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Akan names

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The Akan people of Ghana frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. These "day names" have further meanings concerning the soul and character of the person. Middle names have considerably more variety and can refer to their birth order, twin status, or an ancestor's middle name.

This naming tradition is shared throughout West Africa and the African diaspora. During the 18th–19th centuries, enslaved people in the Caribbean from the region that is modern-day Ghana were referred to as Coromantees. Many of the leaders of enslaved people's rebellions had "day names" including Cuffy, Cuffee or Kofi, Cudjoe or Kojo, Quao or Quaw, and Quamina or Kwame/Kwamina.

Most Ghanaians have at least one name from this system, even if they also have an English or Christian name. Notable figures with day names include Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In the official orthography of the Twi language, the Ashanti versions of these names as spoken in Kumasi are as follows. The diacritics on á a̍ à represent high, mid, and low tone (tone does not need to be marked on every vowel), while the diacritic on a̩ is used for vowel harmony and can be ignored. (Diacritics are frequently dropped in any case.) Variants of the names are used in other languages, or may represent different transliteration schemes. The variants mostly consist of different affixes (in Ashanti, kwa- or ko- for men and a- plus -a or -wa for women). For example, among the Fante, the prefixes are kwe-, kwa or ko for men and e-, arespectively. Akan d̩wo or jo(Fante) is pronounced something like English Joe, but there do appear to be two sets of names for those born on Monday.

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Akan people

Akan people

The Akan people live primarily in present-day Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa. The Akan language are a group of dialects within the Central Tano branch of the Potou–Tano subfamily of the Niger–Congo family. Subgroups of the Akan people include: the Agona, Akuapem, Akwamu, Akyem, Ashanti, Bono, Fante, Kwahu, Wassa, and Ahanta. The Akan subgroups all have cultural attributes in common; most notably the tracing of matrilineal descent, inheritance of property, and succession to high political office.

Ghana

Ghana

Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa. It abuts the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, sharing borders with Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, and Togo in the east. Ghana covers an area of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), spanning diverse biomes that range from coastal savannas to tropical rainforests. With nearly 31 million inhabitants, Ghana is the second-most populous country in West Africa, after Nigeria. The capital and largest city is Accra; other major cities are Kumasi, Tamale, and Sekondi-Takoradi.

African diaspora

African diaspora

The African diaspora is the worldwide collection of communities descended from native Africans or people from Africa, predominantly in the Americas. The term most commonly refers to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas via the Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries, with their largest populations in the United States, Brazil and Haiti. However, the term can also be used to refer to the descendants of North Africans who immigrated to other parts of the world. Some scholars identify "four circulatory phases" of this migration out of Africa. The phrase African diaspora gradually entered common usage at the turn of the 21st century. The term diaspora originates from the Greek διασπορά which gained popularity in English in reference to the Jewish diaspora before being more broadly applied to other populations.

Cuffee

Cuffee

Cuffee, Cuffey, or Coffey is a first name and surname recorded in African-American culture, believed to be derived from the Akan language name Kofi, meaning "born on a Friday". This was noted as one of the most common male names of West African origin which was retained by some American slaves.

Cudjoe

Cudjoe

Cudjoe, Codjoe or Captain Cudjoe, sometimes spelled Cudjo – corresponding to the Akan day name Kojo, Codjoe or Kwadwo – was a Maroon leader in Jamaica during the time of Nanny of the Maroons. In Twi, Cudjoe or Kojo is the name given to a boy born on a Monday. He has been described as "the greatest of the Maroon leaders."

Quao

Quao

Quao was one of the leaders of the Windward Maroons, who fought the British colonial forces of Jamaica to a standstill during the First Maroon War of the 1730s. The name Quao is probably a variation of Yaw, which is the Twi Akan name given to a boy born on a Thursday.

Quamina

Quamina

Quamina Gladstone, most often referred to simply as Quamina, was a Guyanese slave from Africa and father of Jack Gladstone. He and his son were involved in the Demerara rebellion of 1823, one of the largest slave revolts in the British colonies before slavery was abolished.

Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah was a Ghanaian politician, political theorist, and revolutionary. He was the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, having led the Gold Coast to independence from Britain in 1957. An influential advocate of Pan-Africanism, Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and winner of the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union in 1962.

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Kofi Atta Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from 1997 to 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organisation founded by Nelson Mandela.

