternity, Work, Progress 24,206,644 Western Africa
40 Rwanda   Unity, Work, Patriotism 12,952,218 Eastern Africa
41 Somalia   ———————– 15,893,222 Eastern Africa
42 Senegal   One people, one goal, one faith 16,743,927 Western Africa
43 Sudan   Victory is ours 43,849,260 Northern Africa
44 South Africa   Diverse, People, Unity 59,308,690 Southern Africa
45 South Sudan   Justice, Liberty, Prosperity 11,193,725 Eastern Africa
46 Sierra Leone   Unity, Freedom, Justice 7,976,983 Western Africa
47 Sao Tome & Principe Unity, Discipline, Work 219,159 Middle Africa
48 Seychelles   The end crowns the work 98,347 Eastern Africa
49 Togo   Work, Liberty, Homeland 8,278,724 Western Africa
50 Tunisia   Freedom, Dignity, Order and Justice 11,818,619 Northern Africa
51 Tanzania   Freedom and Unity 59,734,218 Southern Africa
52 Uganda   For God and My Country 45,741,007 Eastern Africa
53 Zimbabwe   Unity, Freedom, Work 14,862,924 Eastern Africa
54 Zambia   One Zambia, One Nation 18,383,955 Eastern Africa
African countries



History of Last Names

Like I said earlier in my opening dialogue, the origin of Africa last names dates back to our forefathers. It is not possible to see a traditional family bearing the name of the immediate father.  I have also mentioned earlier that, there are some reasons why children these days do not recognize the name of their ancestors. 

However, I am not going to elaborate on that reason.  I will deliberate more on the motive. The motive why children change from their ancestry name to their immediate father’s name. Based on meaning.

In Africa, names are special information about a family and their rituals. An African name explains and expresses a lot about a family. In those days, when a man finds a woman to settle down with, his family will not ask him about the name of the girl. 

Rather, he will be asked what family she comes from. This also happens in the girl’s family.

The Significance Of Last Names

At the mention of a family name, the elders in the family can tell immediately if the family of the boy or girl is a reputable one. If heredity diseases or misfortune are happening in the family, you will be advised not to marry from such a family. If you insist on marrying from there, then be ready to stomach the consequences when the time arises.

It will shock you to know that 90% of the time, they are right. We, Africans, believe that a reputable family with respect and dignity, we raise kids of like manners. Nevertheless, we do not see much of these practices in modern times.

True life story

My ancestry name is Oja-li-ke-le (don’t border about the pronunciation- It took me a while to master it) from the Uvwie tribe, Delta State Nigeria.  Ojalikele means am counting my suffering literally. Please who wants to bear that kind of surname? I don’t!

Ojalikele is an industrious man. Yet, with his hard work and determination; he had no luck with wealth.  My grandpa suffered the same faith but to change the linage of the name, he named my father Dolor; meaning money.

I must confess the name was a game-changer in my family. Dad was a wealthy man – but it was not an easy journey. During my primary days in school, my African last name was Ojalikele. 

Meaning of my Surname

Later on, when I and my brothers found out about the meaning of the name, we asked dad if we could change it. We know the impact of names on personality; we are not ready to take the risk.

Dad agreed to the changing of the name and so, during our secondary days in school, our African last name was Dolor. This is the name of the younger generation of the  Ojalikele family answer to date.

Another Story

Gospel Mavutula from Malawi said the name given to him from birth, means unhappiness.  Gospel did something about his negative African name by changing it to something nice.

He said his parents were having challenges at home and work when he was born.  In African naming culture, the process of childbirth is a determinate of a baby’s name.

Mavutula knows how much influence his birth name had on him. So he avoided it entirely when naming his kids.

Popular African American Last Name

African American names
Michael Obama


Do you know how popular African American last name originates? According to research, African American name coin from African slaves who were brought to Europe.

 Slave owners of black Africans, rename them when they arrived. Without a care about tribe or ethnicity, the slaves were given European names to fit the society.

On the surface level, it looks and feels as if the names were exceptional.  It is actually until you know the tag identified with the black surnames. The goal of the name is to establish a difference between the whites and the blacks. In other words, a slave or a free slave is identified by this name.

Over 300,000 years, these African American last names thrive within the black community. Both those who were born during the slave trade era and after answered these names.  Nevertheless, during the 20th century, the narrative took a different turn.  African American blacks created black surnames that will stand out as unique.

African American Last Name List

  1. Washington
  2. Williams
  3. Wright
  4. Turner
  5. Thomas
  6. Thompson
  7.  Taylor
  8. Smith
  9. Scott
  10. Robinson
  11. Johnson
  12. Moore
  13. Mitchell
  14. Miller
  15. Martin
  16. Lewis
  17. Lee
  18. King
  19. Jones
  20. Jackson
  21. Harris
  22. Hill
  23. Hall
  24. Green
  25. Davis
  26. Carter
  27. Clark
  28. Brown
  29. Anderson
  30. Allen                             

French African Names

French African names
Senegalese girl


French African names are mostly answered by Africans who live in French-speaking countries in Africa. African countries like Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, have French as their first or second language. To not miss out on the originality of African last names, the people combined African and French names.  Here is a list of some names.

