How popular is the baby name Hasani in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Hasani.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Hasani


Posts that Mention the Name Hasani

African Names in the Newspapers

In 1971, a list of African names published in Jet magazine had an impact on U.S. baby names.

In 1977, a list of African names published in Ebony magazine had a similar impact on U.S. baby names.

And in between, in 1973, a list of African names was published in an interesting place: U.S. newspapers nationwide. That is, not in a magazine written for an African-American audience specifically.

African names, newspaper article, 1973, baby names
African names in U.S. newspapers, Aug. 1973

So…did this newspaper-based list have an impact as well?

Yes, turns out it had roughly the same impact as the other two lists.

The opening line of the article was: “Here’s help for young black couples wanting to give their infants African names.” Toward the end, the article featured a list of 23 names. Most of these names ended up seeing movement in the data, including 10 (!) debuts.

  1. Abeni – debuted in 1974
  2. Avodele – never in the data
  3. Dalila – increased in usage ’73
  4. Fatima – increased in usage ’73/’74
  5. Habibah – debuted in 1974
  6. Halima – increased in usage ’74
  7. Hasina – debuted in 1974
  8. Kamilah – increased in usage ’73/’74
  9. Salama – debuted in 1974
  10. Shani – increased in usage ’74
  11. Yaminah – debuted in 1973
  12. Zahra – debuted in 1973
  13. Abdu – debuted in 1973
  14. Ali – no movement in the data
  15. Bakari – debuted in 1973
  16. Hasani – debuted in 1973
  17. Jabari – increased in usage ’73/’74
  18. Jelani – debuted in 1973
  19. Muhammad – no movement in the data
  20. Rudo – never in the data
  21. Sadiki – not in data yet
  22. Zikomo – not in data yet
  23. Zuberi – not in data yet

The article cited as its source The Book of African Names (1970) by Chief Osuntoki. As it turns out, though, the Chief wasn’t a real person. He was a fictional character invented by the publisher, Drum and Spear Press. Here’s a quote from the book’s introduction, purportedly written by the Chief:

It is strange, indeed, it hurts my heart, that brothers from afar often come to greet me bearing such names as “Willie”, “Juan” and “François”. But we can not be hard against them, for they have been misled.

Of the 23 names listed above, the one that debuted most impressively was Jelani. In fact, Jelani ended up tied for 43rd on the list of the top boy-name debuts of all time.

  • 1976: 55 baby boys named Jelani
  • 1975: 46 baby boys and 6 baby girls named Jelani [debut as a girl name]
  • 1974: 53 baby boys named Jelani
  • 1973: 36 baby boys named Jelani [overall debut]
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

Which of those 23 names do you like best?

Sources:

  • “African chief explains symbolism of names.” San Bernardino County Sun 15 Aug. 1973: B-4.
  • Markle, Seth M. A Motorcycle on Hell Run: Tanzania, Black Power, and the Uncertain Future of Pan-Africanism, 1964-1974. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2017.

A Selection of “Names From Africa”

Names from Africa

A few months back, commenter Becca mentioned the book Names From Africa (1972) by Ogonna Chuks-orji. This was one of the first baby name books in the U.S. to focus on African names exclusively.

I haven’t yet read it in full, but Ebony ran an article in 1977 about African-American naming traditions (a few months after Roots first aired) and included a selection of names from the book.

I’ve included the names below, but first here’s a snippet of the article:

Then came the ’60s and ’70s and the rejection of assimilation efforts. Cultural nationalism and separatism replaced integration and Afro-Americans changed their names to reflect their new consciousness. The name of people of African descent as a whole was changed from Negro or colored to Black or Afro-American to reflect an aggressive pride in the African heritage, and an affirmation of the validity of self-defined identity. Africa became a source of names. Very Anglo-Saxon or exotic European names were changed to African names–usually Swahili names with meanings pertinent to the struggle. African leaders, past and present, like Shaka, Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Toure, began to provide the heroic, strong, inspirational names. The eclectic choice of African names reflects the Pan-Africanist orientation of the Afro-American identity.

Here are all the girl names:

Female African Names, from Ebony Magazine, 1977

According to the SSA data, some of the these girl names saw higher usage as baby names thanks to the article:

The names Habibah, Ifetayo, Masani, and Ramla saw no significant movement in the data. The names Abayomi and Ode have only appeared in the data only as a boy names (…though Abayomi did see peak usage in ’77). The other names (Akwokwo, Bayo, Chucki, Dada, Folayan, Hembadoon, Ifama, Ige, Kambo, Mawusi, Oseye, Pasua, Quibilah, Serwa and Sigolwide) have never been in the data at all, as of this writing.

And here are all the boy names:

Male African Names, from Ebony Magazine, 1977

And here are the boy names that saw higher usage as baby names thanks to the article:

  • Abdalla – increased usage in ’77
  • Abubakar – debuted in 1977
  • Hasani – peak usage in ’77
  • Hashim – increased usage in ’77
  • Idi – one-hit wonder in 1977 (and the name of infamous Ugandan president Idi Amin)
  • Kamau – increased usage in ’77
  • Kefentse – one-hit wonder in 1977
  • Khalfani – increased usage in ’77
  • Kontar – one-hit wonder in 1977
  • Kwasi – peak usage in ’77
  • Lateef – peak usage in ’77
  • Makalani – one-hit wonder in 1977 (Makalani also happens to mean “heavenly eyes” or “eyes of heaven” in Hawaiian)
  • Mensah – debuted in 1977
  • Nuru – debuted in 1977

The names Ade, Ahmed, Azikiwe, Bobo, Habib, Jabulani, Lukman, Nizam, N’Namdi, N’Nanna, and Oba saw no significant movement in the data.

The other names (Bwerani, Chionesu, Chiumbo, Dingane, Dunsimi, Fudail, Gamba, Gogo, Gowon, Gwandoya, Kamuzu, Lumo, Machupa*, Mbwana, Mongo, Mosegi, Mwamba and Nangwaya) have never been in the data at all.

*I was very curious about the definition of Machupa, “likes to drink.” Turns out it’s not alcohol-related; another book on African names specifies that the root of Machupa is probably chupa, a Kiswahili word meaning “bottle.”

Sources:

  • Stewart, Julia. African Names: Names from the African Continent for Children and Adults. New York: Citadel Press, 1993.
  • Walker, Sheila S. “What’s in a Name?Ebony Jun. 1977: 74+.