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Africanization or Africanisation (lit., making something African) has been applied in various contexts, notably in geographic and personal naming and in the composition of the civil service e.g. via processes such as indigenization.[1]

Africanization of names[edit]

Africanization has referred to the modification of place names and personal names to reflect an "African" identity. In some cases, changes are not a change of transliteration rather than of the European name.[2]

In many cases during the colonial period, African place names were Anglicized or Francized.

Place names[edit]

Country names[edit]

Various African countries have undergone name changes during the previous century as the result of consolidations and secessions, territories gaining sovereignty, and regime changes.

Previous name Year Current name
Dahomey, Republic of 1975 Benin, Republic of
Bechuanaland Protectorate 1966 Botswana, Republic of
Upper Volta 1984 Burkina Faso
Ubangi-Shari 1960 Central African Republic
Zaire, Republic of 1997 Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Middle Congo 1960 Congo, Republic of the
French Somaliland / Afars and Issas 1977 Djibouti, Republic of
Spanish Guinea 1968 Equatorial Guinea, Republic of
Swaziland, Kingdom of 2018 Eswatini, Kingdom of
Gold Coast 1957 Ghana, Republic of
French Guinea 1958 Guinea, Republic of
Portuguese Guinea 1974 Guinea-Bissau, Republic of
Basutoland, Territory of 1966 Lesotho, Kingdom of
Nyasaland Protectorate 1964 Malawi, Republic of
French Sudan 1960 Mali, Republic of
South-West Africa 1990 Namibia, Republic of
Ruanda-Urundi 1962 Rwanda, Republic of / Burundi, Republic of
Zanzibar / Tanganyika 1964 Tanzania, United Republic of
Northern Rhodesia 1964 Zambia, Republic of
Southern Rhodesia 1980 Zimbabwe, Republic of

Other place names[edit]

Personal names[edit]

Sometimes, the name change can be used to reflect a change of faith, most prominently seen in the case of Islam. (See Islamic name.)

Africanization of civil services[edit]

In some countries immediately following their independence, "Africanization" was the name given to racial policies, affirmative action intended to increase the number of indigenous Africans in civil service (which had historically been dominated by whites[3] or Asians[4]).

Localization in African languages[edit]

The term Africanization, abbreviated as the numeronym "A12n," has been applied to discussion of internationalization and localization of software and content in African languages.


  1. ^ African Successes Four Public Managers of Kenyan Rural Development David K. Leonard UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS
  2. ^ Edgar A. Gregersen (1977). Language in Africa: An Introductory Survey. CRC Press. ISBN 0-677-04380-5.
  3. ^ Adedeji, Adebayo. "Comparative strategies of economic decolonization of Africa." In Ali AlʼAmin Mazrui and Christophe Wondji, eds. Africa Since 1935. UNESCO
  4. ^ Pp.176-178. Goans of the North Atlantic: A Transnational Study of Migration, Technology Adoption, and Neoculturation across Six Generations by Clifford Pereira in Migration, technology and Transculturation: Global Perspective. Edited by Myna German and Padmini Banerjee. Center for International and Global Studies. Lindenwood University Press. St. Charles. Mo. USA

See also[edit]