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.
Most Popular African Last Names Or Surnames
Originating from the Igbo group of West Africa, Abara means ‘spirit’.
The genesis of this Ethiopian name is Amharic, and it means ‘flower’ or ‘blossom’.
A popular surname among the Yoruba people from different countries of West Africa, Abimbola means ‘born with wealth’.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
Another surname of Yoruba origin, Adebowale means ‘return of the crown’. It is suitable for both boys and girls.
Stemming from the Yoruba group, Adeleke means ‘the king/crown/royalty triumphed’. It is generally considered a boy name.
It is both a surname and given name of Yoruba origin, which means ‘the crown gained advancement’. It is suitable for boys.
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.
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.
A common last name for boys among the Yoruba people, Ademola means ‘the king/crown/royalty along with wealth’.
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.
Of Yoruba origin, the name means ‘the crown is good’.
Generally given to boys, it means ‘the king/crown/royalty befits me’ or ‘worthy of the crown’.
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.
It means ‘born into wealth’ or ‘born into high status’.
A common nickname among the Yoruba people, Afolayan means ‘one who walks with confidence’ or ‘one who carries oneself like a wealthy person’.
Usually earned, Agrinya means ‘warrior’ in the Yala language.
It is a globally used Igbo surname which means ‘tiger’.
In the Igbo language, Aguta means ‘to have plenty’ or ‘to have plenty/many’. It is primarily masculine in essence.
Another surname of Igbo origin, Agwuegbo means ‘the hardship is over’. It is mostly given to girls.
It means ‘the strong one has returned’. It is mostly given to boys due to its masculine connotation.
It means ‘valor is the worth of wealth’ or ‘being brave’, usually given to boys.
It means ‘destined to be a warrior’ in Yoruba language. This name is also masculine in essence.
Originating from the Ibibio group, Akpabio means ‘leader’, ‘noble’ or ‘prime’. It is usually given to boys.
Another Ibibio name, Aku means ‘wealth’.
An Igbo surname, Ala means ‘land’, while neme means ‘doing something’. It can be translated into ‘the land is active’.
Asa directly translates to ‘shield’, so Alasa means ‘lord or owner of the shield’. It is generally considered to be a masculine name.
In the Wolof language, Alioune means ‘lofty’ or ‘sublime’. Other variants include Ali and Alioun. It is generally given to boys.
It means ‘who knows tomorrow’, an implication of the uncertainty and potential of the future, in Igbo language. It is suitable for boys.
It means ‘the compound remains strong’ in Igbo language.
In the Tamazight language, Amaziane means ‘young’ or ‘little’. Meziane is a variation.
Commonly used as a male name in Nigeria, Anenih means ‘God bearing name’. It is a commonly adored name for boys.
In Igbo language, it means ‘my land is not lost’.
Among the Shona people of Zimbabwe, Anotidaishe means ‘the Lord loves us’.
It means ‘one who comes and goes’.
Another expression of a characteristic trait, Asaju means ‘leader of warriors’, and is considered primarily male.
Having its origin in Yoruba, Awolowo means ‘the oracle has dignity’. This name is often given to boys.
Among the Hausa tribes of Nigeria, Babangida means ‘the master of the house’. This name is primarily given to male members.
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.
Another name that implores to the child is Banmeke, which means ‘hold or sustain the rafter of the house with me’.
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.
Among the Xhosa and Ndebele groups of people, Buhle is a popular name which means ‘handsome’ or ‘beautiful’.
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.
In Igbo, this surname means ‘the Lord perfects all’ or ‘the God repairs.
A name that praises God is Chidubem, which means ‘God is my guide’ in Igbo.
Its variant is Chike, which means ‘God’s power’.
A name that acknowledges a divine concession is Chukwunyelu, which means ‘God gives’ in Igbo.
It is one of the most widely used Hausa nicknames which means ‘little’.
It has its roots in Yoruba and it means ‘a lot of wealth’.
Another nickname that also functions as a surname is Egebe, which means ‘kite’.
Eke means ‘superstructure of the roof’.
