This Black Naming Tradition Is Deeply Rooted In Tradition And Intention

black woman holding her baby close
Briona Lamback
February 12, 2024

The Akan people of Ghana traditionally name their children based on the day of the week they were born. It's a beautiful tradition with names, sometimes called 'soul names,' associated with intentional meanings about God, nature, and other wisdom.

In Ashanti homes, a boy born on Sunday is named Kwesi and a girl, Akosua; Tuesday is Kwabena or Kobi and Abena. These names are associated with the ocean and, sometimes, friendliness. 

Wednesday-born are Kweku and Akua and Thursday-born are Yaw or Yaa.

Children born on Friday are called Kofi, Afia, or Afua and are considered wanderers or travelers. Kwame and Ama are the names given to girls born on Saturday, and their meaning is tied to God. 

The same names vary throughout Ghana in ethnic groups like Fante. Kwabena would be Quabena in a Fante family, and Kofi would be Cuffy.

Many things across the diaspora keep us connected, and our names are no different. Akan naming traditions made it to places like Jamaica, and there are diasporic variations today. For example, Abena in Ghana could be spelled Abeni in Jamaica.

Our people have always known the power of words. No matter where we’re from, our names are full of meaning, purpose, and intention–a tradition we must cherish.

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