Reasons Why Kenyans Are Dropping Their English Names

Kenyans never give a lot of thought to why most of us have names such as Evans, David, Miriam or even Grace.

We all know that they are our Christian names that we were given by our parents and even baptism took place. They knew that it was a must that we have Christian names.

In Kenya, Christian names were seen as official, formal, and as a sign of being educated. This was pre-independence but even after the ‘mkoloni’  left, we still kept that mentality.

In recent times, however, things have changed and Kenyans are slowly dropping their first names. Here are some of the reasons:

1.No direct pass to heaven:

They are now sure that having a Christian name is not a guarantee for you to go to heaven. A heathen is a heathen and a name will not just give you that ‘free passport’.

2.Self Branding:

Most Kenyans have dropped their English names for a better identity. They drop their names for self-branding e.g politicians, activists, journalists or even authors. A

Kenyans who’ve done this include our very own Nobel Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai, Politicians like Koigi Wamwere, author Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Freedom fighters and activists like Wambui Otieno, Miguna Miguna or even media personalities like Wambui Maathai.



Some Kenyans do away the first name in order to create class distinctions for the elite. The African name looks unique and sophisticated depending on how you shorten it. A good example names are Kikuyu women who change a name like Wanjiku to Ciku, Wangui to Kui and so on…


4.Keeping The African Origin Alive:

As time goes, our descendants would not have any defining features to place them in this beautiful land, Kenya. Nothing would remind them of their family’s origin, whether it is from the foothills of Mt.Kenya, the great lakeside or even the rocky areas of Ikolomani.


5.Pronunciation of the English Names:

Kenyans have difficulty with certain English names. That’s because most African Languages are distinct from European languages. Certain intonations and letters are either missing or entire foreign.

6.Simply an Identifier:

English names are just for identification that only serves to distinguish one person from the next. The same way a tomato is named to isolate it from other vegetables. That’s the reason most Kenyans are dropping their imperialist names.

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