Home World Why do Nigerian names starts with OLA [A thorough explanation]

Why do Nigerian names starts with OLA [A thorough explanation]

by Abbey
Why do Nigerian names starts with OLA

There are a lot of names that are common in Nigeria. These names have become a sort of identity of Nigerians. So, right off the bat, if you see the word OLA in any form in someone’s name, you can conclude that that person is a Nigerian

I worked as a Yoruba teacher in the past and this puts me in a prime position to talk about this subject matter.

As a country of so many cultures, Nigeria is made of the Hausa who occupy the Northern regions of the country; the Igbo people who are in the southeastern part of the country; there are also the Yoruba people whose land bothers the Atlantic ocean. The Yorubas due to the strategic location of their land are the first to make contact with the white man, while they also suffered the slave trade the most, they also got a few things first like western education.

The word “OLA” is the name of the Yoruba extraction of southwestern Nigeria.

So the first thing that should jump out at you is that the name belongs to someone whose father is a Yoruba. I mentioned father because in Nigeria, children often take the name of their father (not their mother).

OLA is the name given to the word WEALTH. The Yorubas like wealth a lot, I mean, who doesn’t? They also tend to infuse this word into the names they give their children.

I myself, the long form of my name is AJIBOLA. A shorter form is BOLA. So you can see that the last three letters of my name has the word is the word OLA.

So OLA is one of the most popular names in YORUBA and it

The name OLA with respect to religion

There are three major religions among the Yorubas. There are the Christians, the Muslims and the traditional worshippers. Each of these religion have a version of the word OLA that they give their children.

Let’s take for example the traditional worshippers. OSUNFUNMILOLA. Some readers might consider this long but it isn’t. The beauty of the Yoruba is that we don’t just name our children some random names that nobody will be able to decipher the meaning. Most of our names, anyone can be able to tell the meaning or tell the circumstances around the birth of a person from the name alone. A Whiteman can name his children, John or Stone or JOHNSTONE.  What does that really mean?

Now for the name in question, OSUNFUNMILOLA, OSUN is a traditional god worshipped in the southwestern Nigerian state of OSUN. OSUN is the river goddess, the good type. Of course, the bad river goddess is YEMOJA who lures young men with her beauty, only to kill them afterward.

So, the word OSUN is the name of a river goddess, and the word FUNMI is to GIVE. Lastly, the word L’OLA means wealth.

So the name means the river goddess gifted me wealth.

The name OLA with respect to the Muslim faithful

Now, with the Muslims, the meaning becomes blurred as you cannot readily distinguish if this name is Muslim or Christian name. The beauty of Yoruba names is that you can usually know the meaning right off, apart from that, you can also tell the religion of a child’s parent from their name alone.

The Muslim version of the name can take the form OLAITAN. What this means is the wealth doesn’t finish or a version of “I hope the wealth doesn’t finishes.”

To be fair, this name can also be of a child whose parents are Christians. I personally have a friend whose name is OLAITAN. The other thing is that you can’s decipher the gender of the child given this name

The name OLA as it related to Christians

OLAMIDE is quite a popular name among the Christians of Nigeria of Yoruba extraction. But this name can also belong to Muslims. What this name translates to is “my wealth has arrived.”

However, a version of the name OLA can also mean GRACE. Some strictly Christian names could be OLAOLUWA. The word OLUWA means God, so the name means the GRACE of the LORD or the grace of God. The word OLAOLUWA can also be shortened to OLAOLU.

There is also a neutral version of names that contain OLA. An example of this is OLAOSEBIKAN. Don’t bother about the long name, what this essentially means is that wealth is not limited to one person.

Why the name OLA is so Popular

OLA is one of the most popular if not the most popular names of the Yoruba people. However, the name on its own barely has any relatable meaning and it is often mixed with other names adding flare and color to its meaning.

However, people usually just shorten the name for convenience.

You may also check out my other article on the name OLUWA.

Why do Yoruba names starts with OLA

The word OLA can appear in the beginning as well as at the end of a Yoruba name. It really doesn’t have a position. But it certainly rarely occurs in the middle. Lastly, the name OLA on its own doesn’t have so much meaning as a standalone name. It is usually attached to other things.


  • Abbey

    Abbey Johnson has a Masters degree as an engineer and has over 3 years of teaching and research experience. He is happiest when on a bike and is also interested in electric energy and computer Science.

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