Africa used to have great kingdoms ruled by famous kings who embodied wealth, wisdom, strength and courage. Even though much has been lost to colonization and modernization, Africa still has a strong attachment to her glorious past.
One piece of evidence that proves Africa’s attachment to the days of glorious kingdoms and empires is the names. African King Names are still widely popular; babies are named in honour of past kings, or in hopes that they have qualities attributed to the kings of old.
Interestingly, African names for King are more widely used in the Diaspora than on the mother continent. Here are the names of some of Africa’s greatest kings.
African Names For King
Does the image above look white to you? If not, you are going to enjoy this collection of Black King Names, and hopefully find a suitable one for your son.
Eze means King. This is the title of the Rulers of the Kingdoms in what is today Eastern Nigeria, in West Africa. However, the Eze was often also vested with spiritual powers, and seen as someone chosen by the gods. He was also mandated to carry out certain spiritual functions.
Today, Eze is mostly a Surname for people who trace their lineage to Royalty.
Kgosi is one of the most commonly mentioned names for King in Africa. It is from the Tswana language, and means “king” or “chief.” This name remains quite popular in South Africa even today, and it can be found as a first name, or Surname, especially among families who trace their lineage to Royalty.
Malik is an Arabic word or name that means “king.” The title is has many variants including Melek, Malek, Mellek, Melenek and so on. In its various forms this word has found its way into Europe, Africa, but most importantly the Middle East. As a name for Rulers, Malik has been found in Egypt, Morocco, and among some desert tribes. Melenek was the title of Ethiopian rulers of times past.
Abdul-Malik, which is a name commonly found among Muslim boys in African places where Islam is prevalent, or where they have adopted Arab tradition.
Sultan is the Arabic word for Ruler. The Origins of the word Sultan means “strength”, “authority”, “rulership.” The Word Sultan today means King, but it has a lot of spiritual significance.
The Sultan claims almost full sovereignty, but does not claim rulership over the Caliphate. This is a Muslim name or title, and is commonly found in parts of Africa heavily influenced by Islam. In Nigeria the Sultan of Sokoto is a very powerful and influential ruler. He is also the leader of Islam.
The Word Oba translates to King. Both the Ruler of the Benin Empire and the Kings of Yoruba-land are addressed by this great title, as has been the tradition for several generations.
The Obas of Benin once ruled an empire that stretched from Benin to the Coastlines of what is now Southern Nigeria, including Benin Republic, and parts of Ghana. The history of this word is the richest and farthest in Nigeria. Oba is so revered that it is unheard of for a child to be given this name. This is one African word for king that is a name still largely reserved for royalty.
Tafari is a word or name meaning King in the Ancient Kingdom of Ethiopia. The name literally translates to ‘He who inspires awe.’ Perhaps the most famous Tafari was His Imperial Majesty Haile Selasie I of Ethiopia. He was born Mekonem Ras Tafari. He is known for his victories over invading European armies, and is worshiped as a deity by the Rastas of Jamaica.
Ovie is the title of the King or Chief of the Urhobo people of the Niger Delta. Although Ovie is a word of the Urhobo language, it is also used to address the chiefs and leaders of the neighboring tribes. As a name it is quite common to find male children given this name. You can find Ovie as a first name, as a surname, and even as a nickname.
Igwe is the title of King in the Igbo Language of the Igbo People of Eastern Nigeria. This title is very similar to the Eze mentioned earlier in this post. However, the Igwe is not a spiritual title, and has very little to do with communion with the gods, or leadership in traditional worship.
It is possible to find Igwe as a name, particularly as a surname, and even that is usually among people whose ancestors were Igwes.
Haile is the Ethiopian word that translates to “power, might.” The Ethiopian Monarch Haile Selasie I was the pivotal figure in modern day Ethiopia. We have already highlighted him above. He was the central figure in the creation of the Organization of African Unity.
Mansa was the title of the Kings of Mali. Mansa Musa of Mali is considered the richest person ever to have lived, and his kingdom extended into what is now Ghana. Presently there are no Mansas, but the name Mansa is fairly common in both Ghana and Mali. If you wanted an African Royal name for your child you should strongly consider Mansa.
King Suffix or Prefix Names:
Having highlighted the words/names/titles that mean king, let us now turn our attention to the words that contain King, either as a Suffix or Prefix, and let us find out their meanings.
Chibueze is a name in the Igbo Language of West Africa, which means God is the king. The name is common among boys in Eastern Nigeria today.
Mandlekosi is in the Tswana language of South Africa. The name is derived from Nkosi which means Strength, power, and king. As a name,Mandlenkosi could mean ‘One who is Strong,’ and is popular as a name for males.
This is a Yoruba name which translates to ‘the Crown has come home’. It is usually a first name for males that come from Royal families.
Adebolu is a Yoruba name which literally translates to ‘Crown meets Mushroom.’ The mushroom in Yoruba culture connotes Life, Seed, Hope. Therefore what the name actually means is Crown meets Life, etc. This is usually a surname of Royalty or families that come from Royalty.
Owoade is a Yoruba name which translates to ‘Crown Money Wealth.’ This name could also mean Wealth of the Crown, or Money of the crown. This is usually a surname of the noble families of Yoruba-land, in Western Nigeria.
Adesua was the name of an Ancient princess of the Bini Empire. The name is the found today among women of Benin in Nigeria, as well as women in the Southwestern area.
Adeniyi is a name which translates to Crown has Value, in the Yoruba Language. The name is usually a surname among those families that trace their lineage to Royalty.
Adesewa translates to Crown is Beautiful. This name is usually found among Royal women of Southwestern Nigeria.
Many Africans in Diaspora are starting to look inward, and to reconnect with the motherland’s rich and storied history. African king names, like all African names, can help one do this.
One man called Ovie once confessed that he felt a sense of pride from his name. This world can be a harsh place. Therefore, if our names can give us a little boost then we must grab that chance for ourselves, and our children.