Everyone knows that their own name carries significant meaning, as it would be what everybody else would call you and know you as. But have you ever wondered what’s in a name, and how do you actually choose the perfect name, whether you’re looking to give yourself a new name, or about to name your baby?
Here, we celebrate some beautiful Black boy names originating from Africa itself as well as other origins! Never worry again as we guide you through a list of famous Black males to spark your inspiration, followed by some popular names and their meanings, and then a comprehensive list of A-Z Black boy names to top it all off! (👉 Click Here if you are looking for African/ African American girl names)
Famous Male Africans & The Meaning Of Their Names
There’s nowhere better to start off than by looking at these famous male Africans and what their names mean. These brave men have fought hard for what they believe in, many of them tackling issues such as apartheid and race relations. Without further ado, let’s check out these famous male Africans and the meaning of their names!
“Chinua” is a black boy name that means “God’s blessing”, and Chinua Achebe in particular has been blessed with the gift of writing, as he is a popular novelist. His 1958 novel Things Fall Apart began his path to being one of Africa’s most prominent literary figures. In his writing, he fought colonialism and Western biases, but more importantly he fought to revive literature and to retell the story of a continent that had long been told by Western voices.
A male name that originally meant “one from South Munster” (in Ireland), it has also expanded to include various meanings such as “gracious protector”, “gracious defender” and “the world” among others. Bishop Desmond Tutu was a world renowned religious leader who fought hard against apartheid, xenophobic violence in South Africa and other types of violence against human beings, regardless of race. He was also the winner of the Nobel Peace Price in 1984.
“Olusegun” is an African male name that means “God is Victorious”. Olusegun Obasanjo was Nigeria’s former army general, and he became head of state after that not once, but twice from 1976 to 1979, and more recently from 1999-2007. The date he was sworn in as the first elected civilian head of state of Nigeria after 16 years of military rule is now commemorated as Democracy Day and is a public holiday in Nigeria: 29th May. Under his administration, he initiated and executed projects that improved lives in Nigeria irrespective of their status.
An African name that means “born on a Saturday”, Kwame Nkrumah was the first president of Ghana, who freed his country from Great Britain’s rule. An anti-colonialist who trained to be a teacher, Kwame founded the Convention People’s Party (CPP). He was thrown into jail at some point, but was freed when CPP won the 1951 elections in order to form the government. A firm believer in the liberation of all Africans, he was overthrown by the military in 1966.
Literally meaning the “son of Neil”, the name “Nelson” otherwise means “son of the champion”. Arguably one of the most famous Africans ever, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail, and was the first democratically elected president of South Africa after his release. During his time in jail, he didn’t give his fight up against apartheid, but instead organised political education classes! He became active in fighting for equal rights for everybody in South Africa when the National Party which supported racism came to power.
Well, “Shaka” is an African male name that literally means “intestinal beetle” in its native Zulu, but don’t let that fool you! Shaka was a famous African Zulu king and warrior, known for his brutality as much as his military genius. He was 26 when his father the Zulu chief died and left Shaka’s brother as king. He then killed his brother and assumed the throne. Ruthless he may be, but he also intelligently trained his warriors in special military tactics and modern weapons, and Zulu rose to be a powerful nation under his rule. His motto? “Death or Victory”.
“Paul” is a male name that means “small” or “humble”. In 1994, Rwanda was deep in genocide and the world could only sit back and watch in horror. After more than a million deaths, Paul Kagame, a son of Rwanda, stepped in and saved his country from further damage. By defeating Hutu extremist forces and by creating a lasting peace, co-existence and economic prosperity, Paul slowly stabilised Rwanda. Today, it is also known as Africa’s “biggest success story”.
A black male name that means “male child born on a Friday”, Kofi was the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations and the first black person to hold this title from 1997-2007. He was also credited with the creation of the Global AIDS and Health Fund, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. A peaceful man by nature, he influenced world politics in a positive manner and worked hard to resolve conflicts between nations peacefully as well.
