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Ghanaian names are based on ethnic Akan and Ewe names. Most of them base the given name (first names) they give to their newly born children on the day of the week on which the child has been born with the family name (surname). The Akan and Ewe people of Ghana frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. These names have spread throughout Ghana and Jamaica. For example, in Jamaica the following day names have been recorded: Monday, Cudjoe; Tuesday, Cubbenah; Wednesday, Quaco; Thursday, Quao; Friday, Cuffee; Saturday, Quamin; Sunday, Quashee. English translations of these names were used in the United States during the nineteenth century; Robinson Crusoe's Man Friday may be conceptually related.
Most Ghanaians have at least one name from this system. Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was so named for being born on a Saturday (Kwame) and being the ninth born (Nkrumah). Also, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, was so named for being born on a Friday (Kofi).
In the official orthography of the Akan language, versions of these names as spoken in Kumasi are as follows. The diacritics on á a̍ à represent high, mid, and low tone (tone does not need to be marked on every vowel), while the diacritic on a̩ is used for vowel harmony and can be ignored. (Diacritics are frequently dropped in any case.) Variants of the names are used in other languages, or may represent different transliteration schemes. The variants mostly consist of different affixes (in Akan, kwa- or ko- for men and a- plus -a or -wa for women). For example, Akan dwo is pronounced something like English Joe, but there do appear to be two sets of names for those born on Tuesday.
Examples of Ghanaian soul names
- Monday: Kojo, Kwadwo, Jojo, Cudjoe, Kudjoe, Kodzo
- Tuesday: Kwabena, Ebo, Komla, Kobena, Kobina, Kobby,
- Wednesday: Kwaku, Kweku, Kwiku, Korku
- Thursday: Yaw, Ekow, Yao, Yokow
- Friday: Kofi, Fiifi, Yoofi
- Saturday: Kwame, Ato, Atoapem, Kwamena, Komi,Kwami
- Sunday: Kwasi, Akwasi, Kwesi
- Monday: Adwoa, Adzo, Ajoba, Ejo, Adjoa
- Tuesday: Abenaa, Abla, Araba, Abina, Abra
- Wednesday: Akua, Akuba, Ekuwa, Kukuwa, Aku
- Thursday: Yaa, Aba, Ayewa, Yaaba, Yaayaa, Awo, Yawo
- Friday: Afua, Afi, Afia, Efie, Efua
- Saturday: Ama, Amma, Foowa, Ami
- Sunday: Akosua, Esi, Kisi
Characteristics of each day
- Monday's child is the father or mother in the family; nurturing in nature, dependable and organized, and protective of his/her family.
- Tuesday's child is the problem solver and planner of the family. They are structured in nature, neutral in all matters and never take sides.
- Wednesday's child is fully in control of every situation, does not want to be told what to do, knows it all, is spontaneous, vibrant and cordial.
- Thursday's child is quiet in nature and incredibly observant. They are generally listeners, not talkers, and analyzes situations very well.
- Friday's child is a leader, not a follower. He/she is very temperamental but has a big heart. Generally the instigator of everything.
- Saturday's child likes to take control of family situations. He/she runs the show and make the rules, but will go out of his/her way for others any time.
- Sunday's child is the passive, sensitive and warm member of the family. He/she tends to be shy and likes to keep to his/her self, but is very aware of his/her surroundings and usually is the secret keeper of the family.
- Johan Degen, Traditional Ghanaian Names at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2007)