African Names

African names are used in various places on the continent of Africa. See also about African names.
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LUNGILE f & m Southern African, Zulu, Ndebele
Means "correct, right, good" in Zulu and Ndebele.
MADALITSO m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "blessings" in Chewa.
MAHAMADOU m Western African
Form of MUHAMMAD used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
MAINA m Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "sing, dance" in Kikuyu. Kikuyu males were traditionally organized into age sets or generations, each lasting about 30 years. The Maina generation occupied the last part of the 19th century.
MAKENA f & m Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "happy one" in Kikuyu.
MAMADOU m Western African
Form of MUHAMMAD used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
MAMADU m Western African
Form of MUHAMMAD used in western Africa (Guinea-Bissau).
MANDLA m Southern African, Zulu, Ndebele
Means "strength, power" in Zulu and Ndebele.
MANDLENKOSI m Southern African, Zulu, Ndebele
From Zulu and Ndebele amandla "strength, power" and inkosi "king, chief".
MANYARA f Southern African, Shona
Means "you have been humbled" in Shona.
MARIETJIE f Southern African, Afrikaans
Afrikaans diminutive of MARIA.
MARJANI f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "coral" in Swahili, originally a borrowing from Arabic.
MASAMBA m Eastern African, Yao
Means "leaves, vegetables" in Yao.
MASEGO f Southern African, Tswana
Means "blessings" in Tswana.
MASOZI m & f Southern African, Tumbuka
Means "tears" in Tumbuka.
MAVUTO m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "troubles, problems" in Chewa.
MAWULI m Western African, Ewe
Means "God lives" in Ewe.
MAWUNYO m & f Western African, Ewe
Means "God is good" in Ewe.
MAYAMIKO m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "praise, gratitude" in Chewa.
MAYESO m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "test (from God)" in Chewa.
MBALENHLE f Southern African, Zulu
From Zulu imbali "flower" and hle "beautiful".
MBALI f Southern African, Zulu
Means "flower" in Zulu.
MCHUMBA f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "sweetheart" in Swahili.
MEKLIT f Eastern African, Amharic
Means "talent" in Amharic.
MELISIZWE m Southern African, Xhosa
Means "leader of the nation" in Xhosa.
METI f Eastern African, Oromo
Means "umbrella" in Oromo.
MINENHLE f & m Southern African, Zulu
From Zulu imini "day" and hle "beautiful".
MIREMBE f Eastern African, Ganda
Means "peace" in Luganda.
MODOU m Western African
Short form of MAMADOU.
MOJISOLA f Western African, Yoruba
Means "wake up to wealth" in Yoruba.
MONIFA f Western African, Yoruba
Means "I am lucky" in Yoruba.
MOSI m Eastern African, Swahili
Means "first (child)" in Swahili.
MOTI m Eastern African, Oromo
Means "leader" in Oromo.
MOUSSA m Arabic, Western African
Alternate transcription of Arabic موسى (see MUSA), as well as the form commonly used in western Africa.
MOUSTAPHA m Western African
Form of MUSTAFA used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
MPHATSO m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "gift" in Chewa.
MPHO m & f Southern African, Tswana, Sotho
Means "gift" in Tswana and Sotho, a derivative of fa "to offer".
MTENDERE m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "peace" in Chewa.
MUBIRU m Eastern African, Ganda
Meaning unknown. This is the name of a figure in Ganda mythology associated with forests and hunting.
MUDIWA f & m Southern African, Shona
Means "beloved" in Shona.
MUHAMMADU m Western African, Hausa, Fula
Hausa and Fula form of MUHAMMAD.
MUKAMI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Possibly means "the one who milks the cows" in Kikuyu.
MUMBI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "she who shapes" in Kikuyu. In Kikuyu mythology Mumbi was the wife of Gikuyu and the mother of his nine daughters.
MUNASHE m & f Southern African, Shona
Means "with God" in Shona.
MUTHONI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "mother-in-law" in Kikuyu.
MWANAJUMA f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "born on Friday" in Swahili.
MWANGI m Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "rapid expansion" in Kikuyu. Kikuyu males were traditionally organized into age sets or generations. The Mwangi generation started around the beginning of the 20th century and lasted for about 30 years.
MWENYE m Eastern African, Swahili
Means "owner, lord" in Swahili.
NAFULA f Eastern African, Luhya
Feminine form of WAFULA.
NAKATO f Eastern African, Ganda
Means "second of twins" in Luganda.
NALIAKA f Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born during the weeding season", from Luhya liliaka meaning "weeding".
NANJALA f Eastern African, Luhya
Feminine form of WANJALA.
NASIMIYU f Eastern African, Luhya
Feminine form of SIMIYU.
NDIDI m & f Western African, Igbo
Means "patience" in Igbo.
NEKESA f Eastern African, Luhya
Feminine form of WEKESA.
NEO (1) f & m Southern African, Tswana
Means "gift" in Tswana, a derivative of naya "to give".
NGOZI f & m Western African, Igbo
Means "blessing" in Igbo.
NIA (2) f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "purpose" in Swahili.
NJERI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "travelling one" in Kikuyu. Njeri (or Wanjeri) is the name of one of the nine daughters of Mumbi in the Kikuyu origin legend.
NJINGA m & f Central African, Mbundu
Possibly from a Bantu root meaning "to twist, to wrap" (kujinga in Kimbundu), alluding to the wrapping of the umbilical cord around the neck of the newborn. This name was borne by kings and queens of the African kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo, notably a 17th-century queen of Ndongo who resisted the Portuguese.
NKECHINYERE f Western African, Igbo
Means "what God has given" or "gift of God" in Igbo.
NKEMDILIM m & f Western African, Igbo
Means "let mine be mine" in Igbo.
NKIRUKA f Western African, Igbo
Means "the future is greater" in Igbo.
NKOSANA m Southern African, Xhosa
Means "prince" in Xhosa.
NKOSAZANA f Southern African, Xhosa
Means "princess" in Xhosa.
NKRUMA m & f Western African, Akan
Means "ninth born child" in Akan.
NNAMDI m Western African, Igbo
Means "my father is alive" in Igbo. This name is given to a child when it is believed that he is a reincarnation of his grandfather.
NNEKA f Western African, Igbo
Means "my mother is supreme" in Igbo.
NNENNA f Western African, Igbo
Means "father's mother" in Igbo. This name is sometimes given to a child when it is believed that she is a reincarnation of her paternal grandmother.
NNENNE f Western African, Igbo
Means "mother's mother" in Igbo. This name is sometimes given to a child when it is believed that she is a reincarnation of her maternal grandmother.
NOMUSA f Southern African, Ndebele
Means "merciful" in Ndebele.
NONHLE f Southern African, Xhosa
From the Xhosa feminine prefix no- combined with hle "beautiful".
NOSIPHO f Southern African, Zulu, Xhosa
From the Zulu and Xhosa feminine prefix no- combined with isipho "gift".
NOSIZWE f Southern African, Xhosa
From the Xhosa feminine prefix no- combined with isizwe "nation".
NOXOLO f Southern African, Xhosa, Ndebele
From the Xhosa and Ndebele feminine prefix no- combined with uxolo "peace".
NSIA m & f Western African, Akan
Means "sixth born child" in Akan.
NSONOWA m & f Western African, Akan
Means "seventh born child" in Akan.
NTHANDA m & f Southern African, Tumbuka
Means "star" in Tumbuka.
NTOMBI f Southern African, Zulu
Means "girl" in Zulu.
NTOMBIFUTHI f Southern African, Zulu
Means "a girl again" in Zulu.
NTOMBIZODWA f Southern African, Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele
Means "only girls", from Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele intombi "girl" and zodwa "only".
NURU f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "light" in Swahili, ultimately from Arabic نور (nur).
NWANNEKA f Western African, Igbo
Means "my siblings are supreme" in Igbo.
