100 African Last Names With Meanings And History

Georgia Stone
Feb 15, 2024 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Nov 09, 2020
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Read time: 7.7 Min

The culture and diversity of the African continent are seen through its wide range of last names.

We have listed 100 surnames of African origin in this article. Each last name has an origin and a meaning, and we have also included any additional information or history behind some names.

Whilst this is a list of last names, many of the last names on this list have also been used as first names too. There are 54 countries on the African continent, and each is made up of unique people from different ethnic groups which provides a rich variety to the range of different surnames found across the continent. There are also hundreds of languages spoken on the continent, providing endless interesting meanings of each last name. The names are organised into subsections based on the location of their origin, in order to make this list as clear as possible for your enjoyment.

If you enjoy this article are interested in finding more naming information, take a look at these Peruvian last names and these Czech last names, but for now enjoy this list of African surnames with their origins and meanings.

West African Last Names

Portrait of Mother and her son having natural curly hair

West Africa is home to some of the most popular African last names. Here you will find some great Nigerian last names, like Abimbola which means "born into wealth" and Obi, which means "heart". This list also contains some of the most common Yoruba surnames, like Adebayo and some interesting Igbo last names. Without any more delays, let's get to the good part and get to know more about some West African last names.

1. Abimbola (Nigerian origin) meaning "born into wealth," the name is specific to the Yoruba people of western Nigeria.

2. Abiodun (Nigerian origin) meaning "born during festivities," and is from the Yoruba ethnic group.

3. Abioye (Nigerian origin) means "born into royalty," from the Yoruba ethnic group.

4. Acheampong (Ashanti origin) this last names means "destined for greatness," found among the Ashanti people of Ghana.

5. Achebe (Nigerian origin) meaning "the goddess protects," from the Igbo people of Nigeria.

6. Adebisi (Nigerian origin) meaning "we/the King gave birth to more," from the Yoruba ethnic group.

7. Afia (Akan origin) meaning "born on a Friday," commonly found in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

8. Agrinya (Nigerian origin) means "warrior," found amongst the Ogoja people of Nigeria.

9. Agu (Nigerian origin) means "tiger" and is a popular Igbo name.

10. Agwuegbo (Nigerian origin) means "the hardship is over," found among the Igbo people.

11. Akpabio (Nigerian origin) means "leader" or "noble," and is found among the Ibibio people.

12. Alioune (Senegalis origin) meaning "sublime" or "lofty".

13. Bankole (Nigerian origin) means "help me build my house," from the Yoruba ethnic group.

14. Dogo (Nigerian origin) means "little," found among the Hausa in the northern part of Nigeria.

15. Keita (Malian origin) means "blessing," found among the people of Mali.

16. Ladipo (Nigerian origin) meaning "wealth and prosperity," peculiar to the Yoruba people.

17. Mensah (Akan origin) means "third child," found among the people of Ghana.

18. Ndiaye (Senegal origin) meaning "descendant of the lion clan".

19. Nenge (Nigerian origin) means "see," found among the Tiv people.

20. Osei (Ghanaian origin) means "noble person" or "royalty," and is common among the Akan people.

21. Owusu (Ghanaian origin) means "strong will and determined".

22. Popoola (Nigerian origin) means "intelligent people," found in the Yoruba ethnic group.

23. Sarpong (Ghanaian origin) means "great warrior" or "supreme," found among the Ashanti group.

24. Toure (Ghanaian origin) means "elephant," from the Soninke word.

25. Umburter (Nigerian origin) means "remember the father," found among the Tiv people.

East African Last Names

Flag of Tanzania in the World Map

You can find some beautiful and popular African last names from countries in eastern Africa. This list contains Ethiopian last names, Sudanese last names and many more. You will find the place of origin and the meaning of each name in this list too.

