Popular Swahili names for your kids

Popular Swahili names for your kids

We all love popular Swahili names. Not only are they musical, they are also loaded with meaning.

We all love popular Swahili names. Not only are they musical, they are also loaded with meaning. The most popular Swahili names are typical conversation starters. When you hear names like Barack (meaning blessing) or Zalika (which means the one who was born well), you can’t help but chat about the name. Swahili names are perfect for parents who want their children to bear deep, meaningful and peculiar names.

popular swahili names

But where do these popular Swahili names originate from?

Kiswahili (popularly known as Swahili) is the language from which Swahili names are coined. Swahili is one of the Bantu languages. It is the foremost lingua franca of most inhabitants of the African Great Lakes region, East and South Africa. Again, this eclectic language is an important lingua franca in Burundi, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and the DRC.

The history of Swahili names

By now, you’ve probably figured out that Swahili is the most spoken language in Africa. There are approximately one hundred million Swahili speakers in the world.
Before you adopt one of the popular Swahili names, take note of this short history 101 lesson. A huge part of the Kiswahili vocabulary is framed from Arabic.

According to historical records, many Arabs travelled to and traded in parts of East and South Africa. As the people mixed, they began to adopt some Arabic vocabulary as well as Arabic (Islamic) religion.

Now that you know the history of those fantastic Swahili names, let’s see a list of suggestions.

Most popular Swahili names you should consider adopting for your children

Akila          Well read, or knowledgeable
Amani      Aspirations or Desires
Amira       Royal princess
Aneesa      The one who is chaste, pure and unspoiled
Anisa          Jovial or friendly
Asante      Thank you (an expression of gratitude to God or man)

Alix            Defending men
Aza            Strong
Ashia         Life
Asiya         Caregiver or nurse
Asma         Prestige
Asya          Resurrection
Atiya         Gift
Aziza         Powerful

Barack       Blessing
Bakari        Promising person (someone who is full of potential)
Barika        Blossom, excel and succeed
Binti           Daughter

Chaniya     Rich or wealthy
Chane        The one with a heart that’s as strong as an oak tree.


Emani        Faith

Fatou        Abstinence
Fatima      To abstain

Hassani      Beautiful
Hafsa          Discerning (the one who has good judgment)
Hiba            Gift
Halima       Gentle
Hodari       Powerful or strong

Ila               Earth
Imani         Faith
Issa             God is my salvation
Itanya         Hope
Imarisha    Stabilize

Jafari              Creek
Johannes       God is gracious
Jela                 The father suffers during wife’s his labor
Jata                 Heavenly star
Jamila            Beautiful, gorgeous or elegant
Jelani             Strong
Jina                Born with leadership skills, or triumphant
Jaleel              Noble
Jabari            Comfort
Jahaira          Dignified
Juma              Born on a Friday
Jamba            A hero
Jaha                Dignity
Julisha           Advisor (the one who gives advice)
Jiona               To beam proudly or to glow with pride

popular swahili names

Khari or Khary      Improved or better
Kamaria                  Bright as the moon
Kesi                          Born when father was in trouble
Kia                            Christian
Karima                    Generous
Kanene                    Important matter or person
Kaluwa                    The forgotten person
Kanika                     Black cloth

Lakeisha                 Joyful
Latifa                      Gentle and kind
Lela                         Night

Msia                       Wise man
Mune                     The rules (or the laws)
Muraty                   Friend
Mwanahamisi      Born on a Thursday
Mwamini               Honest, truthful or trustworthy
Mzuzi                     creative (or the inventor)

Naima                   Tranquil
Nia                         Bright
Nour                      Light
Neema                  Born during a prosperous period
Nigesa                  Born during the harvest season

Okapi                   Related to the giraffe
Oyana                  Uplift
Onyesha              clear or sight
Otesha                 Till the soil or cultivate the earth

Penda                    (A variation of Penha) Beloved

Rahma                  Compassion

Simba                  Like a lion
Shani                   Fantastic Woman
Samira                Pleasant companion
Sefu                     Sword
Safiri                   Journey

Tamu             Sweet
Taraji            Aspiration
Taji               Crown

Ujana           Youth

Yusra            Wealth or riches

Zaida               Increasing
Zuri                 Beautiful (or my rock)
Zarina             Pure gold
Zakia               Smart or clever

Final thoughts on popular Swahili names

Now that you have a list of popular Swahili names, your journey is almost complete. The next step will be choosing a name that fits your preferred guidelines. Whatever your preference, you will definitely find something you love.

Which names do you love best and why?

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Written by

Julie Adeboye