50+ interesting African last names/surnames and their meanings

50+ interesting African last names/surnames and their meanings

Surnames provide a great bridge to the family's past because they are passed from generation to another. African last names have reflective and unique meanings.

African last names
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Source: UGC

Common African last names are a reflection of a person's tribe. During the naming process, parents tend to confine themselves within cultural lines. As such, someone's name is likely to tell you more about his country of origin and tribe.

African last names

Africa is the second-largest continent on earth with an equally large population. Apart from a significant fraction of the northern section of Africa, most people on the continent are black.

Africans are further divided into numerous tribes, sub-tribes, and clans, which is evident from their cultural diversity. This tells you why Nigerian surnames are completely different from those from South Africa. Here are some of the most common African surnames and their meanings.

Nigerian last names

Nigerian last names
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Source: UGC

Nigeria has numerous tribes, including the Igbo and Yoruba people. Therefore, the list of African surnames here consists of Yoruba as well as Igbo last names.

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  • Abara - Spirit
  • Abdullahi - One who follows God or is the servant of God
  • Abiola - One of the Yoruba last names, which means born in honour and wealth
  • Abimbola - To be born wealthy
  • Adebayo - King or crown or royalty
  • Adeoye - Crown
  • Adeyemi - Worth to be a king
  • Aguta - Countless, to have many
  • Agwuegbo - Hardship is over
  • Akerele - Small but tough
  • Akinyemi - Fated to be a warrior
  • Onyilogwu - One who is invulnerable to the dark magic
  • Akpabio - A leader, or noble person
  • Alana - Precious and beautiful
  • Amaechi - One who knows tomorrow
  • Asaju - A warrior or leader of warriors
  • Bankole - Help build our house
  • Chidubem - Guided by God
  • Eesuola - To have a lot of wealth
  • Chinua - God's blessings
  • Gbadamosi - The independent one
  • Agrinya - Warrior
  • Nwadike - It means this person is strong or son of the hero
  • Oladoyinbo - Honour surround him
  • Umunna - Children of the Father
  • Oyawale - The river goddess came home
  • Akintola - One of the Yoruba surnames, it means being brave is as good as wealth

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Ancient Egyptian last names

Egyptian last names
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Source: UGC

Egypt is one of the countries in the northern part of Africa. The country has about 90% Muslims and 10% Christians. Here are common Egyptian last names.

  • Arafa - To know
  • Elsharkawy - The one from the east
  • Chafulumisa - Meaning fast
  • Chatha - meaning ends
  • Chatuluka - Meaning departs
  • Chenzira - One born on a journey
  • Chibale - A kinsman
  • Abdallah - Servant of God
  • Chuma - Wealthy One
  • Gyasi - Wonderful
  • Elrashidy - Well guided, following the right course
  • Ayad - Hand with power
  • Hamadi - praised
  • Hasani or Husani - Handsome
  • Mubarak - Lucky or blessed
  • Magdy - To praise and glorify
  • El Sayed - The master
  • Khenemetibamun - She who is with the heart of Amun
  • Bashar - The bringer of good things
  • Faheem - Perceptive’ or ‘intelligent
  • Farouq - The redeemer, one who differentiates between the right and wrong
  • Habib - Beloved or friend
  • Ibrahim - The father of all
  • Mohammed - Praise-worthiness and laudability
  • Yusuf - The strength, power, influence and devotion
  • Taleb - A devoted student or a seeker of knowledge
  • Tawfiq - Means an opportunity or chance to gain knowledge or succeed in life

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Native Ethiopian last names

Ethiopian last names
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Source: UGC

Ethiopian surnames are popular among the natives of that particular country. The county has several tribes, and these names vary from one tribe to the other. Every Ethiopian last name has a meaning. Here are some of them with their meanings.

  • Aaron - High mountain
  • Addisu - The new one
  • Bekele - One who is growing
  • Neberu - Means tiger
  • Omari - God is exalted
  • Tamru - The miraculous one
  • Yelekal - One who excels
  • Ali - Elevated
  • Alimayu - In God's honour
  • Mideksa - Independent
  • Nyala - The mountain goat
  • Semere - One who became successful
  • Kia - Season's beginning
  • Nuru - Born during the day
  • Chaltu - The best of the best
  • Fewesi - To heal
  • Negasi - One who will wear a crown
  • Tsige - Precious gift
  • Freyhiwot - It means a life-giving seed
  • Fessehaye - External happiness
  • Ayele - One who became strong and powerful
  • Afework - Someone who always say pleasant things
  • Solomon - One who is wise and peaceful
  • Nahome - Compassionate
  • Iskander - Mankind's defender
  • Hakim - Judicious
  • Eleazar - God's assistant

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South African last names

South Africa, like the name suggests, is a country on the southern side of the continent. Like most African countries, South Africa has many tribes. Here are some unique South African surnames.