The name “Kingsley” means “from the king’s wood/meadow”, and Kingsley Holgate in particular loved the great outdoors, as you may have seen him on Nat Geo before. An avid explorer and humanitarian, Kingsley used his travels to support rural communities by distributing mosquito nets to pregnant mother and children below the age of 5, as well as spectacles to those who could not get access to optical services. His most successful adventure was The Outside Edge, in which he spent 448 days going through 33 countries, outlining Africa and promoting Malaria prevention.
We really couldn’t get much, if any, information regarding the name “Sedick”, but rest assured that it is an uncommon and unique name! Sedick Isaacs was one of the lesser-known heroes in the fight against apartheid. In 1964, he was thrown into jail on Robben Island for 12 years, but his sentence was increased when he was found operating a pirated radio, keeping inmates informed of current events. During his time there, he organised sporting activities to help keep morale up. In fact, he was one of the founders of the Makata Football Association!
Famous Male African Americans & The Meaning Of Their Names
Next up are those who fought similar issues, but in a different continent. They were some “firsts” in the US, and made great strides in advocating for equal rights. Here are some famous male African Americans and the meaning of their names, making their homeland and their current country proud!
“Thurgood” is a male name after the old Norse god of thunder. A civil rights advocate, Thurgood Marshall was also the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the US from 1967-1991. He was also legal counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and fought against Jim Crow laws which enforced racial isolation in the southern parts of US.
Martin Luther King Jr.
A male name meaning “warrior” or “warlike”, Martin Luther King Jr. was exactly that in his fight to improve race relations. An American Baptist minister and activist who became a pivotal figure in the non-violent civil rights movement, he is fervently remembered for his powerful speeches which aimed to bring about a united society regardless of race, the most well-known of which is probably “I Have A Dream”.
Derived from Ancient Egypt, “Ta-Nehisi” is a translation for Nubia, a region along the Nile river. Today, Ta-Nehisi is one of the highest profile African American writers and journalists currently writing and has written for major publications such as The New York Times Magazine and The Washington Post. Besides writing about cultural, social and political issues for The Atlantic, did you know that he is also the senior editor for Marvel’s Black Panther comics?
The male name “Kobe” differs greatly in its meanings; the African name means “tortoise”, whereas the Japanese name means “God’s door”. Kobe Bryant is a former professional basketball player, having entered the National Basketball Association directly from high school. He has played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and also holds the record of the second-highest points scored in a single game among all NBA players.
“Barack” is a male name that means “blessing”. The 44th US President as well as the first ever US president of African origin, Barack Obama served 2 terms as President, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Under his administration, he implemented health care reform and spoke about the need for Americans to remain united, despite differences of political opinion.
A singer, songwriter, musician, record producer and multi-instrumentalist, Stevie Wonder was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins. “Stevie” is a male name that means “crown” or “garland”, and Stevie Wonder is considered to be one of the most critically and commercially successful musical producers of the late 20th century. Blind from birth, he didn’t let that stop him from making music, and had released his first album at the age of 12. Furthermore, he is also known for writing and performing political songs, and has won a whopping 21 Grammy Awards.
“Morgan” is a male name meaning “sea chief”. However, Morgan Freeman had nothing to do with the sea; he is an actor, producer and narrator instead. Known his authoritative voice and calm demeanour and his playing of similar characters, he has now become one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. In 2005, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Million Dollar Baby.
The name “Frederick” actually means “peaceful ruler”, but Frederick Douglass was far from a ruler – he was in fact a former slave. A leading figurehead in the anti-slavery movement, Frederick was one of the most prominent African American leaders of the 19th century. In particular, his autobiography of life as a slave and his speeches denouncing slavery were influential in shaping public opinion.
