Ghanaian Baby Naming Methods


As some may have noticed, Ghanaians tend to have pretty long names! If you are a non-Ghanaian & have Ghanaian friends, ask them what their FULL name is. By this I mean the name they were given at their ‘Outdooring’ (naming ceremony) or the traditional names they were given. WARNING! Make sure you have a few minutes to spare for the answer!! ;-)

When a Ghanaian baby is born a lot of thought goes into the naming…as with many cultures around the world. Some Kenyan tribes like to name their babies based on its appearance. E.g ‘Haidar’ means strong & stout. In China, parents sometimes give their boys plain or meaningless names to trick evil spirits into overlooking them.

There is currently a trend in the Western world for unusual baby names, this has been lead by celebrities, like Beyonce & Jay-z’s Blue Ivy Carter

Blue Ivy Carter_myghanaroots

In Ghana it is not unknown for a child to have 5 names, but there is a method to the madness. Trust me!
Ghanaians will call upon some, if not all of the following factors to pull together their child’s name: 

The Day the child was born (See table below for Akan names)
Akan Naming by Day
Birth order - A name may be given in relation to the order of birth. First (Opiesie), second (Manu), third born (Mensah) and so on. If you have twins they will be referred to as Atta. The first born will be called “Panyin” and second born “Kaakra”.

Circumstances of birth – If there has been a significant circumstance surrounding the birth, this may be added as one of the names the child has. For example a lady who was told she would never have kids, but believed her local river blessed her with good luck and gave her child the name of the river.

Religious names - Families that are Christian will add a biblical name following the Christening. E.g John or Angela.

Respected family member or friend - It is not uncommon for the name of a respected family member or friend to be used instead of the father of the child. This is usually seen as the highest form of tribute and respect for the person.

Surname of father, aka the family name –This is a tradition familiar to many of us brought up the Western way. Traditionally, this was not always included as part of a child’s name, but today some children also carry their family name.

So there you have it! Now you can work out what your friends or your own Ghanaian name should be!

An example for you:
Kofi Emmanuel  ‘Azonto’ Mensah Appau = A Friday born boy, who was Christened as Emmanuel and is the 3rd born in his family. His Father’s surname is Appau & his mother‘s water broke whilst she was attempting to do the Azonto dance!
7 Responses to “Ghanaian Baby Naming Methods”
  1. Addy says:

    Good to know. Just had my baby 2 days ago. Will add a couple of names now

  2. Joseph says:

    Nice post. I will refer to this when i name my child this year :-)

  3. dkwabena says:

    Love it, keep blessing us with that information.

  4. Adwoa says:

    Well done “Mary Akua Kakra Serwah Appiah”

    • Sodark says:

      There is an inexactitude in your information here. A child is not called Manu or Mensah just because he’s a second or third born respectively. Manu is given when the child is the 2nd consecutive boy or girl and Mensah/Mansa the third consecutive boy/girl. If it’s the fourth of the same sex consecutively, they are called ANANE/ANNAN(boys) or ANANE (girls). NUM(5), NSIA(6) for any of the sexes, NSON(7), AWOTWE (8), NKRUMAH (9th ), BADU (10th) DUKU(11th) for both sexes etc

  5. Bakwa Mwelanzambi Celestin says:

    I am from Congo, but was impressed that naming ceremonies are better well known in Ghana. Congratulations as this is aq real cultural asset. I’m writing a book in french on naming ceremonies, with a forthcoming in English.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Quite good

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: