A book of African names

June 14, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

The guy sitting next to you has a name that's hard to pronounce, and you wonder where it came from. Or maybe your mom told you your middle name is Kiswahili for "luck," but you don't know what Kiswahili is, or where the language comes from.

Since the social upheaval of the 1960s, African Americans have been reclaiming their heritage through the naming process. They've given their children melodic names like Jamila, meaning "beautiful," and Omari, "most high."

Author Julia Stewart traveled Africa for three years, compiling information for her book, "African Names: Names from the African Continent for Children and Adults" (Citadel Press, $9.95). It contains more than 1,000 names from all corners of Africa.

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