50 Unique South African Names and the Meanings for Males and Females

In Africa, a NAME is not just nomenclature or a random connotation. When a child is born, the name given to that child is a scroll containing both the history of the child and the circumstances surrounding his or her conception and birth. It is a widely practiced culture in Africa, that a child’s name must be of significance because it is strongly believed that names play a huge role in the Destiny and future of a child. African names are identity symbols, storytellers, and harbingers of history and identity. Shakespeare once asked; “what is in a name”, and in Africa, the answer is “All things.” In South Africa, names are records of heritage and family lineages; South African names carry varying meanings and significance. Each name bringing with it, a particular history.

What is the Significance Of South African Names?

Amongst the Setswana people of South Africa, there is a strong matriarchal influence on the choice of a child’s name, amongst the Zulus, names are usually Patronymical with sons having names that reflect who their father is, with a prefix “Ka”. For example, Misuzulu KaZwelithini means Misuzulu, son of Zwelithini.

South African names carry important information about the origin of the bearer, reflecting towards tribe, values, context, gender as well as reminders of morals and expectations. For example, if a Sotho couple has been married for a while without a child and then they finally have a child after enduring questioning remarks from relatives and friends, the child could be named “Karabo” which means Answer, pointing to the fact that the Child is an answer to all who have been waiting for him/her.

No matter how obvious the meaning of a South African name is, there is always a deeper meaning. For example, the Sotho name “Lerato” which means Love, could carry the history of the parent’s love life. Also, most South African names are Gender Neutral or Unisex, suitable for both males and females.

50 South African Names From Different Tribes In The Country And Their Meanings

South Africa is home to diverse ethnic groups and tribes, however, some ethnic groups in South Africa share common names due to linguistic relativity, plus, the native languages in South Africa are characterized by a clicking sound, especially among the Zulu and Xhosa tribes, so you should expect that a lot of South African names are pronounced with a clicking sound and not how they are actually written. Also South African Names are influenced by the European Settlers in South African History. Nevertheless, every name is a crown, given by a parent to the bearer to wear with pride and reflect on the meaning of their names. Here is a list of South African names you can learn a lot from and maybe consider naming your child some of them even if you are not South African.

 

1. Andile

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning:  They have increased/multiplied. A person named Andile could be so named to recognize a specific progression or increase in the family, or to recognize the birth of an additional child to the family’s lineage.
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele Tribes
  • Pronunciation: ahn-dee-le

2. Amahle

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Beauty/The Beautiful One
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: ah-mah-shle

3. Bongani

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Grateful/Thankful (A person named Bongani may be so named as a reminder or gratitude for an event surrounding his birth or for his actual birth into the family).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: bon-gah-nee

4. Boitumelo

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Joy
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Tswana People
  • Pronunciation: boo-eee-TU-meh-loh

5. Chipo

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Gift
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Shona Tribe
  • Pronunciation: chee-poh

6. Chenzira

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Born on the road (A person bearing Chenzira may be so named because his mother gave birth to him on a journey).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Shona Tribe
  • Pronunciation: shen-zee-rah

7. Dipuo

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Rumors/Talks (A person bearing the name Dipuo could be so named because she was born during a time when her family was the topic of rumors and gossips).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Sotho and Tswana Tribes
  • Pronunciation: dee-pu-wo

8. Dumisani ( Dumi)

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Praise
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Zulu and Ndebele Tribes
  • Pronunciation: doo-mee-sah-niy

9. Enzokuhle

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: To do good/To Do Great (The Name Enzokuhle is a form of reminder to the bearer to always do good and great things).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: en-Zoh-kuh- shle

10. Elethu/ Gugulethu

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: Our Hope/Pride
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Xhosa, Zulu, and Ndebele Tribes
  • Pronunciation: eh-leh-tuu, guu-guu-leh-tuu

11. Faniswa

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: One who looks like me.
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: faa-nee-swa

12. Fungai

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: To Think or Judge (The Name Fungai is a form of reminder to the bearer to always make the right decisions).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Shona Tribe
  • Pronunciation: fun-gah-yi

13. Gcobisa

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: To Bring Joy/Happiness
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Zulu, Xhosa Tribes
  • Pronunciation: It is pronounced with a click, so it sounds like “qo-bee-sa.”

14. Gcina

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: The Last One (People who bear Gcina are usually the lastborns of the family).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Xhosa, Zulu Tribes.
  • Pronunciation: cee-naa

15. Humbelani

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: To Ask
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Tshivenda Tribe
  • Pronunciation: um-beh-lah-ni

16. Hangawani

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: To Forget (The Name Hangwani could be given as a form of consolation of a previous loss).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Tshivenda Tribe
  • Pronunciation: ahn-gua-nee

17. Itumeleng

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: To Be happy
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Tswana Tribe
  • Pronunciation: ee-too-meh-leng

18. Itai

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: To act, do, perform as you will.
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among The Shona Tribe
  • Pronunciation: ee-taa-yi

50 Unique South African Names and the Meanings for Males and Females

19. Jabulani

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Rejoice (In the year 2020, to commemorate the FIFA World Cup which took place in South Africa, Adidas manufactured a Soccer Ball called JABULANI)
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: Jah-boo-LAH-nee

20. Jongikhaya

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Look after your home (This is a name mostly given to firstborns or only children).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: Jon-gee-kah-yah

21. Konanani

  • Best Suited For: Male and female
  • Meaning: To Be Good/Unite
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Tshivenda Tribe
  • Pronunciation: Koh-nah-ni