Kumasi

Kumasi

Kumasi is a city in the Ashanti Region, and is among the largest metropolitan areas in Ghana. Kumasi is located in a rain forest region near Lake Bosomtwe, and is the commercial, industrial and cultural capital of the historical Ashanti Empire. Kumasi is approximately 500 kilometres (300 mi) north of the Equator and 200 kilometres (100 mi) north of the Gulf of Guinea. Kumasi is alternatively known as "The Garden City" because of its many species of flowers and plants in the past. It is also called Oseikrom.

Affix

Affix

In linguistics, an affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word or word form. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes. Affixation is the linguistic process that speakers use to form different words by adding morphemes at the beginning (prefixation), the middle (infixation) or the end (suffixation) of words.

Fante people

Fante people

The Mfantsefo or Fante are an Akan people. The Fante people are mainly located in the Central and Western coastal regions of Ghana. Over the last half century, due to fishing expeditions, Fante communities are found as far as Gambia, Liberia and even Angola. Major Fante cities in modern Ghana include Kasoa, Winneba, Agona Swedru, Tarkwa, Oguaa, Edina (Elmina), Mankessim, Sekondi and Takoradi.

Day names

Day born Fante Variants Root Assoc.[1] Jamaican / Fante names[2]
Male name Female name Ndyuka
Sunday
(Kwesida)
Kwesi Akosua, Esi Awusi, Asi, Esi, Kwasi, Siisi, Akwasi, Kosi;
Akasi, Akosi, Akosiwa, Kwasiba
Kwasi, Kwasiba Asi Universe Quashie, Quasheba
Monday
(Jowda)
Kwadwo Adwoa Kodjó, Kojo, Jojo, Cudjoe;
Adjua, Ajwoba, Adwoba, Adjoa, Adjowa
Kodyo, Adyuba Dwo Peace Cudjoe, Quajo, Adjoa, Ajuba, Juba
Tuesday
(Benada)
Kwabena, Ebo Abena Komlá, Komlã, Komlan, Kabenla, Kobby, Ebo, Kobi, Kobina;
Ablá, Ablã, Abenaa, Araba, Abrema
Abeni Bene Ocean Quabena, Abena, Bena
Wednesday
(Wukuda)
Kweku, Yooku Akua Kukuuwa Koku, Kokou, Kwaku, Abeiku, Kaku, Kuuku;
Akuba, Akú, Ekua
Kwaku, Akuba Wukuo Spider, Quaco, Aqua, Acooba, Cooba
Thursday
(Yahwada)
Yaw Yaa Yao, Yawo, Yawu, Yawa, Ayawa, Kwaw;
Yaa, Yaaba, Yaba, Aaba, Abina, Ekow, Kow
Yaw, Yaba Ya Earth Quaw, Quao, Aba, Yaaba
Friday
(Fida)
Kofi Afua Fiifi, Yoofi;
Afí, Afua, Afiba, Afia, Efua, Efe
Kofi, Afiba Afi Fertility Cuffy, Cuffee, Afiba, Fiba
Saturday
(Memeneda)
Kwamena Amba, Ama Kwami, Kuw-ame, Kw-ame, Kw-amina, Komi;
Ame, Ami, Amba, Ameyo
Kwami, Amba Amene God Quame, Quamina, Ama

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Afro-Jamaicans

Afro-Jamaicans

Afro-Jamaicans are Jamaicans of predominant Sub-Saharan African descent. They represent the largest ethnic group in the country. Most Jamaicans of mixed-race descent self-report as just Jamaican.

Kwesi

Kwesi

Kwesi is a Ghanaian male given name. In the Ghanaian tradition of "day names", it refers to children born on a Sunday. Notable people with this name include:Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu, Togolese politician Kwesi Ahwoi, Ghanaian politician Kwesi Akomia Kyeremateng, Ghanaian politician Kwesi Akwansah Andam (1946–2007), Ghanaian academic Kwesi Amissah-Arthur (1951–2018), Ghanaian economist, academic and politician Kwesi Amoako Atta, Ghanaian lawyer, management consultant and politician Kwesi Amoako-Atta (1920–1983), Ghanaian banker and politician Kwesi Appiah, Ghanaian football player Kwesi Armah (1929–2006), Ghanaian politician and diplomat Kwesi Arthur, Ghanaian musician Kwesi Boakye, American actor, voice actor and singer Kwesi Botchwey, Ghanaian politician Kwesi Brew (1928–2007), Ghanaian poet and diplomat Kwesi Browne, Trinidad and Tobago male track cyclist, representing Trinidad and Tobago at competitions Kwesi Dickson (1929-2005), Ghanaian theologian Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jamaican-British musician Kwesi Nyantakyi, Ghanaian banker Kwesi Plange (1926-1953), Ghanaian politician Kwesi Prah, Ghanaian author Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Ghanaian journalist Kwesi Sinclair, Guyanese cricket player Kwesi Slay, Ghanaian hip hop artist Kwesi Wilson Kwesi Yankah, Ghanaian academic, author and university administrator

Akosua

Akosua

Akosua is an Akan given name to a female child born on Sunday (Kwasiada). Although some might believe it is mostly practised by the Ashanti people, it is actually practised by all Akan people who follow traditional customs. People born on particular days are supposed to exhibit the characteristics or attributes and philosophy, associated with the days. Akosua has the appellation Dampo meaning agility. Thus, females named Akosua are supposed to be agile.

Kwadwo

Kwadwo

Kwadwo/Kwadjo/Kojo is an Akan masculine given name originating from the Akan people, meaning born on a Monday. As an Akan given name, with the Akans being a large ethnic group consisting of various tribes such as the Fante, Asante, Akuapem among others, Kwadwo/Kwadjo is sometimes written as "Kojo", Kwadwo or Kwadjo and is also used less frequently as a family name. People born on particular days are supposed to exhibit the characteristics or attributes and philosophy, associated with the days. Kwadwo has the appellation Okoto or Asera meaning peace. Thus, males named Kwodwo tend to be peaceful.

Adwoa

Adwoa

Adwoa is a given name used for women born on Monday in Western Africa, particularly Ghana and some parts of Togo, southern Benin and Ivory Coast. Day names are a cultural practice of the Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Although some might believe it is mostly practiced by Ashanti people, it is actually practiced by all Akan people who follow traditional customs. People born on particular days are supposed to exhibit the characteristics or attributes and philosophy, associated with the days. Adwoa has the appellation Badwo or Akoto meaning peace. Thus, females named Adwoa are supposed to be peaceful.

Cudjoe

Cudjoe

Cudjoe, Codjoe or Captain Cudjoe, sometimes spelled Cudjo – corresponding to the Akan day name Kojo, Codjoe or Kwadwo – was a Maroon leader in Jamaica during the time of Nanny of the Maroons. In Twi, Cudjoe or Kojo is the name given to a boy born on a Monday. He has been described as "the greatest of the Maroon leaders."

Kwabena

Kwabena

Kwabena is an Akan masculine given name among the Akan people in Ghana that means "born on a Tuesday" in Akan language, following their day naming system. People born on particular days are supposed to exhibit the characteristics or attributes and philosophy, associated with the days. Kwabena has the appellation Ogyam or Ebo meaning friendliness. Thus, males named Kwabena are supposed to be friendly.

Abena

Abena

Abena is an Indian (Gujarati) surname; the Gujarati અબેના (Abēnā) possibly came from the Arabic name أبين (Abyan). As a given name, it is a girl's name of Ghanaian origin and means born on Tuesday. Day names are a cultural practice of the Akan people of Ghana. Although some might believe it is mostly practised by Ashanti people, it is actually practised by all Akan people who follow traditional customs. People born on particular days are supposed to exhibit the characteristics or attributes and philosophy, associated with the days. Abena has the appellation Kosia or Nimo, meaning friendliness. Thus, females named Abena are supposed to be friendly.

Akua

Akua

Akua is an Akan female given name among the Akan people in Ghana that means "born on a Wednesday" in Akan language, following their day naming system. People born on particular days are supposed to exhibit the characteristics or attributes and philosophy, associated with the days. Akua has the appellation ''Obirisuo'', ''Obisi'' or ''Odaakuo'' meaning evil.

Kwaku

Kwaku

Kwaku, is an Akan given name for male children born on Wednesday to the Akan and Ewe ethnic groups. Historically, Akan birthday names are associated with appellations that give an indication of the character of people born on such days. Typical appellations for Kwaku are Atobi, Daaku or Bonsam meaning evil.

Anansi

Anansi

Anansi is an Akan folktale character and the Akan God of Stories, Wisdom, Knowledge, and possibly creation. The form of a spider is the most common depiction of Anansi. He is also, sometimes considered to be God of all knowledge of stories. Taking the role of trickster, he is also one of the most important characters of West African, African American and West Indian folklore. Originating in Ghana, West Africa, these spider tales were transmitted to the Caribbean by way of the transatlantic slave trade. Anansi is best known for his ability to outsmart and triumph over more powerful opponents through his use of cunning, creativity and wit. Despite taking on the role of the trickster, Anansi's actions and parables often carry him as protagonist due to his ability to transform his apparent weaknesses into virtues. He is among several West African tricksters including Br'er Rabbit and Leuk Rabbit.

