120 Most Popular African Last Names Or Surnames

Africa is the land of abundant natural resources and cultural diversity. It is home to many ethnic groups and tribes. If you are looking for African surnames for your kid, you are at the right place. The continent is home to various cultures and peoples. From the first tribes on the earth to modern-day societies, African names represent ancestral meanings. The native African surnames and last names are unique, reflective, and meaningful. They are rich in culture and have versatile meanings and pronunciations. Dive into this post for some amazing and interesting African surnames.

In This Article

Most Popular African Last Names Or Surnames

1. Abara:

Originating from the Igbo group of West Africa, Abara means ‘spirit’.

2. Abebe

The genesis of this Ethiopian name is Amharic, and it means ‘flower’ or ‘blossom’.

3. Abimbola

A popular surname among the Yoruba people from different countries of West Africa, Abimbola means ‘born with wealth’.

4. Abiodun

Hailing from the ethnic group Yoruba, Abiodun is often used both as a surname and a first name. It means ‘one who is born during the festival or war’. It can be used for both boys and girls.

5. Abioye

A well-liked Yoruba male name, Abioye means ‘born into royalty’ or ‘the son of royalty’. It also functions both as the last name and a surname.

6. Acheampong

If you want your baby’s name to be promising, then, this is the perfect name to choose. The Ashanti or Asante people anticipate a good future for their children by giving the name Acheampong, which means ‘destined for greatness’.

7. Achebe

This last name originates from the Igbo group. Achebe is an invocation of a deity, which means ‘the Goddess protects’. One of the most famous people to have this name is Chinua Achebe, considered the most influential African writer who won the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.

8. Adebayo

Often spelled as Adébáyọ̀, this name is a very popular first name and last name among men in Nigeria and people who are of African descent across other continents. It means ‘he came in a joyful time’ or ‘the king/crown/royalty meets joy’ in Yoruba.

9. Adebisi

An optimistic surname and first name that hopes for prosperity, Adebisi means ‘the king/crown/royalty produced more’. It is a favored name for boys among people of Yoruba lineage.

10. Adebowale

Another surname of Yoruba origin, Adebowale means ‘return of the crown’. It is suitable for both boys and girls.

11. Adeleke

Stemming from the Yoruba group, Adeleke means ‘the king/crown/royalty triumphed’. It is generally considered a boy name.

12. Adegoke

It is both a surname and given name of Yoruba origin, which means ‘the crown gained advancement’. It is suitable for boys.

13. Adekunle

An appreciative masculine name that embraces a new arrival with positivity, it means ‘the king/crown/royalty filled the house’. Similar to the name Adewole, which means ‘the king/crown has entered the house’, it has its origin from the Yoruba groups.

14. Adelakun

Sometimes used as a first name, this surname means ‘the king/crown/royalty opens the belly/ womb’. It is usually considered to be suitable for boys.

15. Ademola:

A common last name for boys among the Yoruba people, Ademola means ‘the king/crown/royalty along with wealth’.

16. Adesina

Popular among the female populace of Nigeria, it is an inspirational name which means ‘she opens the way’. It implies that a baby will be the first of many children for couples who have had difficulty in conceiving.

17. Adesiyan

Of Yoruba origin, the name means ‘the crown is good’.

18. Adeyemi

Generally given to boys, it means ‘the king/crown/royalty befits me’ or ‘worthy of the crown’.

19. Adisa

This Yoruba name means ‘the lucid one’ or ‘one who is clear’. It is a common unisex name.

20. Afia

The Akan name is widely used among the girls. It means ‘born on a Friday’. Other variants are Efua, Afua, and its male version is Kofi.

21. Afolabi

It means ‘born into wealth’ or ‘born into high status’.

22. Afolayan

A common nickname among the Yoruba people, Afolayan means ‘one who walks with confidence’ or ‘one who carries oneself like a wealthy person’.

23. Agrinya

Usually earned, Agrinya means ‘warrior’ in the Yala language.

24. Agu

It is a globally used Igbo surname which means ‘tiger’.

25. Aguta

In the Igbo language, Aguta means ‘to have plenty’ or ‘to have plenty/many’. It is primarily masculine in essence.

26. Agwuegbo

Another surname of Igbo origin, Agwuegbo means ‘the hardship is over’. It is mostly given to girls.