22. Khangwelo

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: Forgiveness
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Tshivenda Tribe
  • Pronunciation: Kaan-gue-loh

23. Lindiwe

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Waited for (Usually given to a child born after years of waiting).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: leen-di-weh

24. Lufuno

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Love
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Tshivenda Tribe
  • Pronunciation: luh-fuh-noh

25. Makalo

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Surprise 
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Sotho Tribe
  • Pronunciation: mah-kah-lo

26. Matšeliso

  • Best Suited For: Male and female
  • Meaning: Consolation (usually given to a child born after a previous loss).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Sotho Tribe
  • Pronunciation: mah-tshe-lee-soh

27. Ntsoaki

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Girl among boys  (usually given to an only daughter among male siblings).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Sotho Tribe
  • Pronunciation: uhn-tso-ah-kee

28. Nkosana

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Son of a King/Prince.
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: Uhn-koh-sah-nah

29. Oratile

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: Loved, God Loved
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Tswana Tribe
  • Pronunciation: ora-TEE-le

30. Odwa

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Independent, Only (Mostly given to an only son).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: O-dua

31. Puleng

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: In the Rain/ Out in the Rain (The name Puleng is usually given to a child born on a rainy day).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: pu-LEng

32. Palesa

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Flower
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Sotho Tribe
  • Pronunciation: pa-LEH-sah

33. Qenehelo

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Pity, sympathy, compassion
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Sotho Tribe
  • Pronunciation: qe-neh-heh-lo

34. Qhonqholotsane

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: A Traditional Name
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Sotho Tribe
  • Pronunciation: qon-qoh-loh-tsa-neh

35. Rofhiwa

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: Blessing/We are blessed/We are Given.
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Tshivenda Tribe
  • Pronunciation: roh-fee-wah

36. Rendani

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Give Praise
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Tshivenda Tribe
  • Pronunciation: ren-dah-nee

37. Simba

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Strength, Power
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Shona Tribe
  • Pronunciation: seem-bah

38. Sibusisiwe

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: We are blessed
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Ndebele Tribe
  • Pronunciation: see-boo-see-see-weh

39. Thabisa

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: Bring Joy
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: tha-bee-sah

40. Thabani

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Be Happy
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Zulu and Ndebele Tribes.
  • Pronunciation: tha-bah-nee

41. Unathi

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: With us (he or she is with us).
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: Oo-nah-tee

42. Uyanda

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: The House/Family is increasing/growing.
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: Oo-yan-dah

43. Vusumzi

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Rebuild the home
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: vuu-zum-zee

44. Vuyo

  • Best Suited For: Male and Female
  • Meaning: Be Happy/ Happiness
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribe
  • Pronunciation: vuu-yor

45. Wandile

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Extra/Increase
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa and Zulu Tribes
  • Pronunciation: wan-dee-leh

46. Xolani

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Peace
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa and Zulu Tribes
  • Pronunciation: zoh-lah-nee

47. Xabiso

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Value
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Zulu and Xhosa Tribes
  • Pronunciation: zah-bee-soh

48. Yomelala

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Be strong
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Xhosa Tribes
  • Pronunciation: yoh-meh-laa-laa

49. Zwelethu

  • Best Suited For: Male
  • Meaning: Our Land
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: zu-eh-leh-tu

50. Zenzile

  • Best Suited For: Female
  • Meaning: You are responsible for what you have become.
  • Origin: Bantu
  • Most Popular Among: The Zulu Tribe
  • Pronunciation: zen-zee-leh

Five Most Common South African Names In Three Dominant Tribes Of South Africa

The Republic Of South Africa is populated by the Bantu People, as they migrated from West Africa from around 1000 BCE. Therefore all the major tribes of South Africa are subgroups of the Bantu people. However, the Zulu, Xhosa, and Sotho tribes are the three major tribes in south Africa.

50 Unique South African Names and the Meanings for Males and Females

Five Common Names For The Xhosa  In South Africa

1. Kungawo- Kungawo is a popular/common name chose Male name in South Africa. It means “Power of God”

2. Buhle- This is a common Xhosa female name in South Africa. It means “Beauty”

3. Anathi- Anathi is a Xhosa unisex name, suitable for both boys and girls. It means “they are with us”

4. Nceba- Nceba is another common Xhosa name for females in South Africa. It means “Mercy”

5. Themba- This is a popular xhosa male name. It means “Hope/Trust”

Five Common Names For Zulus In South Africa

1. Enzokhule- This is a common Zulu name in South Africa. It is suitable for both males and females and means “Do well or Do Great or Do Good Things.”

2. Lubanzi- Lubanzi is a common Zulu male name that means “Deep love or Love.”

3. Amahle- This is a common Zulu name for females in South Africa. It means “Beautiful one.”

4. Thadie- This is another common name for females in the Zulu tribe. It means “loved one.”

5. Siyabonga- This is also another common male Zulu name which means “Thank you.”

50 Unique South African Names and the Meanings for Males and Females

Five Common Names For The Sotho In South Africa

 1. Lesedi- is a common female name among the Sotho people in South Africa. It means “Light.”

2. Mpho- Mpho means “Gift” and it is a very common Sotho Male Name in South Africa.

3. Lethabo- This is a unisex Sotho name. It means “happiness or Joy.”

4. Sesi- This is also a common female Sotho Name. It means “sister.”

5. Khosi- Khosi means “king” and it is a common name among the Sotho people.

 

Ada
Ada is a Writer, professional actor for stage and film, TV/Radio host and a Mental Health Counselor.
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