Kofi

Kofi

Kofi is an Akan masculine given name among the Akan people in Ghana that is given to a boy born on Friday. Traditionally in Ghana, a child would receive their Akan day name during their Outdooring, eight days after birth.

Twin names

There are also special names for elder and younger twins. The second twin to be born is considered the elder as they were mature enough to help their sibling out first. (The definition above must be a regional concept because in Cape Coast, heart of Fanti land, the elder twin is the one who comes out first, the second twin is considered the younger one. Therefore, The younger twin would be Kakra; the older twin would be Panyin.)

The word Panyin means older/elder. Kakra is short for Kakraba which means little/younger one. The definition/description below for the meaning of younger and an elder are backwards or vice versa.

Twin Male name Female name Variants
Twin Atá Ataá Atta
First born ("younger"[3] twin) Ata Panyin Ataá Panyin Panyin
Second born ("elder" twin) Ata kakra Kakra, Kakraba
Born after twins Tawia
Born after Tawia Gaddo Nyankómàgó

Birth-order names

There are also names based on the order of birth, the order born after twins, and the order born after remarriage.

Order Male name Female name
First born Píèsíe
Second born Mǎnu Máanu
Third born Meńsã́ Mánsã
Fourth born Anan, Anané
Fifth born Núm, Anúm
Sixth born Esĩã́
Seventh born Esuón Nsṍwaa
Eighth born Bótwe
Ninth born Ákron, Nkróma Nkróma Nkrũmãh
Tenth born Badú Badúwaa
Eleventh born Dúkũ
Twelfth born Dúnu
Thirteenth born Adusa
Fourteenth born Agyeman
Last born Kaakyire

Special delivery

Children are also given names when delivered under special circumstances.

Circumstance Male/Female name Translation
on the field Efum "The field"
on the road Ɔkwán "The road"
in war Bekṍe, Bedíàkṍ "war time"
happy circumstances Afriyie/Afiríyie "good year"
one who loves Adofo "the special one from God, warrior"
great one Agyenim "the great one from God"
after long childlessness Nyamékyε "gift from God"
premature or sickly Nyaméama "what God has given (no man can take away)"
forceful Kumi "forcefulness"
after death of father Antó "it didn't meet him"
father refuses
responsibility
Obím̀pέ "nobody wants"
Yεmpέw "we don't want you"

Family names

Ashanti people given-names are concluded with a family name (surname) preceded by a given name.[4][5] The family name (surname) are always given after close relatives and sometimes friends.[4][5] Since Ashanti names are always given by the men, if a couple receives a son as their first born-baby then the son is named after the father of the husband and if the baby is a girl then she will be named after the mother of the husband.[4][5] As a result, if the man is called Osei Kofi and his wife gives birth to a girl as their first born, the girl may be called Yaa Dufie even if she was not born on Friday.[4][5] The reason is that the mother of the husband (Osei Kofi) is called Yaa Dufie.[4][5] The Ashanti people usually give these names so that the names of close relatives be maintained in the families to show the love for their families.[4][5]

In the olden days of Ashanti it was a disgrace if an Ashanti man was not able to name any child after his father and/or mother because that was the pride of every Ashanti household.[4][5] Most of the ethnic-Ashanti family name (surname) given to boys could also be given to girls just by adding the letters "aa".[4][5] Some Ashanti family names (surnames) can be given to both boys and girls without changing or adding anything.[4][5] However, there are other ethnic-Ashanti family name (surnames) that are exclusively male names, while others are exclusively female names.[4][5]

