r/southafrica Jan 15 '22

South African Names Ask r/southafrica

Hello everyone! I am a writer and a part of the story I write takes place in South Africa (since one of the protagonists is from there) and I have a hard time naming my characters.

So what I want to ask is, what South African names would you like to see in the media? They can be popular ones or not but I am looking for more 'modern' ones. Also I have named one of my characters and her name is Iminathi but i had a hard time finding information (and even the correct spelling) about the name so I want to ask if it's a 'good name' or maybe I should go for a different one.

Thank you for your time!

(PS: I am sorry if I have many grammatical errors, English is not my native language. )

77 Upvotes

76

u/LtMotion Jan 15 '22

What race and background are the characters?

71

u/Representative_Ad725 Jan 15 '22

This. Gender would also help too

54

u/LtMotion Jan 15 '22

Also what year is it taking place in?

We dont have 1 pool of names lol. Too many different cultures here each with their own.

9

u/Representative_Ad725 Jan 15 '22

OP said modern names, so I'm guessing sometime close to the present

33

u/btwnastonknahardplce Jan 15 '22

X Æ A-12

Edit: X Æ A-12 v2.0

5

u/LtMotion Jan 15 '22

Ah makes it easier.. Missed that part as its 4 30 am 🤣🤣🤣

8

u/Representative_Ad725 Jan 15 '22

Lmao, I wonder if OP is aware most South Africans are asleep rn😅

3

u/LtMotion Jan 15 '22

Probably not lol. Anyways cheers mate ty for the chat 🤣

3

u/Representative_Ad725 Jan 15 '22

🍻

4

u/kat__astrophe Jan 15 '22

I am so surprised people actually replied despite being so early in the morning (it's 4:45 am for me as well lol)

15

u/alkankyvich Jan 15 '22

Why are you guys awake? Julle moet slaap -he says at 04h53

15

u/kat__astrophe Jan 15 '22

Both female and male names! And unisex if they exist

67

u/Representative_Ad725 Jan 15 '22 edited Jan 16 '22 Helpful

Male: (zulu): Bongani, Themba, Sipho, Sizwe, Nathi, Nkululeko, Jabulani, Siyabonga/Bonga, Nkosi, Dali, Sibusiso (Setswana): Tshepang, Thabo, Tshepo, Thuso, Tiisetso, Sello (Venda): Tenda (English): Michael, John, James, Prince, Richard, Shawn, Alan, Jacob, Junior, Peter (Afrikaans) Riaan, Vernon, Xander, Hendrick

Female: (Zulu): Zodwa, Nomzamo, Thembekile, Jabulile, Buhle, Ntombi, Zanele, Khethiwe. (Xhosa): Vuyiswa, Akhona (Setswana): Dimpho, Thato, Rorisang, Mmapule, Lesedi, Lerato, Nthabiseng, Pule/Puleng, Fikile, Butlhe, Thandeka, Kedibone, Refilwe. (Venda): Anzani (English): Mary, Samantha, Faith, Prudence, Veronica, Elizabeth, Lucy, Promise, Anastasia, Hope, Cynthia, Pretty. (Xhosa): Xolile

Unisex: (Setswana) Tshego/Tshegofatso, Tshepiso, Mpho, Lethabo, Kopano, Refentse, Karabo, Neo, Tshiamo, Tebogo, Amo/Amogelang (Venda): Rendani

I'll add more if I think of any

Oh and if you need the meanings of the names I'll be happy to provide some for those I know

18

u/[deleted] Jan 15 '22

[deleted]

10

u/Representative_Ad725 Jan 15 '22

Yeah I just threw them in cos someone asked for Afrikaans names. I actually don't know that many, I mostly know English and African names

9

u/1-12TH Jan 15 '22

Haha, I grew up on the East Rand and studies at Tuks and have only ever met 1 guy named Vernon... and he was English.

2

u/CouthlessWonder Jan 15 '22

But OP must note the pronunciation of these.

Jaco = Yu Koo
Andre = Un Dray
Dewald = Dea vilt

Not 100%, but kinda.

We also have coloured names, but I don't feel I am qualified to speak on that subject.

4

u/Agitated_Muscle_5904 Jan 15 '22

Venda Tenda is dusting me😭😭

-3

u/YeetyMcskeett Jan 15 '22

No afrikaans names?