27. Akinjide

It means ‘the strong one has returned’. It is mostly given to boys due to its masculine connotation.

28. Akintola

It means ‘valor is the worth of wealth’ or ‘being brave’, usually given to boys.

29. Akinyemi

It means ‘destined to be a warrior’ in Yoruba language. This name is also masculine in essence.

30. Akpabio

Originating from the Ibibio group, Akpabio means ‘leader’, ‘noble’ or ‘prime’. It is usually given to boys.

31. Aku

Another Ibibio name, Aku means ‘wealth’.

protip_icon Did you know?
Akinyi is another popular last name in Africa that means ‘born in the morning.’

32. Alaneme

An Igbo surname, Ala means ‘land’, while neme means ‘doing something’. It can be translated into ‘the land is active’.

33. Alasa

Asa directly translates to ‘shield’, so Alasa means ‘lord or owner of the shield’. It is generally considered to be a masculine name.

34. Alioune

In the Wolof language, Alioune means ‘lofty’ or ‘sublime’. Other variants include Ali and Alioun. It is generally given to boys.

35. Amaechi

It means ‘who knows tomorrow’, an implication of the uncertainty and potential of the future, in Igbo language. It is suitable for boys.

36. Amaike

It means ‘the compound remains strong’ in Igbo language.

37. Ameziane

In the Tamazight language, Amaziane means ‘young’ or ‘little’. Meziane is a variation.

38. Anenih

Commonly used as a male name in Nigeria, Anenih means ‘God bearing name’. It is a commonly adored name for boys.

39. Aniefuna

In Igbo language, it means ‘my land is not lost’.

40. Anotidaishe

Among the Shona people of Zimbabwe, Anotidaishe means ‘the Lord loves us’.

41. Apara

It means ‘one who comes and goes’.

42. Asaju

Another expression of a characteristic trait, Asaju means ‘leader of warriors’, and is considered primarily male.

43. Awolowo

Having its origin in Yoruba, Awolowo means ‘the oracle has dignity’. This name is often given to boys.

44. Babangida

Among the Hausa tribes of Nigeria, Babangida means ‘the master of the house’. This name is primarily given to male members.

45. Bankole

Widely used among the Yoruba families, it means ‘help build our house’ or ‘build my house for me’. This name is mostly given to sons by the hopeful family.

46. Banmeke

Another name that implores to the child is Banmeke, which means ‘hold or sustain the rafter of the house with me’.

47. Biobaku

A hopeful name that reflects an uncertain situation is Biobaku, which means ‘if he or she does not die’. This name is suitable for both genders.

48. Buhle

Among the Xhosa and Ndebele groups of people, Buhle is a popular name which means ‘handsome’ or ‘beautiful’.

49. Chamapiwa

A name that reflects the gratitude of the family is Chamapiwa, meaning ‘that which you have been given’. It has its origin in the Shona groups of Zimbabwe.

50. Chidozie

In Igbo, this surname means ‘the Lord perfects all’ or ‘the God repairs.

51. Chidubem

A name that praises God is Chidubem, which means ‘God is my guide’ in Igbo.

52. Chuke

Its variant is Chike, which means ‘God’s power’.

53. Chukwunyelu

A name that acknowledges a divine concession is Chukwunyelu, which means ‘God gives’ in Igbo.

54. Dogo

It is one of the most widely used Hausa nicknames which means ‘little’.

55. Eesuola

It has its roots in Yoruba and it means ‘a lot of wealth’.

56. Egebe

Another nickname that also functions as a surname is Egebe, which means ‘kite’.

57. Eke

Eke means ‘superstructure of the roof’.

58. Ele

It is common both as a surname and a nickname. It means ‘a good runner’.

59. Emem

It means ‘peace’, suitable for a boy or a girl.

60. Etienam

Having its roots in Ibibio, the surname or nickname Etienam means ‘a doer of good’ or ‘benevolent’.

61. Falade

Several African names and surnames, when translated, often make full sentences. One of such names is a Yoruba surname Falade, which means ‘god of divination has intermingled with royalty’.

62. Folorunsho

One of the many surnames that appreciate the divine is a Yoruba name Folorunsho, which means ‘under God’s protection’.

63. Furaha

It originates from the Swahili culture and means ‘delight’ or ‘happiness’.

64. Gcobani

One of the most popular and optimistic Xhosa names is Gcobani, which means ‘be joyful’. This name is primarily masculine.

