In African culture, specific traditions exist for naming children. Often, the time when a child is born--in daylight, at sunset, on a particular day of the week--influences the name. Children born on Friday in Swahili cultures may be called Juma, which is derived from the Kiswahili word ljumas--Friday. Ibibio and Efik peoples often name boys Edet, for “market day.” Children are also frequently named for major events happening at the time of their birth. Kesi is a Swahili name for a female child born when her father is having financial problems. The word kesi literally translates as “lawsuit” in Kiswahili.
Brimming with fascinating facts about the cultures and rulers of this vast and diverse land, African Names is an essential and enlightening resource that will help to make the process of choosing a name a truly unique meaningful experience.
Julia Stewart is a freelance writer who lived in Nairobi for three years and was renamed by her Nairobian friends with the Kikuyu name Muthoni. A longtime student of African, she speaks Kiswahili and holds a master’s degree in African studies from Ohio University. When she is not in Africa, Ms. Stewart’s home base is in Columbus, Ohio.