NYAMBURA f Eastern African, Kikuyu
From Kikuyu mbura meaning "rain". This is the name of one of the nine daughters of Mumbi in the Kikuyu origin legend.
NYARAI f Southern African, Shona
Means "be humble" in Shona.
NYONGESA m Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born on Saturday" in Luhya.
OBI m Western African, Igbo
Means "heart" in Igbo.
OCHIENG m Eastern African, Luo
Means "born when the sun shines", derived from Luo chieng meaning "sun".
ODHIAMBO m Eastern African, Luo
Means "born in the evening" in Luo.
OGECHUKWUKAMA f Western African, Igbo
Means "God's time is the best" in Igbo.
OGHENEKARO m & f Western African, Urhobo
Means "God first" in Urhobo.
OGHENEKEVWE m & f Western African, Urhobo
Means "God provided for me" in Urhobo.
OGHENERO m & f Western African, Urhobo
Means "God exists" in Urhobo.
OKAFOR m Western African, Igbo
Means "born on Afor" in Igbo, Afor being one of the days of the Igbo week.
OKEKE m Western African, Igbo
Means "born on Eke" in Igbo, Eke being one of the days of the Igbo week.
OKONKWO m Western African, Igbo
Means "born on Nkwo" in Igbo, Nkwo being one of the days of the Igbo week.
OKORIE m Western African, Igbo
Means "born on Orie" in Igbo, Orie being one of the days of the Igbo week.
OKORO m Western African, Urhobo
Means "man" in Urhobo.
OLABODE m Western African, Yoruba
Means "wealth returns" in Yoruba.
OLAMIDE m & f Western African, Yoruba
Means "my wealth has arrived" in Yoruba.
OLAMILEKAN m Western African, Yoruba
Means "my wealth is increased" in Yoruba.
OLANREWAJU m Western African, Yoruba
Means "my wealth is the future" or "my wealth is moving forward" in Yoruba.
OLAYINKA f & m Western African, Yoruba
Means "wealth surrounds me" in Yoruba.
OLUBUNMI f Western African, Yoruba
Means "gift of God" in Yoruba.
OLUCHI m & f Western African, Igbo
Means "God's work" in Igbo.
OLUFEMI m Western African, Yoruba
Means "God loves me" in Yoruba.
OLUFUNKE m & f Western African, Yoruba
Means "God has cared for" in Yoruba.
OLUFUNMILAYO f & m Western African, Yoruba
Means "God gave me joy" in Yoruba.
OLUFUNMILOLA f & m Western African, Yoruba
Means "God gives me wealth" in Yoruba.
OLUJIMI m Western African, Yoruba
Means "given by God" in Yoruba.
OLUKAYODE m Western African, Yoruba
Means "God brings happiness" in Yoruba.
OLUMIDE m Western African, Yoruba
Means "God has come" in Yoruba.
OLUWAKANYINSOLA m & f Western African, Yoruba
Means "God has added sweetness to my wealth" in Yoruba.
OLUWASEGUN m & f Western African, Yoruba
Means "God has been victorious" in Yoruba.
OLUWASEUN m & f Western African, Yoruba
Means "we thank God" in Yoruba.
OLUWASEYI f & m Western African, Yoruba
Means "God made this" in Yoruba.
OLUWATOYIN m & f Western African, Yoruba
Means "God is worthy to be praised" in Yoruba.
OLUWAYEMISI f & m Western African, Yoruba
Means "God honours me" in Yoruba.
OMOBOLANLE f & m Western African, Yoruba
Means "a child who met wealth at home" in Yoruba.
OMOLARA f Western African, Yoruba
Means "a child is family" in Yoruba.
OMONDI m Eastern African, Luo
Means "born early in the morning" in Luo.
ONI f Western African, Yoruba
Possibly means "born in sacred abode" in Yoruba.
ONYEKACHI f & m Western African, Igbo
Means "who is greater than God?" in Igbo.
