In Zulu and Xhosa culture children are often named for what they signify in that moment in the parents lives or at that point in history.
Think of Nkululeko, meaning Freedom, which many were named when the country achieved democracy.
When a very young girl has a baby these days, as happens in South Africa, the mother lays claim with a name that means “She is mine”.
Names are the first seed of identity.
In many cultures and religions, the naming of a child is of utmost importance. In Islam, for instance, the naming ceremony is a pivotal point in a newborn’s life. It connects a child to their religion and it is believed the stronger the name, the less hardship the child will encounter throughout life.
In Hinduism, ancient sages developed the tradition of selecting names that sounded pleasant and have an auspicious meaning. Frequently they are derived from the names of Gods or Goddesses.
Some parents consult astrologers, using a complex zodiac system, to help with choosing the right name for their baby to bring good luck.
In South Africa, rich in cultural diversity, names vary drastically.
When it comes to international naming rituals, Nameberry – an authority on baby names – did a comparison on which names were the most searched for online.
The biggest trends? International names – including Tatjana from Russia and Lucien from France.
Gender-neutral names appear as well. Remember back in the day when names like Brooke and Taylor were taken from daytime soapies? Soapies and popular culture still seem to play a dominant rule.
According to Nameberry, the fastest-rising girl’s name Tatjana is close to Tatiana Maslany (the main character in Orphan Black) while Sherlock has seen a rise due to the popular British TV series.
Thanks to celebrity influences, old-world names like Rose and Ines (Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’s youngest daughter’s name) are still top of the pops.
But don't think the reign of weird celebrity baby names has ended. While Gwyneth Paltrow made it fashionable to name your child after a fruit, other couples have gone even further and named their little ones after herbs. Only British chef Jamie Oliver could get away with naming his son River Rocket. Actually, he's named his entire brood after flowers and a bear.
And when it comes to name royalty, some have gone as far as taking it literally. Kourtney Kardashian started a movement when she named her third child with Scott Disick, Reign. In keeping with the royal theme US rapper TI introduced his seventh child to the world as Heiress Diana Harris. Not one to be outdone by his sister, Rob Kardashian named his daughter Dream.
South African personalities are bucking the trend by opting for more traditional monikers.
Radio DJs Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp and Ian Bredenkamp named their daughter Ester Beth. DJ Black Coffee and Mbali Motshwa named their daughter Anesu, meaning "is with us" in Shona.
Gender-neutral names like Riley and Lucah are still firm favourites.
Postnatal nurses at Hanover Park Maternity Hospital say Western names like Kelsy, Gia and Kiera for girls – and Connor and Rosco for boys – are popular.
At Life Chatsmed Garden Hospital in Durban, a paediatrics nurse says their most common names are Liam, Mohammad, Gabriella, Alena and Kian.
Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital says Hendriko, Joshua, Ruben and Cameron are popular boys’ names. Girls’ names include Liane and Caitlyn, while François is favoured for both sexes.
A look at Home Affairs birth certificate registrations yields a mishmash of variations. So we’ve compiled a list of popular names we’ve encountered more than once.
- Armani *
- Lingomso *
- Cameron *
* Gender Neutral