11 Beautiful Kenyan Names and What They Mean

Kikuyu Woman |© Retlaw Snellac / Flickr
Kikuyu Woman |© Retlaw Snellac / Flickr
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