The Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. These “day names” have further meanings concerning the soul and character of the person. Middle names have considerably more variety and can refer to their birth order, twin status, or an ancestor’s middle name.
This naming tradition is shared throughout West Africa and the African diaspora. During the 18th–19th centuries, slaves in the Caribbean from the region that is modern-day Ghana were referred to as Coromantees. Many of the leaders of slave rebellions had “day names” includingCuffy or Kofi, Cudjoe or Kojo, and Quamina or Kwame/Kwamina.
Most Ghanaians have at least one name from this system, even if they also have an English or Christian name. Notable figures with day names include Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumahand former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In the official orthography of the Twi language, the Ashanti versions of these names as spoken inKumasi are as follows. The diacritics on á a̍ à represent high, mid, and low tone (tone does not need to be marked on every vowel), while the diacritic on a̩ is used for vowel harmony and can be ignored. (Diacritics are frequently dropped in any case.) Variants of the names are used in other languages, or may represent different transliteration schemes. The variants mostly consist of different affixes (in Ashanti, kwa- or ko- for men and a- plus -a or -wa for women). For example, among the Fante, the prefixes are kwe- and e-, respectively. Akan d̩wo is pronounced something like English Joe, but there do appear to be two sets of names for those born on Tuesday.
There are also special names for elder and younger twins. The second twin to be born is considered the elder as they were mature enough to help their sibling out first.
There are also names based on the order born, the order born after twins, and the order born after remarriage.
Children are also given names when delivered under special circumstances.
Ashanti people given-names are concluded with an ethnic-Ashanti family name (surname) proceeded with an Ethnic-Ashanti given name. The Ashanti ethnic-Ashanti family name (surname) are always given after close Ashanti relatives and sometimes Ashanti friends.Since the Ashanti names are always given by the Ashanti men if an Ashanti couple receives an Ashanti son as their first born-baby the Ashanti son is named after the Ashanti father of the Ashanti husband and if the Ashanti baby is an Ashanti girl the Ashanti girl will be named after the Ashanti mother of the Ashanti husband. As a result if an Ashanti man called Osei Kofi and his Ashanti wife gives birth to a girl as their first born, the girl may be called Yaa Dufie even if she was not born on Friday. The reason is that the Ashanti mother of the Ashanti man Osei Kofi is called Yaa Dufie. The Ashanti people usually give these names so that the Ashanti names of close Ashanti relatives be maintained in the Ashanti families to show how Ashantis cherish the love for their Ashanti families.
In the olden days of Ashanti it was a disgrace if an Ashanti man was not able to name any Ashanti child after his Ashanti father and/or Ashanti mother because that was the pride of every Ashanti household. Most of the ethnic-Ashanti family name (surname) given to boys could also be given to girls just by adding the letters “aa”. Some Ashanti family names (surnames) can be given to both boys and girls without changing or adding anything. However, there are other ethnic-Ashanti family name (surnames) that are exclusively Ashanti boys names while others are exclusively ethnic-Ashanti girls family names (surnames).