The male name “Jesse” means “gift” or “wealthy”. Jesse Owens specialised in sprints and the long jump, and was a 4-time Olympic gold medalist at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Also, at the 1935 By Ten Championships, he set a record for the long jump event which stood for almost 28 years before someone else broke it. Since 1981, the year’s best track and field athlete is awarded with the Jesse Owens Award, which is regarded as USA Track and Field’s greatest honour.
“Michael” is a rhetorical question meaning “who is like God?” (implying that no one is like God), and is one of the archangels in Hebrew tradition. One of the most well-known people to have walked this earth, Michael Jackson was also known as the “King of Pop” and was once recognised as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time by the Guinness World Records. Till today, people still pay tribute to him under a large tree right outside the Kempinski Hotel in Budapest, where he once stayed at.
Popular Black Boy Names In Africa & Their Meanings
Coming up is a list of popular Black boy names in Africa and their meanings. These Black names originate from Africa, and have traditional meanings. Whichever you choose, rest assured that it will be an authentic African name!
- Zane: Well-born, noble
- Taj: Exalted
- Shaka: Name of the Zulu tribal leader sometimes compared to Attila the Hun
- Issa: God is salvation
- Tau: Lion
- Omari: God the highest
- Kellan: Powerful
- Ade: Royal
- Kwame: Born on Saturday
- Salim: Peaceful
- Jabari: Fearless, brave
- Kofi: Born on Friday
- Abayomi: Brings great joy
- Abiola: Born in wealth
- Jamir: Highly good-looking, admired and adored
- Tumelo: Belief
- Ohin: Chief
- Eshe: Life
- Dumaka: Helping hand
- Addo: King of the road
Popular African American Boy Names & Their Meanings
On another side of the world, here are some popular African American boy names and their meanings. More modernised and diverse than their traditional African counterparts, they are nevertheless great choices for naming yourself/your baby boy!
- Calvin: Little bald one
- Caleb: Devotion to God
- Jaylen: Jaybird
- Luther: People’s warrior
- Nathan: Gift from God
- Noah: Comfort or rest
- Xavier: New house
- Pierre: Rock or stone
- Gabriel: God is my strength
- Elijah: God is powerful
- Craig: From the rocks
- Anthony: Priceless
- Brandon: From the beacon hill
- Christopher: To carry (Christ in one’s heart)
- Justin: Just, fair, righteous
- Joshua: Jehovah is help, God is salvation
- Zion: The promised land
- Michael: One of the seven archangels, the one closest to God
- Matthew: Gift from God
- Tyler: Occupational name for a tile or brick maker/layer
Black Boy Names Starting From A-Z
And finally, here is our list of Black boy names starting from A-Z for your reference! We’ve added in a mix of both African names as well as African American names, so you can pick and choose the one that best appeals to you. Have fun going through these Black boy names!
Names Starting From A
Names Starting From B
Names Starting From C
Names Starting From D
- De Shea
Names Starting From E
Names Starting From F
Names Starting From G
Names Starting From H
Names Starting From I
Names Starting From J
Names Starting From K
Names Starting From L
Names Starting From M
Names Starting From N
Names Starting From O
Names Starting From P
Names Starting From Q
Names Starting From R
Names Starting From S
Names Starting From T
Names Starting From W
Names Starting From X
Names Starting From Y
Names Starting From Z
Tips On Choosing A Black Boy Name
That was a pretty long list, wasn’t it? If you’re looking to select a name, we have a few handy tips on choosing a Black boy name. First, narrow down your top 5-10 favourite names, and then find out their meanings if you haven’t already. Which one appeals to you the most? If you’re choosing a name for your new baby boy, you can do this with your partner. What does your baby boy mean to you, or what do you want to name him after?
If you’re choosing a name for yourself, it’s even easier – just go with the one that appeals to you the most. You can even tweak the spellings of these names! Above all, just go with your heart, and you can’t go wrong!
Which Black boy names are your favourite, and did you pick any out from this list? Maybe you have more names to suggest to us?
We’d love to hear them, so do share them with us in the comments below!