ONYEKACHUKWU m & f Western African, Igbo
Means "who is greater than God?" in Igbo, a variant of ONYEKACHI using Chukwu as the last element, which is the extended form of Chi meaning "God".
OPEYEMI m & f Western African, Yoruba
Means "I should give praise" in Yoruba.
OTIENO m Eastern African, Luo
Means "born at night" in Luo.
OTOBONG m & f Western African, Ibibio
Means "from God" in Ibibio.
OUMAR m Western African
Form of UMAR used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
OUMAROU m Western African
Form of UMAR used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
OUSMANE m Western African
Form of UTHMAN used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
OYIBO m & f Western African, Urhobo
Means "white" in Urhobo.
PALESA f Southern African, Sotho
Means "flower" in Sotho.
PEMPHERO m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "prayer" in Chewa.
PENJANI m & f Southern African, Tumbuka
Means "seek for, look for" in Tumbuka.
PILIRANI m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "persevere, endure" in Chewa.
PULENG f Southern African, Sotho
Means "in the rain" in Sotho.
REFILWE m & f Southern African, Tswana
Means "we were given" in Tswana.
RUDO m & f Southern African, Shona
Means "love" in Shona.
RUFARO f Southern African, Shona
Means "happiness" in Shona.
RUMBIDZAI f Southern African, Shona
Means "praise" in Shona.
RUTENDO f & m Southern African, Shona
Means "faith" in Shona.
SALAMATU f Western African
Form of SALAMA used in western Africa.
SANAA (2) f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "artwork" in Swahili.
SANDILE m Southern African, Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele
Means "we increased" in Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele.
SAUDA f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "dark complexion" in Swahili.
SEBLE f Eastern African, Amharic
Means "harvest" in Amharic.
SEFU m Eastern African, Swahili
Means "sword" in Swahili, ultimately from Arabic سيف (sayf).
SEKAI f Southern African, Shona
Means "be humorous" in Shona.
SEKANI m Southern African, Tumbuka
Means "laugh" in Tumbuka.
SETHUNYA f Southern African, Tswana
Means "bloom, flower" in Tswana.
SEYDOU m Western African
Form of SA'ID used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
SEYNABOU f Western African
Form of ZAYNAB used in parts of western Africa (mostly Senegal).
SIBONAKALISO m & f Southern African, Zulu
From Zulu isibonakaliso meaning "sign, token, proof".
SIBONGILE f Southern African, Zulu, Ndebele
Means "we are thankful" in Zulu and Ndebele.
SIBUSISIWE f Southern African, Ndebele
Means "we are blessed" in Ndebele.
SIBUSISO m Southern African, Zulu, Swazi, Ndebele
Means "blessed" in Zulu, Swazi and Ndebele.
SIFISO m Southern African, Zulu
Means "wish" in Zulu.
SIMBA (1) m Southern African, Shona
Means "strength" in Shona.
SIMBA (2) m Eastern African, Swahili
Means "lion" in Swahili. This is the name of the main character in the Disney movie The Lion King (1994), about a lion cub who exiles himself after his father is murdered.
SIMISOLA f Western African, Yoruba
Means "rest in wealth" in Yoruba.
SIMIYU m Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born during the dry season" in Luhya.
SIPHO m Southern African, Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele
Means "gift" from Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele isipho.
SISAY m Eastern African, Amharic
Means "good omen" in Amharic.
SITHEMBILE f & m Southern African, Zulu
Means "we trust" in Zulu.
SIYABONGA m Southern African, Zulu, Ndebele
Means "we thank you" in Zulu and Ndebele.
SIZWE m Southern African, Xhosa
Means "nation" in Xhosa.
SOULEYMANE m Western African
Form of SULAYMAN used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
SSANYU f Eastern African, Ganda
Means "joy" in Luganda.
SUBIRA f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "patience" in Swahili.
TADALA m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "we have been blessed" in Chewa.
TADESSE m Eastern African, Amharic
Means "revived" in Amharic.
