Xhosa Names & Meanings: The ‘ABC’s of Xhosa Names’ by Thandiwe Tshabalala

Xhosa Names are family names given to the Xhosa people of South African. They are considered more important than surnames and can be used to trace a persons ancestral history. When a women marries, she is expected to keep her clan name by adding a pre-fix to her new surname.

All Xhosa clans names have meaning to them. The most familiar one would be  ‘Rolihlahla’, a name given to the late Nelson Mandela by his father meaning ‘to pull a branch’ (or troublemaker – colloquial meaning).

South African Illustrator Thandiwe Tshabalala, has created a series of gifs ‘ABC’s of Xhosa Names’, celebrating some of the most common clan names with the meanings incorporated in the design.

Check them out below: ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names1 ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names2 ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names3 ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names4 ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names5 ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names6 ABCs-of-Xhosa-Names7

To learn more about illustrator Thandiwe Tshabalala’s work, visit:

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