Name                           Gender

1.  Ancille                      Female

2. Adame                       Male

3. Arcade                       Unisex

4. Aufrey                       Male

5. Armella                     Female
6. Belvina                      Female

7. Blaisie                        Female

8. Clotaire                     Male

9. Cornelle                    Unisex

10. Cyrique                    Male

11. Dative                      Female

12. Desange                  Unisex

13. Elisee                       Unisex

14. Elodine                    Female

15. Evodie                     Female

16. Fallou                      Male

17. Falina                     Female

18. Fleure                     Female

19. Gelie                        Female

20. Gaudens                 Male

21. Gamalielle              Female

22. Ivoire                       Female

23. Janviere                  Unisex

24. Jireh                        Unisex

25. Jospin                      Male

26. Joyeuse                   Female

27. Lionelle                  Female

28. Manette                  Female

29. Merci                       Unisex

30. Pacome                   Male

African Women Names

African women names
African women


In no particular order, these names are from different ethnic groups in Africa. They are beautiful African names for black baby girls. Pick the one that best defines your bond with your baby girl.

Name                         Meaning

1.Esere                         Gift

2.Onome                This is my own

3.Ejiro                          Praise

4.Ediri                       Patience

5.Iso                                Star

6.Fejiro             God is worthy to be praise

7.Aghogho                       Happiness

8.Omogene Jakpo         A child sent by God

9. Ogene Rukeme            God did it for me

10.Ogene Nyerovwo       God I praise you

11.Onorode              Who knows tomorrow

12.Arere                                   Profit

13.Nuduka                       Life is the utmost

14. Ashienedu                      God directs

15.Ada                             First female child

16.Nwakama                     A child is good

17. Bolanle        One who discovers wealth

18.Abeje                We request for this child

19.Abiba           The return of grandmother after the  death

20.Abena                         Tuesday

21.Abimbola              Born to be wealthy

22.Adamma                   A child of beauty

23.Aissa                               Thankful

24.Abeba                        Giver of light

25.Adana                       Father’s daughter

26.Aisha                                     Life

27.Amara                               Kindness

28.Chidima                        God is worthy

29.Cleopatra                 Beauty of the father

30.Gugulethu                          Treasure

African Male Names

African male names
African male


The names below are synonymous with African males. A few of the names can also be given to females but the ratio is 5:1. Also, the names are from different countries and tribes in Africa.

       Name                          Meaning

  1. Efe                                Wealth
  2. Obinna                     My father’s heart
  3. Ola                                   Wealth
  4. Aadan                               Adam
  5. Amari   One who has great strength
  6. Abidemi    Born when father is away
  7. Bamidele          Come home with me
  8. Chima                    Only God knows
  9. Chiumbo                       Little one
  10. Nwaose                      A child of God
  11. Olise                                   God
  12. Diallo                                Brave
  13. Femi                               Love me
  14. Faraji                               Stars
  15. Ike                            God will laugh
  16. Idir                                    Alive
  17. Imamu                     Mystical leader
  18. Jabari                    One who is fearless
  19. Kamari                             Moon
  20. Kofi                                    Friday
  21. Kwame                           Saturday
  22. Omari                                 Chief
  23. Yared                               To go down
  24. Yusuf                            God multiplies
  25. Zaire                                River
  26. Abdalla                    Servant of God
  27. Abeeku                 One who is born on Wednesday
  28. Ahmed                         One who is praiseworthy
  29. Aiyetoro                Harmony on earth
  30. Ogene Tega          God is powerful

African Names Meaning Lion


African names meaning lion

In Africa, a lion is a special character in folktales. The lion is usually the king and in modern-day, names meaning lion is also given to babies. Furthermore, the characteristics of lions are so fascinating. This is why Africans give names meaning lion. Kings are seen as lions too. Let’s explore.

  • Dhaigham
  • Ghadhanfar
  • Kosey
  • Cakusola
  • Hafsa
  • Jala
  • Nala
  • Tiaret
  • Simba

African last names are names from our paternal grandfather/ great grandfather. It is an ancestry name that passes from one generation to the other. However, recently the African naming culture is changing.

In other words, kids now prefer to answer the names of their fathers. Moreover, African last name is deeply rooted in the culture of the community.

Names are not given based on how it sounds, but what transpires between and after delivery.

Last names are also given based on the characteristics of a thing. For example, names meaning lion are created on the traits of a lion.

Every African women name and African American name is a tale. French African names and African male names always have a story.  Listen to the story and you will appreciate the essence of the name.

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