Fairafric explains: the meaning of Ghanaian names

Fairafric erklärt: Die Bedeutung ghanaischer Namen

The Ghanaian culture is not all similar. It consists of hundreds of different people who speak their dialect and language and have the most diverse cultural ancestry. However, the various Ghanaian ethnic groups are largely united in one thing: the naming of their children.

From Ghana to Jamaica

The Akans, culturally and linguistically related people in West Africa, like other African and even Jamaican ethnic groups: name their children after the day they were born.

Day of the week Akan-day female first names male first names
Monday Edwoada/Dwoada Adwoa/Adjoa, Ejo, Adzo Jojo, Kojo, Kwadwo
Tuesday Ebenada/Benada Abena, Abla Kwabena, Kobina, Ebo
Wednesday Wukuada Akua, Aku, Ekuwa Kweku, Kuuku, Kwaku
Thursday Yawoada Yaaba, Yaa Yao, Yaw, Ekwo
Friday Efiada/Fiada Efua/Afua, Afi, Afia Kofi, Yoofi, Fiifi
Saturday Memeneda Awo, Aba, Ama, Amma Kwame, Ato, Kwamena
Sunday Kwasiada Akosua, Kisi, Esi Siisi, Akwasi, Kwesi

This naming according to days of the week does have a deeper meaning, because the day on which a person was born has about the same meaning as the assignment to a zodiac sign in the western hemisphere.

But what if several siblings are born on the same day of the week? No problem, then number or order words are integrated into the name:

  • "Manu" (the second) / "Maanu" (the second).
  • "Mensa" (the third) / "Mansa" (the third) or
  • "Annan" (the fourth) / "Anane" (the fourth).

"Anan Kwame", for example, would be the fourth son born on a Saturday. By the way, you can recognize a firstborn by the first name "Piesie". And if they are twins? Also for this the name logic knows a solution: In this case, the first name "At(t)a" is simply added. "Tawia", in turn, is the name for the child born after twins.

Names, names, names

In addition, it is not uncommon to put another name in front of the weekday name: This then denotes the situation in which a child was born. For example, if a couple has a desired child after a long time, the name "Nhyira", which means "God's blessing", is not unusual. There are numerous additional names: For example, a "Nyambura" was born during the rainy season or an "Abionakam" on the way.

But that is not all. Depending on the religion (Christian or Muslim), the children are often given common Christian or Muslim first names.

Thus, at least the first names are complete. The naming itself is done in the following order:Religious name (Christian or Muslim)

Number (the / the first, second,...)
Day of the week

So with this knowledge it is easy to find out your personal Ghanaian name. If you use the above overview as guide, you can come up with your Ghanaian name very precisely (except for situational cases). If you feel like sharing it with us, we would love to hear from you! By the way, the authors of this article at fairafric are Katharina Maanu Kisi Nhyira and Nicholas Kweku Manu.

And should you be white or light-skinned, it is quite possible that - despite having your Ghanaian name - you will simply be called "Kwasibroni" when in Ghana. This is a combination of the words "Kwasi" and "Obroni". "Kwasi" is a male born on Sunday and "Obroni" means white in twi (Ghanaian dialect). This designation for light-skinned people probably goes back to white Christian missionaries who declared Sunday as the Lord's Day - however, the exact origin of this portmanteau word is not documented.

By the way: if you introduce yourself to someone who was born in the same situation or on the same day of the week as you, you are directly regarded as brothers or sisters in Ghana - because a common birthday connects!

Prominent name representatives:

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ("Kofi" = masculine for "born on a Friday")
Ghana's first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah ("Kwame" = masculine for "born on a Saturday")
Writer Ama Ata Aidoo ("Ama" = feminine for "born on a Saturday," plus she has twin siblings (->, "Ata"))