Kofi and Ama

Ghanaians tend to have the same first names. There is a good and very simple reason for this. There are only fourteen main names to choose from: seven for males and seven for females. Anyone can tell on which day of the week a person was born just by hearing a name. For the biggest part of the Ghanaian population (almost the whole of Southern Ghana), names are given according to the day of birth.

The apparent confusion that could arise out of this fact is cleverly avoided by either forming derivatives from the original names, by adding to standard names or replacing them with names of respected ancestors, dead or alive. Should this still be confusing, children are named in the order of birth: the first, the second, the third, etc. or a combination of the two. For instance, if four children are born to a couple, all of them boys, all of them born on Friday, this is how they would be named: Kofi, Kofi Manu (the second Kofi), Kofi Mensa (the third Kofi), and Kofi Annan (the fourth Kofi). Does that ring a bell? This tells us that the former United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan was either the fourth of four boys born on Friday or he was named after somebody called Annan, probably his own father or grandfather.

Another way of disentangling the names knot is by adopting names signifying the period or circumstances in which a person was born. For example; Nyamekye (God-given), where the child was not expected. Ababio (the returnee) after losing an earlier child of the same sex.

Names are given according to one’s day of birth
 MALE FEMALE
MONDAY Kojo, Joojo Ajoa, Ajo
TUESDAY Kobena, Kwabena Abena, Abla
WEDNESDAY  Kweyku, Kuuku Akua, Aku
THURSDAY  Yaw, Ekow Yaa, Yaaba
FRIDAY Kofi, Fiifi, Yoofi Afua, Afi
SATURDAY Kwame, Kwamena Aba, Ama
SUNDAY Kweysi, Akweysi Esi, Akosua

Whilst visiting Ghana, adopt one of the day-based names, ideally one of those for your day of birth – and mesmerize the locals 🙂


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Kofi and Ama
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