Ghanaian Last Names

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My coworker today asked if I knew what my last name meant. I told her I have no idea about my married name, but told her what my maiden name meant.

Now I am curious, is there someplace I can go to find out what my last name means and how common it is? My husband always laughs at me when I ask such silly questions....

My maiden name was apparently a very common French last name.....

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Posted (edited) · Report post

i don't know of such a place but some here might know. what's your last name?

geez, now that you asked i don't think i know what my own last name mean. what a shame.

by ghananian tradition, you get name based on your birth day so if you don't know what your last name means: pick a new one from the list below:

Female/Male

Monday - Adwoa/Kwadwo

Tuesday - Abena/Kwabina

Wednesday - Akua/Kwaku

Thursday - Yaa/Yaw

Friday - Afua/Kofi

Saturday - Ama/Kwame

Sunday - Akosua/Akwasi

Edited by thinfox

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Posted · Report post

Most Ghanaian surnames have meanings. They were mostly nicknames and usually an appellation that become shortened with time. Mine translates literally as 'the tree by the road side'.

The deep meaning is that the tree by the road side in the village setting provides needed shade for all passerbys. This people tend to be farmers on their way from their farms and would typically strike and leave their cutlasses in this same tree till they are about to go on their way. This way, this tree is left with soo many cutlass 'wounds' although it provided shade and comfort to all without any discrimination.

My family history has it that my great great grandfather actually 'bought' the name from a friend he met at a social gathering whose name it was originally. Interestingly, that friend actually kept his end of the bargain by not calling himself by that name anymore.

A little history for you RD.

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Posted · Report post

Paapa, lovely story, I can now guess your Family Name.

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Posted · Report post

lol! it is a real shame bout our surnames - i once asked ma dad and he started going through some long line of history and still didnt get to the point - rather who has the name - most ghanains havnt even heard of my surname before

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Posted · Report post

Interesting topic.

RD, why does your husband laugh it off when you ask about the meaning of his name? I don't think its silly.

Like Goody said, they all have meanings and yes, some are variations of nicknames.

My maiden name is a derivation of the 'day name' of my great, great grandfather (see Thinfox's list above).

The colonial masters spelt the name the way they could pronounce it, and it stuck.

Needless to say, my great grandfather adopted this variation and passed the name on to his descendants.

Another point you have to realise is, the concept of "family names" is relatively new in Ghana. This is a legacy from colonial times.

Going back a few generations, everyone went by their given name. You didn't have to take on your dad's name as well.

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Posted · Report post

Thank you, Papa. I did enjoy reading this - my husband didn't know what his name meant. Funny, my maiden name had to do with a tree as well!

I noticed a lot of Ghanaian names are hyphenated with Adu, Amo, Opoku, Osei, etc. so I was just curious - I know some English names such as Davidson meant the son of David or something like that. My ex said his father had shortened their last name.

sorry but am too afraid to put my name out there - been warned about that already.

Thank you for your responses, I was actually coming back today to delete this topic - glad I didn't!

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Posted · Report post

Very Interesting Karebo. I never taught about it this way. -- the thing about family names and given names.

I once ask my father what his given name was and he never told me. Apparently he did not like it. So he made up a his first two names and also added the family name.

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Posted · Report post

Interesting topic.

RD, why does your husband laugh it off when you ask about the meaning of his name? I don't think its silly.

Like Goody said, they all have meanings and yes, some are variations of nicknames.

My maiden name is a derivation of the 'day name' of my great, great grandfather (see Thinfox's list above).

The colonial masters spelt the name the way they could pronounce it, and it stuck.

Needless to say, my great grandfather adopted this variation and passed the name on to his descendants.

Another point you have to realise is, the concept of "family names" is relatively new in Ghana. This is a legacy from colonial times.

Going back a few generations, everyone went by their given name. You didn't have to take on your dad's name as well.

My husband laughs at me whenever I ask what does this or that mean and then I try to pronounce it correctly. He doesn't laugh as in demeaning, but surprised I guess that I would try? I know whenever I thanked anyone in Ghana, they always had a surprised expression, a little laugh with a "hey" thrown in.

I had no idea last names were from colonial occupation. I can't imagine how many Abena's, Adjoa's, Akua's, Kofi's, Kwame's, etc. there are!

And then I met a couple of young men who went by the nickname "Dada" as well!

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I had no idea last names were from colonial occupation.  I can't imagine how many Abena's, Adjoa's, Akua's, Kofi's, Kwame's, etc. there are! 

And then I met a couple of young men who went by the nickname "Dada" as well!

Not all surnames are from colonial occupation.

In Ghanian tradition or to be more specific in areas that I know of and especially where my parents and I come from there has been a method of naming hundreds of years before the white men (colonisation) came which is still in action to date.

For example:

First name

Nana Korbia - (paternal grandmothers name, her grandmothers, her grandmothers)

Second name

Abena - (day name)

Surname

Agyeman (Surname) handed down from father to son and so on and that shows which tribe, area or house/family you come from.

There are other examples which when you heard the persons name you would have an idea of which number child they were as in 1st daughter, 3rd son etc and would also give an indication of which tribe or clan they were from.

There are other examples but this is a kind of a summary of names being given and why.

Surnames are a bit tricky now as with the world becoming a global village you could find an Agyeman in China and it sould be a marriage name if she holds onto the name for her sons and they hoold onto that same surname for their sons even when the Ghanian blood becomes dilute in China there will be Agyemans there.

I amy come back to this if I have more time today.

Edited by BlueHue

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Posted · Report post

Oh I forgot to mention that she may say her name is Magdalene Nana Korbia Agyeman

Which means she is also a Catholic.

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Posted · Report post

I know several men who have the first name Nana - so it's a unisex name?

So you know she is Catholic from her first name?

When people see my married name, they assume I am married to a man of Japanese descent. They have asked if he has Japanese ancestors. Do you think someone could guess it by this clue?

This is all very interesting and educational to me. I would love to do a cultural study in Ghana and collect data on all the rich and intricate histories of names. Too bad I couldn't get a grant so I could live there for at least a year and gain a better understanding and appreciation for the culture (now that I am no longer so naive).

Thank you for responding.

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Posted · Report post

Interesting...I never saw this thread

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Posted · Report post

japanese?

I think i can guess it...

you're married to

Dr. Rokoto

or

Mr Sackey

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Posted · Report post

i have a double barrelled surname.

the first part I think is just from the Ashanti royal house...

the second part was actually made up by my great,great, great grandfather. He was apparently given 3 different names on top of his day name and his father's name. He decided that it was too long but he wanted to pass it on to his son because they meant a lot to him. So he cut them short, he took the first 2 letters from the first one, the middle 3 from the second and the last 2 from the last... Over the years parts of the family have added letters here and there.. but my father kept the original...

I guess that surname means 3 different things...

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Karebo, i think by your statement you are talking of the Fante's and how they tried to change thier names or modify thier Akan names and make it more anglo. that statement is not too true please research into that. I know this because i come from a royal family that is traced back over a long lineage and this is documented not on paper but through masonary, woven cloth patterns and a whole lot of other means. Family names have always been around in ghanaian Culture.

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Posted · Report post

Sarpong

Agyeman

Adanu

Appiah

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Posted · Report post

japanese?

I think i can guess it...

you're married to

Dr. Rokoto

or

Mr Sackey

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

ok, Mr. Sackey? that's so not Japanese! :smilie_laugh:

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Posted · Report post

i don't know of such a place but some here might know. what's your last name?

geez, now that you asked i don't think i know what my own last name mean. what a shame.

by ghananian tradition, you get name based on your birth day so if you don't know what your last name means: pick a new one from the list below:

                  Female/Male

Monday  - Adwoa/Kwadwo

Tuesday - Abena/Kwabina

Wednesday - Akua/Kwaku

Thursday - Yaa/Yaw

Friday - Afua/Kofi

Saturday - Ama/Kwame

Sunday -  Akosua/Akwasi

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

dude... she's married to a ghanaian you think she wouldnt know this by now?

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Posted · Report post

so japanese... think japanese rice beer.

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Posted · Report post

My coworker today asked if I knew what my last name meant. I told her I have no idea about my married name, but told her what my maiden name meant.

Now I am curious, is there someplace I can go to find out what my last name means and how common it is? My husband always laughs at me when I ask such silly questions....

My maiden name was apparently a very common French last name.....

:duel: u are gay

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Posted · Report post

it is never true that surname was handed over from father to son in the years

before. you are given a name at birth and that becomes your name till death,

but if you are lucky or unlucky you get a nickname that sticks to you.

an example is my fathers name is Kofi Sarpong and he decides to name me

after his uncle because he is a successful farmer, i get his name Kwaku Agyei.

it can even happen that i was not born on wednesday.

you can verify this with the birth date of older people and youwill see what i

mean. we starterd using our father's surname with the coming of the abrofo

and even then we sometimes make it compound like Kwaku Agyei-Sarpong.

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Kwame Nkrumah was not born on Saturday. His original name was Kofi Mbia. In some Akan cultures, its normal for people to be given the entire name of some family member that may not reflect the actual day name of that person.

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Kwame Nkrumah was not born on Saturday. His original name was Kofi Mbia. In some Akan cultures, its normal for people to be given the entire name of some family member that may not reflect the actual day name of that person.

point of correction.

Kwame Nkrumah was named Francis Kofi Nwia Ngonlomah

http://www.ghana.com/republic/presidents/nkrumah.html

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Posted (edited) · Report post

it is never true that surname was handed over from father to son in the years

before. you are given a name at birth and that becomes your name till death,

but if you are lucky or unlucky you get a nickname that sticks to you.

an example is my fathers name is Kofi Sarpong and he decides to name me

after his uncle because he is a successful farmer, i get his name Kwaku Agyei.

it can even happen that i was not born on wednesday.

you can verify this with the birth date of older people and youwill see what i

mean. we starterd using our father's surname with the coming of the abrofo

and even then we sometimes make it compound like Kwaku Agyei-Sarpong.

Ewiase, that's very interesting.

I am related to a family named Sarpong by marriage. :lol:

Edited by ReggaeDancer

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