Zambian Names Are A Reflection of Significant Social Events

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.

Zambian Names

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.

Christian Names

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 one’s ‘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 Zambian 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 people’s names.


Zambian Names Which Zambian Name Should We Give It?

The Lamba tribe of the copperbelt province is full of such names. It’s 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.

Some Zambian Names And Their Meanings

  • Bupe means gift in Bemba and Limpo in Silozi.
  • Butemwe means love in Kaonde – Contributed by Muyumba Itongi Royda
  • Buumba means sad/heartbroken indicating a child born when there is a heart breaking thing in Tonga – Contributed by John Jack Johns
  • Chapusana is a name given to the child born after his father’s death in Kaonde
  • Chijika is a name given after twins in Lunda – Contributed Muyumba Itongi Royda
  • Chikondi means love in Chewa
  • Chipego means gift in Tonga, A name given to a child who is born after so many expectations - Contributed by John Jack Johns
  • Chisomo means Grace in Chewa – Contributed by Blackwil P.C
  • Chola is given to the one born after a twin in Bemba.
  • Daliso means blessing In Chewa
  • Izukanji means remembering in Namwanga
  • Kabwe means little stone in Bemba
  • Kibinda means hunter in Kikaonde – Contributed by Kees Kibinda de Kwaasteniet
  • Kondwani means be happy in Chewa
  • Kyela means light  in Kaonde – Contributed by Bezo Maimbo
  • Luketekelo means Faith in Kaonde - Contributed by Muyumba Itongi Royda
  • Lukundo means Gracious in Namwanga
  • Lushomo means faith in Tonga - Contributed by John Jack Johns
  • Luyando means love in Tonga. A name given to child who brings joy especially if your wife or husband hated each other during pregnancy only to be happy when the baby is born - Contributed by John Jack Johns
  • Lweendo means journey in Tonga. A name given to a child born on the way to somewhere - Contributed by John Jack Johns
  • Madaliso means many blessings in Tumbuka – Contributed by Madaliso Nkhoma
  • Mainza is given to the one born in the rainy season in Tonga
  • Miyanda means roots/herbs in Tonga. A name given to a child born after so many herbs or drugs were taken from both the mother and father - Contributed by John Jack Johns
  • Monde means unnatural death or suicide - Contributed by Agness Mate
  • Mubanga means strong in Bemba
  • Mulonga means river in Tonga
  • Mutende means peace in Chewa
  • Mutinta means different in Tonga
  • Muzagalu means happy in Kaonde - Contributed by Muyumba Itongi Royda
  • Mwiza means you have arrived in Mambwe
  • Natasha means I am thankful in Bemba
  • Nchimunya means same sex again in Tonga – Contributed by John Jack Johns
  • Ngenda means a visitor in Silozi – Contributed by Agness Mate
  • Nkuwa means famous in Kaonde - Contributed by Muyumba Itongi Royda
  • Tamara means we have finished in Tumbuka
  • Twaamba and Mabeta means a child born amidst disputes in Tonga- Contributed by John Jack Johns

If you have a unique Zambian name and know it’s meaning, let’s share it!

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