It is common both as a surname and a nickname. It means ‘a good runner’.
It means ‘peace’, suitable for a boy or a girl.
Having its roots in Ibibio, the surname or nickname Etienam means ‘a doer of good’ or ‘benevolent’.
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’.
One of the many surnames that appreciate the divine is a Yoruba name Folorunsho, which means ‘under God’s protection’.
It originates from the Swahili culture and means ‘delight’ or ‘happiness’.
One of the most popular and optimistic Xhosa names is Gcobani, which means ‘be joyful’. This name is primarily masculine.
Rooted in the Tiv language, Gowon means ‘the rainmaker’. This name is also predominantly given to boys.
It has its origins in the Benin culture and means ‘seeking refuge in the elder’s protection’.
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.
It is an Igbo surname and nickname, which conveys pride. It means ‘the one that I have is greater’.
One of the given and last names for boys among the Swahili tribes, Jelani means ‘mighty’ or ‘full of strength’.
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.
It is a Malian surname, which means ‘blessing’.
A common name among the Kenyan people, Kenyatta means ‘musician’. It is considered to be fundamentally masculine.
It is a popular female given and last name among the Yoruba people, and means ‘a child to be cherished or pampered’.
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.
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.
It is an aspirational surname with Igbo origin, which means ‘to be higher’ or ‘to be better’.
This surname has its ancestral roots in Swahili, and means ‘born on Friday’.
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.
This unusual surname means ‘see’ in Tiv.
This name from the Igbo tribes means ‘my God is alive’ or ‘my father lives’.
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.
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’.
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.
Popularized by former US president Barack Obama, the name has its origin in the Luo dialect, and means ‘to lean or bend’.
A mainstream name among the Igbo surnames in Nigeria, Obi means ‘heart’. It is considered a male name.
It means ‘may I not lack a family or a home’.
Originally a unisex nickname, Oriko is often used as a fond last name. It means ‘child with fat cheeks’.
Another unisex name, Okoro means ‘child of the freeborn man’, or ‘man’ in Urhobo.
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.
It is a common given name to male children, which means ‘firstborn son’ in Egyptian.
The surname with Yoruba origin means ‘god has rewarded me for my sufferings’. The name is an invocation to Ijebu, the god of wealth.
It means ‘wealth has come home’, and is predominantly considered a male name.
Usually found among the male population of Nigeria, this name means ‘honor surrounds him’.
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.
Usually used as a given name and the last name, Olatunji means ‘wealth awakes again’. It is suitable for both boys and girls.
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.
It means ‘kingship has increased’.
It is a nickname which also functions as the last name. It means ‘one who does good to others’.
The surname acknowledges the helpfulness or resourcefulness of a person. It means ‘one who acts at the time of scarcity’.
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.
It is a name that compliments a person, and it means ‘one who does well’.
It means ‘one who is invulnerable to dark magic’.
It is both a surname and a given name, which means ‘I should give praise’.
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.
Typically found in the Akan group of Ghania, it means ‘royalty’ or ‘noble person’. It is suitable for boys and girls.
The rare surname means ‘he says and does as he said he would do’, and is considered to be a masculine name.
It is an Akan male surname which means ‘strong-willed and determined’. Its female variant is Owusua.
It means ‘the river goddess has come home’.
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.
It is a conventional female name among the Yoruba groups and means ‘wealth is sweet’.
It means ‘intelligent people, love god’.
It has its origin in the Ashanti or Asante group. It means ‘supreme’ or ‘a great warrior’ and is usually given to boys.
Generally given to boys, it has its origin in the Amharic language, and means ‘trinity’.
It means ‘mine is worthy of thanks or gratitude’, and is suitable for both boys and girls.
It has its origin in the Tiv language, and means ‘father’s love’. It is considered to be primarily male.
This surname is possibly derived from the Soninkè word tùùrè, which means ‘elephant’. It is usually considered a male name.
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.
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.
It has its roots in the Shona group of Zimbabwe, and means ‘ fulfilment of a pledge or a promise’.
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.
We hope you liked our selection. Let us know your favorites in the comment section.