Ethnic-Ashanti family names (surnames)[4][5][6]
# Ethnic-Ashanti family name[4][5][6] # Ethnic-Ashanti family name[4][5][6] # Ethnic-Ashanti family name [4][5][6]
1 Abeberese 84 Baafi 168 Mensah
2|Marfo Abeyie 85 Baah 169 Mintah
3 Aboagye 86 Bafuor 170 Misa
4 Aboah 87 Baffoe 171 Mmorosa
5 Aborah 88 Baako 172 Mpong
6 Aborampah 89 Baidoo 173 Munuo
7 Abrafi 90 Barwuah 174 Narh
8 Abrefa 91 Banahene 175 Nduom
9 Acheampong 92 Bediako 176 Nimo Nimoh
10 Achamfour 93 Bekoe 177 Nkansa Nkansah
11 Acquah 94 Bemah 178 Nkrumah
12 Adade 95 Boadi 179 Nsiah
13 Addai 96 Boadu 180 Nsonwah Nsonwaa
14 Addo 97 Boahen 181 Nsor
15 Adiyiah 98 Boakye 182 Ntiamoa Ntiamoah
16 Adomah 99 Boamah 183 Ntim
17 Adomako 100 Boampong 184 Ntow
18 Adusei 101 Boasiako 185 Nuako
19 Adwubi 102 Boateng 186 Nkruamah
20 Afoakwah 103 Boatei 187 Nyamekye
21 Afreh 104 Bonah 188 Nyantah
22 Afram 105 Bonsu 189 Nyantakyi
23 Afrane 106 Bonsra Bonsrah 190 Nyarko
24 Afrakoma Afrakomah 107 Brempong 191 Obeng Oteng
25 Afrifa Afirifa 108 Busia Busiah 192 Obuor
26 Afriyie 109 Cofie Cuffee Kofi 193 Oduro
27 Afful 110 Crentsil 194 Ofori
28 Ahinful 111 Daako Darko 195 Ofosu
29 Arkorful 112 Dankwah Danquah 196 Ogyampah
30 Agyapong 113 Danso 197 Ohemeng
31 Agyare 114 Dapaa Dapaah Depay 198 Ohene
32 Agyei 115 Diawuo 199 Okese
33 Agyeman Agyemang 116 Donkor Donkoh Dontoh 200 Okoromansah
34 Aidoo 117 Domfe 201 Okyere
35 Akenten Akenteng 118 Dorkenoo 202 Omenah Omenaa
36 Akomeah 119 Duah 203 Opambuor
37 Akomfrah 120 Dufie 204 Opare
38 Akosah 121 Duodu 205 Opoku
39 Akoto 122 Dwamena Dwamenah 206 Oppong
40 Akuamoah 123 Dwomoh 207 Opuni
41 Akuffo 124 Ekuoba 208 Osafo
42 Akrofi 125 Enninful 209 Osam
43 Akyaw 126 Essien 210 Otuo
44 Amakye 127 Farkyi 211 Osei
45 Amamfo 128 Firikyi 212 Owoahene
46 Amankona Amankonah 129 Fofie 213 Owusu
47 Amankwah 130 Fokuo 214 Oyiakwan
48 Ameyaw 131 Fordjour 215 Paintsil
49 Amissah 132 Forobuor 216 Pappoe
50 Amoabeng 133 Fredua Freduah 217 Peprah
51 Amoah 134 Fremah 218 Pinaman
52 Amoako 135 Frimpong Frempon Frempong 219 Poku
53 Amoateng 136 Gyakari 220 Prempeh
54 Amofah 137 Gyan Djan Djansi 221 Quainoo
55 Ampadu 138 Gyamera Gyamerah 222 Quansah
56 Ampem 139 Gyamah Gyaama 223 Safo Sarfo
57 Ampofo 140 Gyamfi 224 Sakyi
58 Amponsah 141 Gyambibi 225 Sarkodie
59 Amponsem 142 Gyasi 226 Sarpei Yartei
60 Andoh 143 Gyeabuor 227 Sarpon Sarpong
61 Ankobiah 144 Gyimah 228 Sasraku
62 Ankomah 145 Inkoom 229 Siabuor
63 Ankrah 146 Karikari 230 Siaw
147 Katakyie 231 Sika
65 Anokye 148 Kenu 232 Sikafuo
66 Ansah 149 Koduah 233 Sintim
67 Apori Antwi 150 Kokote 234 Siriboe
68 Apau 151 Konadu 235 Soadwa Soadwah
69 Appiah 152 Koranten Koranteng 236 Sowah
70 Asamoah 153 Korsah 237 Tagoe
71 Asante Asantewaa 154 Kouassi 238 Takyi
72 Asare 155 Kufuor Kuffour 239 Tandoh
73 Asenso 156 Kumankama 240 Tawiah
74 Ashia 157 Kusi Kusiwaa 241 Tuffour
Tutu
75 Asiamah 158 Kwaata 242 Twasam
76 Asiedu 159 Kwakye 243 Tweneboa Tweneboah
77 Asomadu 160 Kwateng Kwarteng 244 Twerefuo
77 Asomaning 161 Kwayie 245 Twum Twumasi
79 Asubonteng 163 Kyekyeku 247 Wiafe Wiredu
Assumin Assuming Kyem
80 Ayeh 164 Kyereme 248 Yamoah
81 Ayensu 165 Kyerematen Kyeremateng 249 Yankah
82 Ayew 166 Kyerewa Kyerewaa 250 Yeboah
83 Awuah 167 Manso 251 Yiadom

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Source: "Akan names", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akan_names.

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References
  1. ^ Bartle, Philip F. W. (January 1978). "Forty Days: The Akan Calendar". