Zambian names are usually given because of the meaning they convey. You will find it interesting to know the meaning behind some names!
Usually, names are chosen according to significant social events that might have happened when the baby was born.
Many names reflect the person's character and personality.
The significance is not always readily apparent. A name given to a baby can mean a long list of events or perhaps the family history. Sometimes, it may explain the circumstances under which some one was born, or simply, one's character.
Some people are happily named after some misfortune in the family, for instance Misozi (Tears) in Chewa language.
Other names are simply a blessing to the family and they are given just because of that, Mapalo in Bemba or Daliso in Chewa.
When missionaries came into Africa, they changed most of the names of the locals to what they called Christian names. It was necessary to drop ones tribal name in favour of what was known as a Christian name. The names were given at baptism. Names such as Sarah, Naomi, Peter, John, Daniel and David where the most common with the newly baptised local christians.
Names have the same meaning despite differences in tribal affiliation. Some names are very popular and they are found in every community. An example is Mapenzi which literally means trouble or problems in the Tonga language of the southern province. The parents to Mapenzi know why they gave their child such a name and the kind of trouble or problems they are referring to. This is the same as to why someone is called Masauso, the equivalent of Mapenzi in Chewa Language or Masuzyo in Tumbuka.
On the other hand, some names are a corruption of foreign names, especially English language names. This includes names of anything in the English language, not necessarily peoples names.
The Lamba tribe of the copperbelt province is full of such names. Its not unusual to come across names like Misters Foloko (Fork), Meleki (Milk), Supuni (spoon), Pensulo (pencil), and Kabiki (Cabbage). It is claimed the Lamba folks have those names because they came into contact with foreigners (and the foreign language) earlier than most other tribes in Zambia!
Anyway, whatever the truth is, the next time you are eating cabbage using a fork, remember Mr Foloko and Mr Kabiki (Fork and Cabbage) in Lamba land!
The following are some Zambian names in Bemba, Chewa, Mambwe, Tonga, Silozi etc. Note that different names can mean the same thing, but and in some cases, some names have more than one meaning.
If you have a unique Zambian name and know its meaning, lets share it!
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