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Kikuyu Woman |© Retlaw Snellac / Flickr
Kikuyu Woman |© Retlaw Snellac / Flickr
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11 Beautiful Kenyan Names and What They Mean

Picture of Iloti Mutoka
Updated: 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.

Akinyi

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

AKINYI FINAL
Akinyi – Girl born in the early morning | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip

Zawadi

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

ZAWADI FINAL
Zawadi – Gift (Swahili) | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip

Chepkirui

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.

CHEPKITUI (1)
Chepkirui – Born while everyone else was asleep | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip

Makena

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 (1)
Makena – One who brings happiness (Meru) | © Rod Waddington / Flickr

Wawuda

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

CHEPKITUI
Wawuda – One who is satisfied (Taita) | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip

Naserian

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 (2)
Naserian – Born during peaceful times (Maasai) | Iloti Mutoka / © Culture Trip

Wawira

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 (2)
Wawira – One who is a hard worker (Kikuyu) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka

Kerubo

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 (1)
Kerubo – Girl born in the plains (Kisii) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka

Rehema

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

REHEMA
Rehema – Mercy (Swahili) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka

Nekesa

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

NEKESA (2)
Nekesa – Born during the harvest season (Luhya) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka

Kioko

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 (1)
Kioko – Born in the Morning (Kamba) | ©Culture Trip/Iloti Mutoka