Names of Wakandan People
So as part of our Wakanda culture analysis. We are looking at the names of the every main character of the Black Panther film. Hoping to find the best and most realistically likely origin to the characters names. As Ryan Cooler has announced the plans for a potential Wakanda series we feel it is a great time to share our cultural analysis of Wakanda and its influences.
Most Wakandans tend to use Swahili styled names and no use of surnames. Though some males have as single letter followed by an apostraphe at the start of their name examples include T'Chaka, N'Jobu, T'Challa, N'Jadaka, W'Kabi and M'Baku for example. Zuri is the main exception.
Starting off with the Late former king T'Chaka. The meaning of the name T'Chaka comes from Ta a supposed Prefix in Nubian languages. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates claims the Ta refers to Land. Chaka could be taken from the Zulu name Shaka (as in Shaka Zulu). Shaka is a male name in the Zulu langauge is apparently synonimous with Fire and Strong Leadership according to the website www.Allbabynames.com. In Hebrew Chaka is a female name meaing "Life". T'Chaka can be interpreted to mean "Land of Fire and Strong Leadership"
Moving on to his son the crown prince now King of Wakanda and current Black Panther T'Challa.
T'Challa's name origins shares the Ta with his father T'Chaka. However the word Challa exists in many Asian languages. In Turkish it means "Waterfall". Challa in Punjabi poetry refers to "a young man in love". In Hindi it apparently means "Ring". According to www.Names.org, a user from the Neatherlands claim "Chala" means "the Greatest" but does not specify linguistic or country origin. Taking this into account T'Challa could be "Land of the Greatest (Water/Ring)".
In regards to T'Challa's name other origins according to this blog.
The possible origins for T'Challa's name also include.
1) The name "T'Challa" may have been based on the actual name of a late 19th century "lesser king" in Angola as documented in the book Six Years of a Traveller's Life in Western Africaby Francisco Travassos Valdez, which was published in 1861.
2) "Lake Chala, also known as Dschalla, is a crater lake in a caldera on the borders of Kenya and Tanzania on the eastern edge of Mount Kilimanjaro".
3) name of an ethnic group in Nigeria's Plateau State
From http://allafrica.com/stories/201306210697.html 21 JUNE 2013
Daily Trust (Abuja)
"Nigeria: Plateau - Fulani, Challa to Form Vigilante Group
Jos — Fulani, Challa and other tribes in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State have resolved to form a joint vigilante group to help restore peace.
4) "Tshala Muana is a female singer from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She began her career as a dancer for the great Zairian singer Abeti Massikini, practising "mutwashi" dances from the Kasai region.
5)Also, "tshala" is Zulu word that means "sow"/"plant" and is the title of a contemporary South African Gospel song. Combining the african origins makes the most sense for T'Challa name to be interpreted as "Lesser King from Land of the Sowed Plants and Lake". Mirrors the capital city being situated around a body of water and known for their Heart Shaped Herbs.
N'Jadaka's name is more difficult to pin down. The N' prefix is unknown. But Jadaka is supposedly a Jamaican name apparently meaning Minds of Great Leadership according to a user from Pennsylvania, USA on name.org. No linguistic origin provided. Little bonus, Erik Stevens name is meaniful too. Erik is a norse origin name meaning "eternal ruler" whilst Stevens is the anglicised variation of the Greek name Stephanos meaning "Crown or Wreath". Here's some bonus info, film version of Erik Killmonger is also based off T'Shan. T'Challa's jealous cousin. Though the origin of Shan is Gaelic/Scottish meaning "old, wise". Not exactly appropriate.
Looking at the River tribes main warrioress and champion. We have Nakia the war dog and master infiltrator. Nakia's name is a female Arabic name meaning "Pure and Faithful". Interestingly she does disguise herself as a Muslim woman when infiltrating Boko Haram in Nigeria.
On to the another Warrior woman of Wakanda. We have Okoye of the Dora Milaje. The name Okoye is actually a surname, not a first name. However Okoye is from the Igbo language in Nigeria meaning someone "born on orie market day, or Oye market day" as known in Anambra State. Okoye meaning "born on Market Day" possible may indicate she was born on a significant date.
Moving on from Okoye, lets go visit her beloved husband (finger crossed they work things out), lets meet the champion of the border tribe W'Kabi. W'Kabi is another name where the origin is not clear. The W' prefix is unknown. Kabi according to most sources is a shortened version of Asian words and names. One possible origin for Kabi is from the Arabic name Al-Kabir/Al-Kabeer meaning "The Greatest". It is also the 37th name of Allah in Islam. However according to one user from India on Name.org. Kabi is also short for the Hindi name Kabishna. No definition is provided for what Kabishna could mean. With W'Kabi being a possible could be a variation of Kabir. W'Kabi could be interpreted as "Greatest" or "Greatness"
Back to the royal family. Lets looks at gadget princess Shuri. Shuri's name is also another Asian name and not African strangely enough. Shuri in Japanese is a common female name meaning "Village". However looking into a Swahili translation of Shuri and it is found Shuri in Swahili translates to Save. While we can not find any source claiming that Shuri is in fact a common female name in Kenya or other Swahili speaking regions. It makes sense for Shuri's name to possible be interpreted as "Saviour" or maybe "resourcefull" if interprested as Saves resources.
