South African Clan Names Afrikaans Surnames and Totems

Clan Tribe Names and Totems, with Meaning and Totems Afrikaans surname culture is an intriguing element of African indigenous tradition, creating unique surnames through an amalgam of clan names and praise poems.

Kwena are part of an alliance comprising Motlokoa, Morolonge, and Thabane and use leopard as their totem animal (nkwe).

South African Clan Names

Mahaye Clan Names History and Origin

Mahaye is an African name with extensive personal, cultural, familial, and historical ties. Most African communities identify with their clan and attach praises or izithakazelo to their names as part…

Manala Clan Names History and Origin

An individual’s surname provides insight into their past. This is particularly true among Africans, where clan praises (izithakazelo in isiZulu) may provide historical context about a family. The Ngwane tribe…

Mageba Clan Names History and Origin

Clan names are an effective way of distinguishing one family within another group, conveying pride, identity, and belonging. Other cultures consider it taboo for a brother to inherit his deceased…

Ledwaba Clan Names History and Origin

Historical records provide us with an invaluable glimpse of our past. They reveal information such as the names and addresses of ancestors as well as their professions. This article investigates…

Khosa Clan Names History and Origin

Lili shares the history of her clan by recognizing Massinge and Mahumana as its founding ancestors; these brothers had to subdue and defeat Machingele who was known for being oppressive…

Role of Totems in African Tribal Life and Identity


African tribes distinguish themselves from other groups by identifying clan and family totems – symbols associated with animals or objects with strong associations to the community and environment that help maintain pride, pride of identity and link their community back to ancestral roots. Furthermore, totems can also be used in cultural practices like decorating court stools with images of their totems.

African clans are organized into small groups led by an inkosi who is considered the supreme leader of their community. He exercises authority over several districts while serving as primary religious figure. Furthermore, he has final say over all matters pertaining to law and policy making him similar to tribal chief.

Botswana’s Xaniqwee tribe are descendants of the Bahurutse section of Nguni people and believe their totem animal, commonly referred to in local language as Thakadu (Aardvark), protects them from danger while being known for its intelligence and kindness – indeed hunting or handling an Aardvark is considered highly disrespectful in this tribe today! It remains sacred and all members must abide by strict hunting and handling restrictions within this society.

Although its exact origin remains hazy, one theory holds that Shaka may have created it as part of his efforts to expand his empire. However, not all scholars agree with this claim and instead believe it may have been handed down through generations as traditional knowledge.

African totems represent individuals’ personal traits and deep connections to nature and community. Individuals should understand and identify with their totems so they can learn from and draw strength from them, as well as use it as an aid in overcoming life’s difficulties and challenges. All community members have an obligation to protect and defend these totems – from not touching it harmlessly to feeding, rescuing and caring for it as needed.


The Ndau (also referred to as Shangaan) people belong to South Africa’s Bantu-speaking communities and can be found throughout. These people share close ties to both Karanga tribe and Nguni people – this being evidenced in both language and customs of both groups. Nguni people can often be identified through clan names that identify their lineage.

Clan names are an integral component of African culture, and each clan has an animal or plant which serves as its totem. These totems are seen as signs of good luck; killing one of their totem animals would bring bad fortune. Ndau people believe harming or killing their totem animals brings bad luck; therefore they take great measures to protect and safeguard them by decorating their homesteads with animal skins that resemble their totem animal or plant.

Ndlanzi is a Zulu word meaning “totem,” often used as both surname and given name. It’s one of the most prevalent surnames across Southern Africa and can be found in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland Zimbabwe and Zambia – often misspelled as Ndlandzi, Ndlandzo or Ndlanzie

Ndau tribe was historically related to Karanga tribe and already present in Mozambique and Zimbabwe before the arrival of Nguni people in 1820. With years of interaction and intermarriage with these conquering Ngunis, their culture became heavily influenced by Nguni beliefs – leading them to form their unique culture based on Nguni beliefs.

Ndlazi is the 44,810th most prevalent surname worldwide and most frequently seen in South Africa. Additionally, this surname can also be found in Australia – where it ranks 3rd – although very uncommon elsewhere such as the United States where it ranks only very rarely. More popularly found than any other nation worldwide; most commonly seen among South Africans with Nguni ancestry thus explaining its popularity there as well as why so many Ndlazis reside here – making South Africa an oasis for these individuals looking for safe haven. However there may be other countries with larger numbers of Ndlazis than in South Africa; click here for details!


South Africa, popularly dubbed “the Rainbow Nation”, is a country brimming with culture and history. This can be seen through its wide array of surnames; many clan names connect individuals to their ancestral roots; often using symbolic totems from historical leaders as emblems for various clans to help preserve culture and pride in lineage.

Shava can be traced to Ndebele tribe. Historically, Ndebele tribes were led by an ikozi (tribal head), assisted by an inner or family council. Additionally, ward heads administered these areas which hosted several families called umuzis which typically consisted of one family head with his wives and unmarried children living within one umuzi.

A totem is a symbolic representation of an animal, plant or mineral considered sacred by certain groups. Totems can be ornamental elements within clans and families as well as displayed on tribal flags or paraphernalia; many people also believe they possess special powers that protect members of their clan from harm while serving spiritual functions in rituals to honor elders or deceased family members.

Ndebele tribes use the Shisa totem as a sign of strength, as these animals are well known for their fierce defenses against predators and threats, healing themselves as well as others. Shisas have become an integral part of Ndebele culture over generations; now carrying on from generation to generation.

The Ndebele have long revered and used the eland as a totem animal; its name can be found in many legends and folktales as it serves as the national emblem for their nation. Furthermore, it’s become one of their common surnames, having been associated with numerous prominent figures within South African politics.

Ndebele brothers typically inherit their dead brother’s wife even if they are unrelated, which may go against other cultures’ norms but is seen by them as an effective way of maintaining bloodlines within clans and keeping bloodline intact.


Contrary to other nations of South Africa, the Xhosa and Zulu do not form clans; rather they consist of families that share an identifiable clan name as surname. Clan names serve as one of the primary ways that individuals define themselves as people and contribute towards shaping identity. Clans are usually composed of several families who share a common ancestor and often live together within the same region and history. One such clan, known as the Xhosa peoples of South Africa’s Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal regions, comprises millions of members who share this definition. Ngunis belong to the Nguni nation, comprised of four ethnic groups that make up its entirety: Xhosa, AmaNdebele and Ndzundza are its constituents, with the Xhosa being the largest among them and predominantly found in Eastern Cape; one of Africa’s most celebrated and significant ethnic groups globally.

The eland is a star character in many traditional stories of Bastawana and Bushman tribes, serving as an integral element in Bushman rock art. Eland represents strength and courage – two characteristics it stands for across multiple languages – as a sacred animal with its horns representing strength and courage; Khoikhoi and AmaXhosa tribes use it as their totem animal; while in Southern Ndebele areas this animal is known by name ngumlula which means assist, help or remove; finally Zulu culture has clan praises known by name “izithakazelo”, used to honor achievements from family members as well as honor their ancestors who came before.

As with many cultures around the globe, African culture has long had an intimate connection to nature and animals, manifested through cultural symbols known as totems that are valued by many families as spiritual markers that link individuals to their ancestral roots and keep family unity intact. Totems typically take form of animal or object totems passed down from generation to generation – and in today’s globalized world these can even be found outside Africa!