TAFADZWA m & f Southern African, Shona
Means "we are pleased" in Shona.
TAFARI m Eastern African, Amharic (Rare)
Possibly means "he who inspires awe" in Amharic. This name was borne by Lij Tafari Makonnen (1892-1975), also known as Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. Rastafarians (Ras Tafari meaning "king Tafari") revere him as the earthly incarnation of God.
TAJEDDIGT f Northern African, Berber
Means "flower" in Tamazight.
TAKONDWA m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "we are glad" in Chewa.
TAMANDANI m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "we have exalted" in Chewa.
TAMRAT m Eastern African, Amharic
Means "miracle" in Amharic.
TAONGA f & m Southern African, Tumbuka
Means "we are thankful" in Tumbuka.
TAPIWA f Southern African, Shona
Means "given" in Shona.
TARIKU m Eastern African, Amharic
Means "his history, his story" in Amharic.
TARIRO f Southern African, Shona
Means "hope" in Shona.
TATENDA m & f Southern African, Shona
Means "thank you" in Shona.
TAU m Southern African, Tswana, Sotho
Means "lion" in Tswana and Sotho. Tau was the name of the last ruler of the Rolong in South Africa (18th century).
TEBOHO m Southern African, Sotho
Means "gratitude" in Sotho.
TEMITOPE f & m Western African, Yoruba
Means "enough to give thanks" in Yoruba.
TENDAI m & f Southern African, Shona
Means "be thankful" in Shona.
TENDAJI m Eastern African, Swahili
Means "makes things happen" in Swahili.
TESFAYE m Eastern African, Amharic
From Amharic ተስፋ (tasfa) meaning "hope".
THABANI m Southern African, Zulu, Ndebele
Means "be happy" in Zulu and Ndebele.
THABO m Southern African, Tswana
Means "joy" in Tswana.
THANDEKA f Southern African, Zulu, Ndebele
Means "loved" in Zulu and Ndebele.
THANDIWE f Southern African, Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele
Means "loving one" in Xhosa, Zulu and Ndebele, from thanda "to love".
THANDO m & f Southern African, Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele
From Xhosa, Zulu and Ndebele thanda meaning "to love".
THEMA f Western African, Akan
Means "queen" in Akan.
THEMBA m Southern African, Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele
Means "trust, hope" in Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele.
THOKO m & f Southern African, Chewa
Short form of THOKOZANI.
THOKOZANI m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "thank" in Chewa.
THULANI m Southern African, Zulu
Means "be quiet, be peaceful" in Zulu.
THULILE f Southern African, Zulu
Means "quiet, peaceful" in Zulu.
TICHAONA m Southern African, Shona
Means "we will see" in Shona.
TIDIR f Northern African, Berber
Feminine form of IDIR.
TIFAWT f Northern African, Berber
Means "light" in Tamazight.
TINASHE m & f Southern African, Shona
Means "we are with God", from Shona ti "we", na "with", and ishe "lord, God".
TIONGE f & m Southern African, Tumbuka
Means "let us be thankful" in Tumbuka.
TITILAYO f Western African, Yoruba
Means "eternal happiness" in Yoruba.
TITRIT f Northern African, Berber
Feminine form of ITRI.
TIYAMIKE m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "we praise" in Chewa.
TSHOLOFELO f Southern African, Tswana
Means "hope, expectation" in Tswana.
TUMELO m & f Southern African, Sotho, Tswana
Means "faith" in Sotho and Tswana.
UDO (2) f & m Western African, Igbo
Means "peace" in Igbo.
UDUAK m & f Western African, Ibibio
Means "will, desire" in Ibibio.
UDUAKOBONG m & f Western African, Ibibio
Means "God's will" in Ibibio.
UFUOMA m & f Western African, Urhobo
Means "peace of mind" in Urhobo.
UMARU m Western African
Form of UMAR used in western Africa.
UMUKORO m Western African, Urhobo
Means "young man" in Urhobo.
