Beautiful South African Names and What They Mean

Sam Peet /
Sam Peet / | © Culture Trip

South Africa boasts a variety of cultures, traditions and languages, and parents often choose to name their children according to these distinctions. Here are some of the most beautiful African names and what they mean.

The country’s most popular names are a result of a rich history and have been influenced by everything, from the European settlers to traditional Xhosa and Zulu inhabitants.


Female | Amahle, meaning “the beautiful one”, is a popular Zulu name and is pronounced Ah-MAH-she.


Female | Annika is an Afrikaans name meaning “grace” and is the Swedish diminutive of Anna. Pronounced AHN-nee-kah.


Male | Arno, an Afrikaans name from Germanic origin, means “eagle” and is pronounced AR-nou.

Tawny Eagle, South Africa


Female | Elna is an Afrikaans name meaning “beloved” and is derivative from the Swedish Elin and the Danish and Dutch Helena. Pronounce it ÊLL-nah.


Male | An Afrikaans name from the Old German Frederick, Frederich means “peaceful ruler”. Pronounce it FRED-e-rich.


Female | Imka, meaning “water”, is an Afrikaans name of Frisian derivative. Pronounce it IEM-ka.

Mkuze game reserve, South Africa


Male | Jabulani, a Zulu name often shortened to Jabu, means “rejoice” and is pronounced Jah-boo-LAH-nee.


Female | Kaya means “restful place” and is a popular Zulu name. Pronounce it KAH-yah.


Female | Kholwa is a name used in both the Zulu and Ndebele cultures and means “believe”. The name is pronounced Col-u-WHA.


Female | Lerato is a Sotho name meaning “love” and is pronounced LE-raa-too.


Female | Lindiwe is a Zulu name that means “waited for” and is pronounced LIN-dee-wê.


Male | Luan is an Afrikaans name meaning “lion” and is pronounced LU-han.

A white lion, South Africa


Male | Mandla is a popular Zulu name meaning “strength”. Pronounce it MAN-dhla.


Female | Mieke is a popular Afrikaans name meaning “water” and is derived from Dutch. Pronounce it MY-khu.


Unisex | Mpho is a unisex name of Tswana origin meaning “gift”. Pronounce it M-phô.


Unisex | Oratile is a unisex name meaning “origin” and is pronounced O-ra-TEE-lê.


Female | Thabisa is a Zulu name meaning “to bring joy” and is pronounced Tha-BEE-sa.

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