From the Panther Cult to the Jabari we have our Gorilla warrior king M'Baku. M'Baku's name is much like the other males. His M' prefix is unknown. But much like Shuri, his name is of Asian origin. Specifically Baku is a Japanese word for either the Malyan Tapir and the Baku monster that supposedly devours it's victims dream (usually portrayed as a Tapir like monster). It is also the name of a city in Azerbaijan, the etymology of the City named Baku is believed to be of Asian origin more specifically the Persio-Arabic word Baku or Bakuya. The word itself maybe derived from the words Bad and Kube. Bad-Kube. Bad refering to "Wind" and Kube for "Pounding". The city Baku can be interpreted as Winded Pounded City which lines up to its cold harsh windy climate and nickname the City of Winds in it's Native Azerbaijani/Azer language. This fits well has M'Baku does live in the cold windy mountains.
Ramonda's name appears to be of European origin. It is derived from the Spanish name "Ramon" meaning "protecting hands" or "Decision or Protector". Ramona is the feminine equivalent of the name. It is unknown how or why a european name came into Wakandan culture. The letter D being added to Ramona to make Ramonda maybe a case of Black American name culture of adding a letters or changing the spelling to differentiate it from the original. Though in the context of Black Panther and Wakanda's culture the name Ramonda does not make any sense. Another bonus, Ramonda in the comics is Shuri's biological mother, but the step mother of T'Challa and second wife of T'Chaka after he became widowed. T'Challa's biological mum is in fact N'Yami who is essential merged with Ramonda in the MCU films. N'Yami is so far the only female to have a letter and apostrophe prefix. Yet the meaning is unknown. Yami itself is not of African origin rather it's of Asian orign. In Sanskrit (Indian progenitor language) it means "twin" or "pair", the name of the first woman in Hinduism and twin of Yama the first man in Hinduism. Another Asian origin for Yami is Japanese meaning "Dark".
Zuri is one of the few simplest names with a logical origin. Zuri is a unisex (though commonly female) Swahili name meaning "Beauty". Whilst operating as a War Dog to spy on N'Jobu. Zuri used the name James an English name derived from French which itself is derived from the "Vulgar Latin" name Iacomus (Modern Italian Giacomus or Jaime in Spanish and Portuguese). These names themselves are derived the original Latin Iacobus which is from the Asian names Ya'akov for Hebrew and Yakub for Arabic. It is essential an alternate version of Jacob which the original name can be interpreted to mean "To Follow", "To be behind" "to supplant ones self" or "Sieze by the heel".
Ayo is also a common African name. Its a feminine name meaning "Joy" or "Blessed" in the Nigerian language of Yoruba. This is one of the more straight forward names.
N'Jobu's name much like many of the others has unusual origins. N' is an unknown prefrix. Whilst the Jobu is taken from the voodoo doll of big-hitting Cuban refugee Pedro Cerrano in the 1989 film Major League. N'Jobu and N'Jadaka both sharing Caribbean orign names is not explained and much like Ramonda's name. It doesn't make much sense in the context of Wankanda. Jobu is similar to the anglicised name Job which is originally from Asian names Iyyub (Hebrew) and Ayyub (Arabic). N'Jobu being the uncle of T'Challa means he is also the films equivalent to S'Yan, T'Shan's father and T'Chaka's Brother. As with most of the prefix names, we haven't found a clear origin for the S' prefix. But the name Yan could be form the Yoruba word meaning select or elect. Not a lot to go off but S'Yan may have seen as the "Elected" ruler of Wakanda whilst his brother was Assassinated by Klaus and his nephew was too young to succeed the throne. S'Yan (unlike his son T'Shan) had no interest in being Wakanda's monarch believing his brother would have lived long enough to pass on the mantle to T'Challa. So when the time came he happily stepped down for his nephew to take over and stayed loyal to him till his death.
Finally we get to the last named character in the Black Panther films. Another Dora Milaje member. We have Xoliswa, she was unfortunate in final battle to be killed by Killmonger when he slashed her throat. She utters the phrase "Wakanda Forever" as her final words. In regards to her name, Xoliswa is a female name of Xhosa origin meaning "Peace". Rest in Peace Xoliswa.