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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.”
This is a Swahili name used across the country for girls. It means gift.
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.
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.
From the Taita people at the coast of Kenya comes Wawuda, which means “the one who is satisfied” and is given to girls.
The ubiquitous Maasai are acknowledged to have some truly elegant names. Naserian is a name given to girls, meaning “one born during peaceful times.”
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.”
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.
This is another Swahili name given to girls all over the country, meaning mercy.
From the Luhya tribe of Western Kenya, this is a name given to girls born in the harvest season.
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.