65. Gowon

Rooted in the Tiv language, Gowon means ‘the rainmaker’. This name is also predominantly given to boys.

66. Igbinedion

It has its origins in the Benin culture and means ‘seeking refuge in the elder’s protection’.

67. Igwe

Among the Igbo groups, Igwe means ‘heaven’, which is considered the highest realm of existence. It is also a display of honor for the eze or king in some parts of Igboland.

68. Ihejirika

It is an Igbo surname and nickname, which conveys pride. It means ‘the one that I have is greater’.

69. Jelani

One of the given and last names for boys among the Swahili tribes, Jelani means ‘mighty’ or ‘full of strength’.

protip_icon Did you know?
Chibuzo is an African last name that means ‘God give me directions’.

70. Kanye

Popularised by celebrity rapper Kanye West, the Igbo name Kanye means ‘let’s give’ or ‘to give honor or tribute’. It also means ‘once’ or ‘one time’ in the Nguni languages such as Ndebele, Xhosa, and Zulu.

71. Keita

It is a Malian surname, which means ‘blessing’.

72. Kenyatta

A common name among the Kenyan people, Kenyatta means ‘musician’. It is considered to be fundamentally masculine.

73. Kikelomo

It is a popular female given and last name among the Yoruba people, and means ‘a child to be cherished or pampered’.

74. Ladipo

Used both as a last name and a given name, Ladipo or Oladipo means ‘wealth and prosperity’. It is suitable for both boys and girls.

75. Mensah

One of the most popular African names, Mensah comes from the Akan group, and means ‘third child born to a couple’. This name suits both boys and girls.

76. Mmeremikwu

It is an aspirational surname with Igbo origin, which means ‘to be higher’ or ‘to be better’.

77. Mwanajuma

This surname has its ancestral roots in Swahili, and means ‘born on Friday’.

78. Ndiaye

Among the citizens of Senegal, Ndiaye is a ferocious surname as well as a given name. It means ‘descendant of the lion clan’, and is suitable for both genders.

79. Nenge

This unusual surname means ‘see’ in Tiv.

80. Nnadi

This name from the Igbo tribes means ‘my God is alive’ or ‘my father lives’.

81. Nnamani

Mostly given to the men as a surname or a given name, it means ‘my father’s land’ or ‘my ancestral home’. It is usually given to boys.

82. Nwachukwu

This surname shows the devout nature of the people towards religion and belief in God. It originates in Igbo and means ‘child of the supreme God’.

83. Nwadike

It is of Igbo origin and means ‘one who is from a strong lineage’, ‘this person is strong’, ‘child warrior’, or ‘ son of a hero’. It is usually given to boys.

84. Obama

Obama, to bend down

Popularized by former US president Barack Obama, the name has its origin in the Luo dialect, and means ‘to lean or bend’.

85. Obi

A mainstream name among the Igbo surnames in Nigeria, Obi means ‘heart’. It is considered a male name.

86. Obiakolam

It means ‘may I not lack a family or a home’.

87. Okiro

Originally a unisex nickname, Oriko is often used as a fond last name. It means ‘child with fat cheeks’.

88. Okoro

Another unisex name, Okoro means ‘child of the freeborn man’, or ‘man’ in Urhobo.

89. Okoye

It is a conventional surname across various African people and means ‘one who is born on orie market day’. This name has been brought to the big screen all over the world through a fictional character Okoye in a cultural phenomenon, the Black Panther movie.

90. Okpara

It is a common given name to male children, which means ‘firstborn son’ in Egyptian.

91. Okusanya

The surname with Yoruba origin means ‘god has rewarded me for my sufferings’. The name is an invocation to Ijebu, the god of wealth.

92. Oladele

It means ‘wealth has come home’, and is predominantly considered a male name.

93. Oladoyinbo

Usually found among the male population of Nigeria, this name means ‘honor surrounds him’.

94. Olanrewaju

Having its roots in Yoruba, the name means ‘my wealth is moving forward’ or ‘my wealth is the future’, and it is mostly given to boys.

95. Olatunji

Usually used as a given name and the last name, Olatunji means ‘wealth awakes again’. It is suitable for both boys and girls.

96. Olowe

It shows the unity of the families in the Yoruba groups. It means ‘one who has many people to call for help’, and is considered typically male.

