"Obama" is a name from the Luo ethnic group of southwestern Kenya, where Barack Obama, Sr. was born. It was originally the given name of Barack Obama's great-grandfather. It is based on the Luo (technically, Dholuo, the name of the language of the Luo) word bam, which means "crooked, slightly bending."
The prefix O- means "he," and many Luo male names begin with it. Since most traditional Luo names were given by the baby's mother referring to something about the child's birth, the best guess is that when Obama's great-grandfather was born, one of his arms or legs looked slightly bent. Email rumors have charged that U.S. President Barack Obama is a practing Muslim -- a rumor that has since been proven false. However, President Obama does have an unusual name, which reflects his African Muslim heritage. He was reportedly named after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.
The president's first name, Barack, is a Swahili name that has its origins in Arabic. The original Arabic root of the name (B-R-K) means "blessed." In Arabic, the root word is used in many other phrases to denote blessings and to describe people who are blessed:
- Mabruk! = "Congratulations!"
- Barakallah feek = "May God bless you"
- Barakah = blessings from God (feminine version of the name)
Obama's middle name is Hussein, which was his grandfather's first name. The name, of Arabic origin, means "good" or "handsome one." It is common in Muslim cultures for children (both boys and girls) to have a middle name, which directly connects them to their father or grandfather.
Obama's surname is not uncommon among the Luo tribe, one of the three largest ethnic groups in Kenya. They speak the Dhoulou language.
What is the meaning of the name 'Obama'