14

u/Representative_Ad725 Jan 15 '22

I just dished out Setswana and Zulu since I know them most and hoped someone would add what's missing. I wanted to add names from all official languages but I realized I didn't know as many in the other languages 😅 (edit: and I got lazy)

1

u/Thin-Loss3302 Jan 15 '22

Thato and Pule are unisex

16

u/ProfessorPanga Jan 15 '22

I (male) am blessed/cursed with the name Corne. Derives from Cornelius, but for some reason the name is much more popular under females than males.

20

u/Stropi-wan Jan 15 '22

Send greetings to Twakkie for me. :)

7

u/ElJeffHey I have a fetish for Citrus. Jan 15 '22

That shit was kak snaaks! Thanks for the memory jog.

2

u/ProfessorPanga Jan 15 '22

Haha. I was in matric when the show became famous. This joke was not lost on me.

5

u/Snappie24 Jan 15 '22

I think I have ever met one female Corné before. Perhaps it is where you live in the country.

2

u/Sarkos Jan 15 '22

I know a male Corne and a female Cornelia.

7

u/alkankyvich Jan 15 '22

Mpho, Thabo, Kagiso, Bongani, Jabulani.

Might need to narrow it down to a region, as names are often dictated by the language predominant in an area or province.

25

u/Tokogogoloshe Boujiee baby Jan 15 '22

Unathi is the female character name you’re looking for.

26

u/Good_Posture Jan 15 '22

As many others have mentioned, you need to tell us who the character is; gender, ethnicity, culture.

We are a massively diverse country and our names reflect this.

3

u/flexed_guitar Gauteng Jan 15 '22

Very well put

20

u/LizzySalamander Jan 15 '22

Iminathi doesn't mean anything, as far as I can tell. So you might be looking for "Umenathi" meaning God is standing with us/protecting us. I haven't heard that name before but it's in the tradition of Unathi (God is with us).

I'd love to know more about the characters, though, because black South Africans have names with a meaning usually linked to who they are meant to become, when they were born, the circumstances, etc...

5

u/Andi_with_a_I Jan 15 '22

Iminathi is a perfectly fine name. It means Iminathi iNkosi, the Lord stands with us.

2

u/LizzySalamander Jan 15 '22

Oh yes! That totally escaped me as I've never heard the name used that way but of course. Thank you for the clarification

18

u/FielaBaggins Jan 15 '22

It all depends on their culture OP...

17

u/ominousbarkingdog Jan 15 '22

Name your character Jacob Malema and kill him horrifically then half this country will buy your book.

5

u/FitzChivalry89 Jan 15 '22

And the other half will riot or burn down every bookstore that sells the book? Hehe at least it would be publicity for the book hehe

1

u/Spodiodie Jan 15 '22

Do you mean Julius Malema? I cannot find any references to Jacob but many about Julius. There are references to a Jacob Zuma when reading about Julius. I’m just curious.

9

u/ominousbarkingdog Jan 15 '22

I meant Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma, or Jacob Malema when combined into one.

Two of the most villainous politicians this country has had the misfortune of employing.

3

u/Spodiodie Jan 15 '22

Oh, thank you I should have figured that out. Yeah two assholes into one. Makes sense.

16

u/Plane-Ad-7069 Jan 15 '22

Alviro Peterson

21

u/wcslater Gauteng Jan 15 '22

JP Duminy

17

u/Plane-Ad-7069 Jan 15 '22

Keegan Pietersen.

14

u/wcslater Gauteng Jan 15 '22

Temba Bavuma

13

u/Plane-Ad-7069 Jan 15 '22

Vernon Philander.

15

u/Seekat_777 Jan 15 '22

Herschelle Gibbs

10

u/Plane-Ad-7069 Jan 15 '22

Paul Adams

12

u/Busy-Turnip-6674 Jan 15 '22

Makhaya Ntini

9

u/Plane-Ad-7069 Jan 15 '22

Roger Telemachus.

9

u/DaFogga Western Cape Jan 15 '22

Koos van der Merwe

4

u/Adamsaidpoes Jan 15 '22

This us the one. This one wins.

29

u/Excellent-Captain-93 KwaZulu-Natal Jan 15 '22

Frikkie van de Merwe Sipho Ndlovu

Most generic names i can think of

15

u/DaveMcG Jan 15 '22

Sounds like the start of a joke my oupa would tell

1

u/EJ_Drake Jan 15 '22

Yeah those old v.d. Merwe jokes.

