What’s in a name?

Names are really important in BF. Many people have at least 2-3 first names or prenoms

Usually the formula works something like this.

Name in local language + Muslim/Christian name (s) and then the family name

Names in local language – this depends on where you are but in Mossi country it usually has something + Wende (God) so like, Peng-Wende (god given,) Rayi-Wende, Wend la-Sida (God gives truth) etc.

Muslim names – Usually these are biblical such as Ibrahim, (Abraham) Awa, (Eve) Issouf (Issac), Mohamad/Mahamadi (Muhammad), Soumaïla, Seydou, Ishmael, Bintou, Yassia, Wahabo, Balguissa, Maïmouna, Aïcha etc.

Christian names – Marie, Claire, Cécile, Claudine, Jeanne, Béatrice, Julienne, Gisèle, Bernadette, Lucie, Pierre, Paul, Parfait, Prosper, Charles, etc. 

Then things start to get confusing with spelling and permutations


Amseta – Amsetou

Alimata – Alimatou – Limata – Minata – Salimata – Salimatou – Fatimata – Fatoumata,

Zenabo –Zoenabou

Djenaba – Djenabou

Azeta – Azieta – Halizetta – Lizetta

Hawa – Haoua – Awa

Sara – Sarata – Saratou

Honestly sometimes it can get downright confusing,(Especially in a class of over 60 students where at least two students have the same name)  but generally people understand. 

Then for last names, you can usually tell the ethnic group someone belongs to by their last name.

In my village the most common last names are Sawadogo/Savadogo, Ouedraogo (The royal family), Belem, Zorome, and Sana. 

My full village name is Sawadogo Sarata (in Francophone countries the last name always goes first). 

Hope this sheds some light on the nature of names in BF!


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