11 Beautiful Kenyan Names and What They Mean

Kikuyu Woman |© Retlaw Snellac / Flickr
Kikuyu Woman |© Retlaw Snellac / Flickr
Photo of Iloti Mutoka
24 November 2017

For Kenya’s more than 43 ethnic groups, names are more than just pretty words. From celebrating the harvest season to marking times of peace, each tribe has a unique way of giving their newest members a name. Here are 11 names from across the country and what they mean.


From the Luo tribe on the shores of Lake Victoria, Akinyi is a girls name meaning “one who was born in the morning.”

Akinyi - girl born in the early morning | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip


This is a Swahili name used across the country for girls. It means gift.

Zawadi - Swahili word for gift | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip


From the Rift Valley Highlands people, the Kalenjin, comes this girl’s name meaning “one who was born while people slept.” A boy would be Kirui or Kipkirui.

Chepkirui – Born while everyone else was asleep | © Culture Trip / Iloti Mutoka | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip


The Mount Kenya region of Kenya is fertile and green, perhaps fitting that the Meru tribe who live there have a name for happiness: Makena, which translates loosely as “one who brings happiness” and is a girl’s name.

Makena - the one who brings happiness (Meru) | © Rod Waddington / Flickr


From the Taita people at the coast of Kenya comes Wawuda, which means “the one who is satisfied” and is given to girls.

Wawuda - one who is satisfied (Taita) | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip


The ubiquitous Maasai are acknowledged to have some truly elegant names. Naserian is a name given to girls, meaning “one born during peaceful times.”

Naserian - girls born during peaceful time | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip


The Kikuyu from Central Kenya are known for their industrious nature, so it’s no surprise that Wawira is a name given to girls that means “the worker.”

Wawira - One who works hard (Kikuyu) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka


The Kisii are a tribe that are in the Western part of the country. Kerubo is a name given to girls who are born in the plains.

Kerubo - A girl born in the plains (Kisii) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka


This is another Swahili name given to girls all over the country, meaning mercy.

Rehema - Swahili word for mercy. Given to girls across the country. | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka


From the Luhya tribe of Western Kenya, this is a name given to girls born in the harvest season.

Nekesa - Born in the harvest season (Luhya) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka


The Kamba, Kenya’s original long-distance traders, were a vital connection between the coast and the hinterlands in pre-colonial times. They name boys born in the morning Kioko.

Kioko - Born in the morning (Kamba) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka

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