  • Masondo (Zulu origin) - meaning wheels
  • Phukuntsi - One who attracts flies
  • Tshabalala - Shooting star
  • Yeboah - One who helps others (a cheerful giver)
  • Zadzisai - Fulfillment of a promise
  • Buhle - Handsome
  • Odili - Peace
  • Gumede - To end what you have started
  • Khumalo - The descendant of the fish tribe
  • Biko - A person of the people
  • Buthelezi - Means chief
  • Chaka - Year
  • Dlamini - Royalty
  • Luthuli - The month of dust
  • Mahlangu - One who carries the shield
  • Makeba - A precious jewel
  • Mandela - Gift from God
  • Maponya - The king of elephants
  • Mbatha - Protector
  • Mlambo - River
  • Msiza - One who helps
  • Nkosi - The king
  • Tutu - Wealth
  • Thabisa - To bring joy
  • Radebe - Big tree
  • Twala - To carry

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Ghanaian last names

Ghanaian last names
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Source: UGC

Ghana is another West African country known for its rich cultures. Here is a list of Ghana last names.

  • Owusu - Strong-minded and determined
  • Abina - Someone who was born on a Thursday
  • Tawiah - The first child born after twins
  • Addo - King for the road
  • Frimpong - Blessings
  • Adjei - Talkative and charming
  • Agyapong - God's completeness
  • Amihere - Audacity, meticulousness, and sincerity
  • Appiah - Prince or first
  • Asamoah - Apostles (it can also be the first name)
  • Boakye-Yiadom - Show grace
  • Boateng - One who is a humble person and holy to God
  • Hudson-Odoi - Sensitive and imaginative
  • Mensah - Born third
  • Oppong - Means kind
  • Quansah - God is watching
  • Obeng - Smart and brilliant
  • Antwi - Powerful and complete
  • Asare - A warrior or conqueror

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Kenyan last names

Kenya is a country on the eastern side of the African continent. The country has about 42 tribes. Here are some of the surnames you will find in Kenya.

  • Barmasai - One who has killed or captured a Maasai
  • Kipkorir - Born shortly before dawn
  • Kimutai - Born in mid-morning
  • Gacoki - One who returns
  • Gakere - Muscular
  • Gakuru - An elderly one
  • Gatete- A milk gourd
  • Gathii- A wanderer
  • Ochola/Achola - One born after the father’s death
  • Odongo/Adongo - The second born of a twin pair
  • Magero - One who is causing fearfulness
  • Natela - Brightness and light
  • Mueni - The new one
  • Mutuku - Born at night
  • Nyachae - One who is generous
  • Wanyama - Animals

Swahili last names

Swahili is a language commonly spoken in Kenya and Tanzania. It is believed that it came about because of the intermarriage between the coastal Bantus and the Arab travellers. Check below for common Swahili surnames.

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  • Faraji - Consolation
  • Imamu - Spiritual leader
  • Muchumba - Sweetheart
  • Zuri - Beautiful
  • Zubira - Patience
  • Zuberi - Strong
  • Sauda- Dark complexion
  • Omari - Uncertainty

African American last names

African American last names
A man and woman standing adjacent to a white painted wall. Photo: unsplash.com, @jmason
Source: UGC

African American surnames have also gained popularity. Here are some of the most common African American last names.

  • Williams - It is derived from the elements will, "desire or will," and helm, "helmet or protection."
  • Johnson - Son of John (gift of God)
  • Davis - Son of David (beloved)
  • Moore - One who lived at or near a moor, or a dark-complexioned man
  • Sanchez - Derived from Sancho, which means sanctified
  • Lewis - Renowned and famous battle
  • Rivera - One who lived on a riverbank or near a river
  • Roberts - It means bright fame
  • Turner - One who works with a lathe
  • Morales - Right and proper

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There you have it! These are some of the most famous African last names you will come across. There are plenty more of them, though.

READ ALSO: Cool warrior names for girls and boys

Legit.ng recently published an article on cool warrior names for boys and girls. Kids who bear warrior names usually grow with a strong character demonstrating strength, vigour, courage, and exceptional ability to conquer certain life situations.

If you want to see warrior-like traits in your children, it would be imperative to choose the right names. The article gives several names to choose from.

Source: Legit.ng

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