UNATHI m & f Southern African, Xhosa
Means "he or she is with us" in Xhosa, from the prefix u- meaning "he, she" and nathi meaning "with us".
UZOCHI m Western African, Igbo
Means "God's way" in Igbo.
UZOMA m & f Western African, Igbo
Means "good way" in Igbo.
WAFULA m Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born during the rainy season", from Luhya ifula meaning "rainy season".
WAIRIMU f Eastern African, Kikuyu
From Kikuyu irimũ meaning "ogre, giant". In the Kikuyu origin legend Wairimu is of one of the nine daughters of Mumbi.
WAMALWA m Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born during the brewing season" in Luhya.
WAMBUI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Means "zebra" in Kikuyu. This is one of Mumbi's nine daughters in the Kikuyu origin legend.
WANANGWA m & f Southern African, Tumbuka
Means "freedom" in Tumbuka.
WANGARI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
From Kikuyu ngarĩ meaning "leopard". In the Kikuyu origin legend this is the name of one of the nine daughters of Mumbi.
WANGUI f Eastern African, Kikuyu
From Kikuyu ngũi meaning "song leader". This is one of Mumbi's nine daughters in the Kikuyu origin legend.
WANJALA m Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born during famine", from Luhya injala meaning "hunger, famine".
WANJIKU f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Meaning unknown. This is one of Mumbi's nine daughters in the Kikuyu origin legend.
WANJIRU f Eastern African, Kikuyu
Possibly from Kikuyu njĩra meaning "way, path". In the Kikuyu origin legend this is the name of one of the nine daughters of Mumbi.
WANYONYI m Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born during the weeding season", from Luhya enyonyi meaning "weeds".
WASSWA m Eastern African, Ganda
Means "first of twins" in Luganda.
WEKESA m Eastern African, Luhya
Means "born during harvest" in Luhya.
WERKNESH f Eastern African, Amharic
Alternate transcription of Amharic ወርቅነሽ (see WORKNESH).
WORKNEH m Eastern African, Amharic
Means "you are gold", from Amharic ወርቅ (warq) meaning "gold".
XAAWO f Eastern African, Somali
Somali form of EVE.
XALIIMA f Eastern African, Somali
Somali feminine form of HALIM.
XASAN m Eastern African, Somali
Somali form of HASAN.
XOLANI m Southern African, Zulu
Means "peace" in Zulu.
YAA f Western African, Akan
Means "born on Thursday" in Akan.
YACOUBA m Western African
Form of YAQUB used in parts of French-influenced western Africa.
YAMIKANI m & f Southern African, Chewa
Means "be grateful, praise" in Chewa.
YAO m Western African, Ewe
Means "born on Thursday" in Ewe.
YARED m Biblical Hebrew, Eastern African, Ethiopian
Hebrew form of JARED. This form is also used in Ethiopia. It was borne by a semi-legendary 6th-century Ethiopian musician who is considered a saint in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
YAW m Western African, Akan
Means "born on Thursday" in Akan.
YEJIDE f Western African, Yoruba
Means "image of the mother" in Yoruba.
YETUNDE f Western African, Yoruba
Means "mother has returned" in Yoruba.
YEWANDE f Western African, Yoruba
Means "mother has returned" in Yoruba.
YEWUBDAR f Eastern African, Amharic
Means "beautiful beyond limits" from Amharic ውብ (wb) meaning "beautiful" and ዳር (dar) meaning "limit, horizon, frontier, shore".
YUUSUF m Eastern African, Somali
Somali form of Yosef (see JOSEPH).
ZEPHANIA m Southern African
Variant of ZEPHANIAH. This form of the name appears to be used in southern Africa.
ZIKOMO m Southern African, Chewa
Means "thank you" in Chewa.
ZOLA (2) f & m Southern African, Xhosa
From the Xhosa root -zola meaning "calm".
ZUBERI m Eastern African, Swahili
Means "strong" in Swahili.
ZURI f Eastern African, Swahili
Means "beautiful" in Swahili.
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