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The African Book of Names: 5,000+ Common and Uncommon Names from the African Continent Paperback – January 5, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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  • The African Book of Names: 5,000+ Common and Uncommon Names from the African Continent
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Askhari Johnson Hodari has put together an invaluable resource book. . . . Inspiring and informative, it is a fascinating glimpse into an important part of African cultural traditions.'

--Pearl Cleage, author of What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day

(Pearl Cleage)|'There is a lot more to Dr. Askhari Johnson Hodari's book than its list of more than 5,000 African names. The book is also about the meaning of names, the power of names to change us, the role of names in connecting people to their histories, the expectations that names inspire, and the way names reflect the cultures that create them. On every level, this book succeeds.'

-Betty DeRamus, author of Freedom by Any Means and Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad (Betty DeRamus)|'Dr. Askhari Johnson Hodari captures the essence of African cultural identity and expressivity with this wonderfully rich treasure trove of African names that are at the root of African creativity and intellect. The African Book of Names is a testament of affirmation, confirmation, and reclamation, both transformative and empowering, returning us to our ancestral home.'

-Tony Medina, author of My Old Man Was Always  on the Lam and I and I, Bob Marley (Tony Medina)|'We love to come up with unique names for our children―I even know a 'Uniquequa.' Dr. Hodari has now provided us with a book of unique names that have meaning. To name is to claim. Let's claim our future by giving our children meaningful names.'

-Kalamu ya Salaam, New Orleans, writer/educator/moviemaker (Kalamu ya Salaam)|'The African Book of Names addresses the complexity and cultural sensitivity of descendants of enslaved Africans in the western hemisphere. Since the 1960s, African descendants have renamed ourselves or given our children African designations. [Askhari Hodari's] work is a tremendous resource as it not only provides names but offers context for such decisions. Her book will contribute to reconnection and community-building throughout the African world.

-Akinyele Umoja, Associate Professor, Black Studies, Georgia State University (Akinyele Umoja)|

'Most impressive is the way The African Book of Names remarkably and ingeniously resonates the life, history, culture, and spirit of Africa from all corners of the continent. And the icing on the cake is the included two-hundred-year naming calendar. This book is a 'must-read' masterpiece.'

-Michele R. Wright, author of Dear Success Seeker

(Michele R. Wright)|'One thing that sets this book apart from other name books is that it makes clear that it's not just for babies.'

- Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times)

About the Author

Askhari Johnson Hodari, Ph.D., a practitioner of Black/Africana Studies, regularly studies and travels the African diaspora. Hodari received her bachelor of arts degree from Spelman College and her doctorate from Howard University. She is the coauthor of Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs (Broadway Books, October 2009); and the author of the Black Facts Calendars. Hodari makes her home in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the birthplaces of the Civil Rights Movement.

For more information about The African Book of Names, or the author please direct your browser to: www.africanbookofnames.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 343 pages
  • Publisher: HCI; 1 edition (February 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0757307795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757307799
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Anne Mini on June 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
A lot of writers use baby name books to help them find interesting and meaningful monikers for their characters, but this one belongs on the desk of any writer even considering including African or African-American characters in her work. It is quite simply the best-organized one I've ever encountered -- and believe me, I've thumbed through a lot of them.

Or, to put it another way: when's the last time any of us saw a baby name book that was actually interesting enough to sit down and READ cover to cover?

What makes it so much better than most? THE AFRICAN BOOK OF NAMES is so intelligently put together, treating both the reader and the subject matter with respect. Unlike the vast majority of baby name books out there, it's not just a straightforward list of names and meanings -- which, let's face it, is fairly readily available on the Internet, if you're looking for only common names -- but a thoughtfully-constructed examination of the significance of naming in various African and African-American cultures.

Yes, there are indeed lists, but such lists! Arranged by categories of meaning, the names are also presented by region of origin and circumstance under which a particular name might be applied. And we're not just talking about names that translate as Daisy or Strong One here -- names like the Azanian Nothango (one who forms a buffer against the enemy), the Ugandan Nangila (born while the parents were traveling around), and the Camaroonian Akam Bowho (one who does not have a problem) abound in this book.

This is a powerful resource for writers, in short; I highly recommend it. You'll never run out of fascinating name choices.
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Format: Paperback
This book presents more than pages filled with names and their meanings. It's a part of the lesson about African Americans' history and heritage that has been lost due to oppression and separation of over 400 years. I have read the book, front to back, and it is absolutely inspiring. The research provided has an intrinsic value to the African Diaspora. This book could also be used to become culturally aware of Africans and African Americans' uniqueness.
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Format: Paperback
Askhari Johnson's The African Book of Names addresses the complexity and cultural sensitivity of descendants of enslaved Afrikans in the western hemisphere who are in process of re-discovering our ancestral heritage. Since the 1960, African descendants have renamed ourselves or given our children Afrikan designations. Johnson's work is a tremendous resource as it not only provides names but offers context for such decisions. Her book will contribute to reconnection and community-building throughout the Afrikan World.

For the last thirty years I have performed New Afrikan naming ceremonies for new borns, students and comrades choosing to adopt Afrikan names. Johnson's text is the best source in print that I have seen.
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This is clearly one of the best guides to finding an Afrikan name for yourself or a child that I've ever read in my entire life! It's extensively detailed with good instructions to consider in choosing the perfect Afrikan name. I love how Askhari Hodari explains the European changing of certain letters & words to eliminate our true language ("k" changed to "c" in all our words, for example). She also explains the importance of a formal Naming Ceremony that you can have once you’ve created your name, which is something she’s done many times for her clients.

This book is also NOT meant to be a quick-fix for a name---(although you can if you wish)---because the amount of Afrikan names in this book is amazing, along with their Tribal &/or country-lineages and many languages listed as well as their meanings. The way she breaks down the names into a myriad of categories (or "Themes" as she puts it) forces you to seriously consider the way you want your name to represent you or your child, and what kind of energy you want to bring to yourself or child from The Universe every single time someone says that name---even in a whisper! =) Initially, I felt that I only needed to create a hyphenated last name because I already had a first & middle name chosen. But these Themes, no doubt, led me to some different meanings of names that I never thought of before for myself, yet felt compelled to choose. So I realized my name was going to be a long one (which is also something Ms. Hodari explains here)!
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In Askhari Johnson Hodari's book, she reveals that enslaved African-Americans often had two names, the ones their masters gave them and the secret names "derived from African words" that family members called them. Those secret or "basket" names gave black people in bondage a chance to control at least a part of their lives.
Hodari's book would break new ground even if it merely listed the meaning and origins of more than 5,000 African names. However, by the time you finish her book you'll have learned more than that Latifah means gentle in East Africa, that Bamua means "Daddy is tired" in Cameroon, that Chika means "God is great" in Nigeria or that Nefertiti means "The beautiful one has arrived" in Egypt.
You'll have learned something about the many African cultures and experiences these names reflect. You'll also know why singer Gladys Knight named her daughter Kenya, why actor Danny Glover called his daughter Mandisa, why Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and why basketball player Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971.
Hodari is an educator and writer who has studied and collected African names for more than two decades. I enjoyed her book not only because she had the good sense to arrange her names by meaning and to include instructions for naming ceremonies.
There is something almost intoxicating about saying words like Zalimba, pronounced zah-LEHM-bah, which means "It is difficult" in Malawi or Kambihi, pronounced Kahm-Bee-hee, which means "whirlwind" in Zambia. Hodari says she embraced African names because they "feel elegant to my ear and enthuse my tongue." So they do.
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