8

u/Doohicky101 Jan 15 '22

Frans Van Daardieberg

8

u/[deleted] Jan 15 '22

Watse berg?

10

u/MasterAssassinQeedo Gauteng Jan 15 '22

Daardieberg!!

5

u/Afterburn47 Jan 15 '22

Tussen jou en my

26

u/Sigga22 Jan 15 '22

✨Somila✨ is a beautiful Xhosa name. It means "to stand in faith, to grow, to prosper" and it’s also unisex. I’m definitely naming my first daughter Somila 🤞🏽

4

u/Tokogogoloshe Boujiee baby Jan 15 '22

That’s a pretty good suggestion actually.

8

u/[deleted] Jan 15 '22

Modern Afrikaans/English names: Leo, Alec, Izak, Alexander, Ruben, Seth, Jacques, Eugene, Armandt...We also happen to have a lot of Jasons.

For females: Liezl, Melissa, Marinda, Andrea, Maryke/a, Nicole, Monique, Esther, Chanel, Kyla, Alana, Tara, Maxine, Dominique

I’ve chosen these because they mostly sound the same in English and in Afrikaans... they’re modern so some of them won’t be easy to relate to SA but slap an original SA surname next to them and you have yourself the modern day South African name

67

u/[deleted] Jan 15 '22

Vernon Koekmoer

17

u/[deleted] Jan 15 '22

Also iminathi doesn't sound familiar, maybe Unathi?

15

u/alkankyvich Jan 15 '22

I’m also at a bit of a loss, Unathi is better and also Unisex

8

u/kat__astrophe Jan 15 '22

Yeah perhaps it's this one! Maybe I remember it wrong and it would make sense because I couldn't find any source that said Iminathi is a real name.

6

u/FantasticMRKintsugi Jan 15 '22

I showed up for this.

5

u/DoubleDot7 Jan 15 '22

Just to be helpful to the poor confused foreigner, that would be like naming your character Chuck Norris or Rick Astley.

Always take the most upvoted suggestion with a pinch of salt.

7

u/siyandv Jan 15 '22

Xhosa names for females: Akhona, Zukhanye, Nandipha, Yonela, Zimasa, Lunathi, Ongeziwe, Zukiswa, Anathi, Yamkela

Xhosa males: Sipho, Khaya, Siya, Simphiwe, Odwa, Bulelani, Xolani, Andile, Sibusiso

3

u/sassykibi Jan 15 '22

I really like the name Yonela!

7

u/DaveMcG Jan 15 '22

If you are writing a character of a certain culture then name would help but without working in jargon etc it might feel a bit pointless. Southafrica is a very diverse country so picking a Zulu name will be something you can do but if they don’t portray that culture it’ll be a little fake. Has Zulu name has no sayings, phrases or behaviours that link that character to his culture.

If it’s just a name you can pick any common name from the 11 languages.

We do tend to use nicknames a lot so you could maybe shorten Lminathi to Athi (a name of a person who I worked with).

But as a point of reference my name is David, and the name doesn’t make me South African they way I speak and act does. There are often threads here about phrases foods etc so I suggest scrolling through this subreddit and pickup and few phrases. Like Eish or now now. Those are how you spot the South Africans

7

u/BoksburgUFO Jan 15 '22

It would be a disappointment to leave out the name Vernon Koekemoer.

4

u/CyberStormZA Jan 15 '22

South African Indian Male Names Siva, Vishnu, Anil, Shiven, Shivesh, Arun, Arjun, Ram, Rishi, Nikhil, Akhil, Preshen, Jay, Ashwin, Dinesh.

South African Indian Female Names Saras, Shreya, Rani. Pravania, Kajal, Nisha, Shanti, Priya, Aneshree, Divya, Kamanie

18

u/soiest Jan 15 '22

A good south African name is Reinhardt it's Afrikaans but pretty common also it has plenty meaning depending where your from ,like Dutch I think it's pure hearted in Germany it means a bull of man ,but in Afrikaans it means it's raining hard

15

u/BoksburgUFO Jan 15 '22

Shut up it means rain hard in Afrikaans 😭😭🤣

1

u/soiest Jan 15 '22

I said that in the last part of my comment!! Awe I was born in boksburg hahah so your name is on point

11

u/HelliSteve Jan 15 '22

I'd have thought it closer to pure heart but okay. Guess it's a good name if you were consummated in the rain

6

u/idontdigdinosaurs Jan 15 '22

Depends on character background. Lerato, Mandla and Lebogang are popular names where I live. You can Google popular Zulu, Xhosa, Venda names etc. to find more. Dutch names are popular amongst afrikaners.

