Akan names

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. These "day names" have further meanings concerning the soul and character of the person. Middle names have considerably more variety and can refer to their birth order, twin status, or an ancestor's middle name. These names have spread throughout Ghana and Jamaica.

This tradition is shared throughout West Africa due to Akan Influence, from Benin/Dahomey (Fon) and Togo (Ewe), to the Ga, to other West Africans and throughout the African diaspora. For example, in Jamaica the following day names have been recorded: Monday, Cudjoe; Tuesday, Quabenah; 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 Friday may be conceptually related. During the 18th-19th Century, slaves from modern day Ghana in the Caribbean were referred to as Coromantees. Many of the leaders of slave rebellions had "day names" including Cuffy or Kofi, Cudjoe or Kojo, and Quamina or Kwame/Kwamina.

Most Ghanaians have at least one name from this system, even if they also have an English or Christian name. Notable figures with day names include Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

In the official orthography of the Twi language, the Ashanti 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 Ashanti, kwa- or ko- for men and a- plus -a or -wa for women). For example, among the Fante, the prefixes are kwe- and e-, respectively. Akan d̩wo is pronounced something like English Joe, but there do appear to be two sets of names for those born on Tuesday.

Day names[edit]

Day born ___ Variants Root Assoc.[1]
Male name Female name Ndyuka Jamaican[2]
Kwadwó Adwoa Kodjó, Kojo, Jojo, Cudjoe;
Adjua, Ajwoba, Adjoa, Adjowa
Kodyo, Adyuba Dwo Peace Cudjoe/Kojo/Quajo, Adjoa/Ajuba/Juba
Kwabená Abenaa, Abénaa Komlá, Komlã, Komlan,Kabenla Kobby, Ebo, Kobi Kobina;
Ablá, Ablã, Abena, Araba, Abrema
Abeni Bene Ocean Quabena, Abena/Bena
Kwakú Akua, Akúá, Akuba Koku, Kokou, Kweku, kaku, Kuuku;
Akú, Ekua
Kwaku, Akuba Wukuo Spider Quaco, Aqua/Acooba/Cooba
Yaw Yaa Yao, Yaba, Yawo, Ekow, Kow, Kwaw;
Ayawa, Baaba, Yaaba, Aba
Yaw, Yaba Ya Earth Quaw, Aba/Yaaba
Kofí Afua Koffi, Fiifi, Yoofi;
Afí, Afua, Efia, Efua
Kofi, Afiba Afi Fertility Cuffy, Afiba/Fiba
Kwámè, Kwǎmè, Ám̀ma, Ámmá Ato, Kwami, Kuwame, Kwamena, Kwamina, Komi;
Ame, Ama,Ami,Amba, Ameyo
Kwami, Amba Mene God Quame/Quamina, Ama
Kwasí Akosua Kwesi, Siisi, Akwasi, Kosi;
Akosi, Akosiwa, Así, Esi, Kwasiba.
Kwasi, Kwasiba Asi Universe Quashie, Quasheba

Twin names[edit]

There are also special names for elder and younger twins. The second twin to be born is considered the elder as they were mature enough to help their sibling out first.

Twin Male name Female name Variants
Twin Atá Ataá Atta
First born ("younger"[3] twin) Atá Pánin Ataá Pánin Panyin
Second born ("elder" twin) Atá Kúmaa Ataá Kúmaa Akwetee (m), Atsú, Kaakra, Kakraba, Kakira
Born after twins Táwia
Born after Tawia Gaddo Nyankómàgó

Birth-order names[edit]

There are also names based on the order born, the order born after twins, and the order born after remarriage.

Order Male name Female name Variants
First born Píèsíe Berko (m), Arko (m), Dede (f), Dedei (f), Abaka, Kande (f)?
Second born Mǎnu Máanu
Third born Meńsã́ Mánsã Mensah, Mansah
Fourth born Anan, Anané Annan
Fifth born Núm, Anúm
Sixth born Nsĩã́ Essien
Seventh born Asón Nsṍwaa Esson, Ansong
Eighth born Bótwe Awotwe, Awotwie
Ninth born Ákron, Nkróma Nkróma Akun, Ackon, Nkrumah
Tenth born Badú Badúwaa Bedu
Eleventh born Dúkũ
Twelfth born Dúnu
Last born Kaakyire

Special delivery[edit]

Children are also given names when delivered under special circumstances.

Circumstance Male/Female name Translation
on the field Afúom "The field"
on the road Ɔkwán "The road"
in war Bekṍe, Bedíàkṍ "war time"
happy circumstances Afiríyie "good year"
one who loves Adofo "the special one from God"
great one Agyenim "the great one from God"
after long childlessness Nyamékyε "gift from God"
premature or sickly Nyaméama "what God has given (no man can take away)"
forceful Kumi "forcefulness"
after death of father Antó "it didn't meet him"
father refuses
Obím̀pέ "nobody wants Darius"
Yεmpέw "we don't want you"


Akan names include an Akan surname (family name) along with an Akan given name.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bartle, Philip F.W. (January 1978). "Forty Days; The AkanCalendar". Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (Edinburgh University Press) 48 (1): 80–84. doi:10.2307/1158712. JSTOR 1158712. 
  2. ^ scholar.library.miami.edu
  3. ^ For the Akan, the first-born twin is considered the younger, as the elder stays behind to help the younger out.
  4. ^ a b c d "The Akans and their names". asanteman.freeservers.com. 

Additional references[edit]