97. Oluwusi:

It means ‘kingship has increased’.

98. Omenma

It is a nickname which also functions as the last name. It means ‘one who does good to others’.

99. Omenuko

The surname acknowledges the helpfulness or resourcefulness of a person. It means ‘one who acts at the time of scarcity’.

100. Onai

Having its origin in the Shona group of Zimbabwe, the name means ‘a call to observe’ or ‘to see that which has happened’. Its other variants are Wonai and Vonai.

101. Onyeneme

It is a name that compliments a person, and it means ‘one who does well’.

102. Onyilogwu

It means ‘one who is invulnerable to dark magic’.

103. Opeyemi

It is both a surname and a given name, which means ‘I should give praise’.

104. Orji

Another conventional name that praises physical strength is Orji. It means ‘sturdy or ‘mighty tree’. It is usually accepted as a male name. Its other variants are Orjea, Orjee, Orjey, Orjie, and Orjy.

105. Osei

Typically found in the Akan group of Ghania, it means ‘royalty’ or ‘noble person’. It is suitable for boys and girls.

106. Otueome

The rare surname means ‘he says and does as he said he would do’, and is considered to be a masculine name.

107. Owusu

It is an Akan male surname which means ‘strong-willed and determined’. Its female variant is Owusua.

108. Ọyáwálé

It means ‘the river goddess has come home’.

109. Oyekan

Generally used as a masculine name, it means ‘we have increased or multiplied’ or ‘we are many’ among the Shona group of Zimbabwe. It also means ‘the next to be crowned’ among the Yoruba speaking groups.

protip_icon Did you know?
Imari is a variant of the African name Imani, meaning ‘loyal.’

110. Oyinlola

It is a conventional female name among the Yoruba groups and means ‘wealth is sweet’.

111. Popoola

It means ‘intelligent people, love god’.

112. Sarpong

It has its origin in the Ashanti or Asante group. It means ‘supreme’ or ‘a great warrior’ and is usually given to boys.

113. Selassie

Generally given to boys, it has its origin in the Amharic language, and means ‘trinity’.

114. Temitope

It means ‘mine is worthy of thanks or gratitude’, and is suitable for both boys and girls.

115. Tersoo

It has its origin in the Tiv language, and means ‘father’s love’. It is considered to be primarily male.

116. Toure

This surname is possibly derived from the Soninkè word tùùrè, which means ‘elephant’. It is usually considered a male name.

117. Uduike

Udu means a clay pot to fill water, and Ike means strength. The name can be translated as ‘fullness of power’. It is generally regarded as suitable for boys.

118. Umburter

Derived from the Tiv language, it means ‘remember the father’. In this context, the father can also mean God. It is typically a male name.

119. Zadzisai

It has its roots in the Shona group of Zimbabwe, and means ‘ fulfilment of a pledge or a promise’.

120. Zivai

Another name that originates from the Shona group is Zivai, which means ‘you must know’. It is usually given to boys.

Discover More Names

When you have to choose a name for your baby, a few hundreds of names may not be just enough. Keep digging our mine of baby names until you find that one precious gem.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is an African last name usually passed down through generations?

African naming customs and practices vary significantly across the continent. In some African societies, a child’s last name is the same as their father’s, while in some, the child’s last name may combine the father’s and mother’s last names.

2. How do African last names reflect the culture of a particular ethnic group?

Last names in Africa often have meanings rooted in the traditions and history of the ethnic group. Many African last names are derived from the names of ancestors or family members. These factors make the last names reflect the culture of the ethnic group.

3. What are the traditions associated with African last names?

Last names in Africa have several traditions associated with them. Some last names are patrilineal, while others might be occupational or toponymic.

Africa’s different groups and tribes represent its cultural diversity and rich tradition. African last names are a reflection of their customs and peculiar naming traditions. Each name is unique and holds an ancestral meaning, symbolizing the origin and history. The above list includes all the meaningful surnames with their unique meanings. While going through these last names, remember that many African names may be masculine; however, as parents, choose the surnames that connect with you and suit your baby.

Infographic: Top African Surnames Rich In History And Culture

Surnames serve as a tool to identify our ancestry. The infographic below includes some popular ones from the African continent and of African descent. We mention the African last names with their meanings and origins to help you learn about their rich history.

african surnames for babies (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

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