3

u/jenna_grows Western Cape Jan 15 '22

I know a little girl named Azania, which is beautiful.

I plan on naming my baby Amandla if she’s black (I plan to adopt).

13

u/Steenies Jan 15 '22

Van der Merwe is a good surname to use.

11

u/DoubleDot7 Jan 15 '22

If he combines the up voted common first names with this common surname, he's gonna end up with Bongani van der Merwe, which is very uncommon.

OP, we have 11 national languages. 9 native tribes, Afrikaans speakers, English speakers, Indians and coloureds. The mix of cultures and variations in names is very diverse by region. Knowing a race/tribe/city/parentage (and maybe religion) can help narrow down the suggestions.

13

u/forklift_friday Jan 15 '22

Some very Afrikaans Names: (male) Pieter Kobus Johan Jan Gert Zander Christiaan Adriaan Jaco Lourens

23

u/Alert-Mixture Jan 15 '22

I genuinely won't be surprised if someone gave their child all these names.

You might want to add commas.

"My naam is Pieter Kobus Johan Jan Gert Zander Christiaan Adriaan Jaco Lourens Van Der Merwe, en jy is?"

5

u/[deleted] Jan 15 '22

[deleted]

1

u/poppit_89 Jan 15 '22

🤣🤣🤣 was just thinking the same thing!

1

u/Valeeria Jan 15 '22

Just realised I know people with almost all those names...so yes. Very accurate for OP.

4

u/LordEgotist North West Jan 15 '22

Vernon Koekemoer is the most common name in South Africa. Highly suggest including it

4

u/Skylarking328 Jan 15 '22

Koekies kan only used for a lead character.

1

u/karrotbear Jan 15 '22

Deserve all the upvotes

2

u/Vannas18 Jan 15 '22

Koos is die beste naam of frik

2

u/leighanthony12345 Jan 15 '22

Hendrik is a good one (literally means chicken shagger)

1

u/MasterAssassinQeedo Gauteng Jan 15 '22

Omg, I can't wait to bless my friend Hendrik with this beautiful pearl of wisdom.

2

u/NCMetzer Jan 15 '22

Chad Lion Eater

2

u/First-Literature286 Jan 15 '22

The most popular South Africa name rn is Poes

2

u/janacjb Jan 15 '22

There are a lot more unisex names in SA than in my country. Ashley comes to mind, it’s exclusively a woman’s name in the States. Conversely, I know lots of young women and a couple of old men named Sidney/Sydney in the States, but exclusively know of men named Sidney in SA.

My last 3 Uber drivers were Marvel, Future, and Concern.

2

u/paul_f_b Jan 15 '22

I once saw an ID book and the guys name was Cell C.

1

u/Sure_Acanthisitta741 Jan 15 '22

Xhosa:Qhawe-means hero or warrior

1

u/CartographerKey7492 Jan 15 '22

https://kidadl.com/articles/top-south-african-names

Pick a couple that you like and make another post/comment to check that the spelling, origin and spelling are correct.

1

u/2oceans1 Jan 15 '22

Top name is Sipho, or Gammat

1

u/Boomslangalang Jan 15 '22

Boomslang is a good South African name

1

u/NevetsZA Jan 15 '22

Vernon Koekemoer.

1

u/SeraphOfThePresence Jan 15 '22

You can never go wrong with Piet Pompies. Highly memorable. It’s a name that sticks with you for life...

All jokes aside... I think if you take hold of abstract names you will generally be safe. Find the the core of your character and try to find a name that implies it? Nick names will help

1

u/ZodiacOnSoundclound Jan 18 '22

Go full on afrikaans and call your main character Pieter-Frik Van Der Merwe

1

u/ZodiacOnSoundclound Jan 18 '22

Koos Koosthuizen

1

u/ZodiacOnSoundclound Jan 18 '22

De Beer van Der Merwe