26. Abebe (Ethiopian origin) means "blossom" or "flower". It is among the most common African last names.

27. Ahishakiye (Rwandan origin) meaning "whenever God wants".

28. Afumba (Zambian origin) meaning "when they plan".

29. Aguer (South Sudanese origin) means “tree”.

30. Amani (Ethiopian origin) means “faith”.

31. Axmed (Somali origin) the variant for Ahmed.

32. Ayenew (Ethiopian origin) means “to renew”.

33. Baharia (Swahili origin) means “one who sails,” common among the people of Tanzania and Kenya.

34. Bayu (Ethiopian origin) meaning “wind”.

35. Bilaal (Somali origin) means “moistening”.

36. Chalo (Zambian origin) means “battle”.

37. Cilmi (Somali origin) means “smart”.

38. Dawit (Amharic origin) means “beloved”.

39. Deressa (Ethiopian origin) the meaning of this name isn’t quite clear.

40. Dualeh (Somali origin) the meaning of this name is unknown.

41. Elmi (Somali origin) means “knowledge”.

42. Elya (Ethiopian origin) meaning “my God is Yahweh”.

43. Fuli (Swahili origin) means “very fast”.

44. Gebreyes (Ethiopian origin) means ”servant of”.

45. Ghirmai (Unknown origin) means “my majesty”.

46. Juma (Swahili origin) means “Friday born”.

47. Kahinu (Swahili origin) means “clergyman”.

48. Kaloki (Kenyan origin) the meaning isn’t quite known.

49. Mambwe (Zambian origin) meaning "the Lord is gracious".

50. Negga (Ethiopian origin) means "the night has passed".

North African Last Names

The northern part of Africa, according to the UN, is made up of seven countries. These countries have their own beautiful languages, resulting in a range of different names that are unique to this region. Many of the population here practice Islam, hence there are a lot of names that originate from the Arabic language too. Some of these names can also be found in other parts of Africa, but are more commonly found amongst people in northern Africa.

51. Ait (Berber origin) means “son,” and is found among people from Morocco.

52. Albaz (Jewish origin) means “falconer” and originates from Morocco and Algeria.

53. Amel (North African origin) means “hope”.

54. Ameziane (Tamazight origin) means “little” or “young,” this last name is from a language that is mainly spoken in Algeria.

55. Benhaim (Judoe origin) means “son of life”.

56. Bouhouche (Kabyle origin) means “father”.

57. Boujettif (Archaic origin) means “the family of the son of the clever head’.

58. Ech (North African origin) meaning “edge” or “corner”.

59. Elmalik (Arabic origin) means “the King,” often found in the countries of northern Africa.

60. Grigahcine (Kabyle origin) this last name is most widely found in Algeria.

61. Haggar (North African origin) means “flight”.

62. Haliche (Berber origin) the meaning of this name isn’t quite certain.

63. Hamadache (Algerian origin) the meaning is unknown.

64. Izem (Berber origin) from the Tamazight word which means “lion”.

65. Jlassi (Tunisian origin) means “loyalty” or “sincerity”.

66. Jomana (Arabic origin) means “a pearl”.

67. Mazigh (Arabic origin) means “free man”.

68. Meghnagi (Libyan origin) could refer to zion.

69. Mkerref (Moroccan origin) the meaning isn’t quite certain.

70. Mokrani (Berber origin) refers to a town in Algeria.

71. Ouahmed (Berber origin) meaning “son of Ahmed”.

72. Ouyahia (Berber origin) means “son of Yahia”.

73. Siddig (Arabic origin) meaning “friend”.

74. Talia (Arabic origin) means “lamb” or “dew of God”.

75. Zammit (Tunisian origin) means “servant of”.

Southern African Last Names

The names in this section are not just limited to the country, South Africa, but also to other regions in the southern part of the continent of Africa. There are ten countries found in this part of the continent, not counting the island of Madagascar.  Some of the names on this list have similar meanings but are derived from different languages and tribes. Find out some great southern African names with this list.

76. Alinafe (Malawi origin) means “he is with us”.

77. Amahle (Zulu origin) means “the beautiful ones”.

78. Ayanda (South African origin) means “they are increasing,” found in the Zulu, Ndebele, and Xhosa tribes.

79. Boipelo (Botswanan origin) means “proud”.

80. Boitumelo (Botswanan origin) means “joy”.

81. Bongani (South African origin) means “thankful” or “grateful” in Zulu.

82. Bonolo (South African origin) means “ease” in the Sotho language.

83. Charlize (South African origin) most common as a first name, this is the feminine version of Charles made popular by the actress Charlize Theron.

84. Chifundo (Malawi origin) means “mercy” in the Chewa language.

85. Chikondi (Malawi origin) means “love”.

86. Chimwemwe (Malawi origin) means “pleasure” or “joy”.

87. Chipo (Shona origin) means “gift”.

88. Chisomo (Malawi origin) means “grace”.

89. Chrizanne (South African origin) from the Afrikaans tribe, this is a combination of Christine and Anne.

90. Dalitso (Malawi origin) means “blessing”.

91. Dikeledi (Botswanan origin) means “tears”.

92. Dumisani (South African origin) means “praise” in Zulu and Ndebele.

93. Fatsani (Botswanan origin) means “be meek” in Chewa.

94. Fungai (South African origin) means “think”.

95. Ganizani (Botswanan origin) means “think” in Chewa.

96. Hlengiwe (South African origin) means “redeemed”.

97. Itumeleng (Botswanan origin) means “joy”.

98. Kabelo (Sotho origin) means “given”.

99. Kagiso (Tswana origin) means “peace”.

100. Katlego (Tswana origin) means “success”.

Kidadl has lots of great names articles to inspire you. If you liked our suggestions for African Last Names then why not take a look at Scottish last names, or for more last names take a look at these Croatian surnames.

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

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Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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