The meaning behind Ghanaian names

Every name has a meaning for example Emma means “big” and “awesome”. In Ghana your name depends on the day you were born, how many children your parents had before you or whether you’re a twin.

Akan

The Ghanaian naming system comes from the Akan. The Akan is the largest ethnic group in Ghana. The Akan live in the regions: Ashanti, Eastern, Central and parts of Western and Brong-Ahafo. The language consists of several dialects. A well-known Akan is Kofi Annan (former Secretary-General of the United Nations). Koffi means “born on a Friday.” There are three dialects of the Akan who have their own spelling: the Asante, the Akuapem and Fante.

Ghanaian names and the day you were born on

Which name you are given depends on what day you were born on and whether you are a boy or a girl. The day you were born on is important to the Akan, because it will influence your behavior and future expectations. Just as in many other countries around the world, the days of the week are named after the gods. Saturday comes from Saturn, the god of agriculture.

Day Boys Girls
Twi Fante  Twi Fante
zondag Kwasiada Kwasi Kwesi Akosua Akosua/Esi
maandag εdwoada Kwadwo Kojo/Jojo Adwoa Adwoa
dinsdag εbenada Kwabena Kobina/Ebo/Kwamena Abenaa Abenaa/Araba
woensdag Wukuada Kwaku Kweku/Kuuku Akua Ekua/Kuukua
donderdag Yawoada Yao Ekow Yaa Aba
vrijdag Efiada Kofi Kofi/Fiifi/Fi Afua Efua/Efe
zaterdag Memeneda Kwame Kwame/Kwamina/Ato Ama Ama

Order of birth and naming in Ghana

The name may also depend on how many older siblings you have and if your a twin. Twins automatically get the name Ata as a boy and as a girl Ataa added. In the table below you can see the name given to you, depending on how many children your parents had before you. For example: do you have one older sibling? In this case the name added to your name would be “Mienu”.

Getallen Twi Naam Twi Naam Fante Getallen Fante
mienu 2 Manu 2 ebien
miensa 3 Mεnsa (m); Mansa (v) 3 ebiasa
εnan 4 Anane Annan 4 anan
enum 5 Num Anum 5 anum
(e)nsia 6 Nsia 6 esia
(e)nson 7 Nson Esuon 7 esuon
(e)nwɔtwe 8 Nwɔtwe Awotwe 8 awɔtwe
(e)nkron 9 Nkroma Akron 9 akrɔn
(e)du 10 Badu Beduwaa 10 du

Circumstances of birth

The name you were given at birth also depends on different kind of factors. Like your birthplace, if you were born in Kumasi, you can literally be called Kumasi, or if you’re born in the backseat of the car, you can derive this from your name! If you were born on a holy day, your name can be the name of this day, even if there were sad circumstances surrounding your birth,your name can reflect these circumstances.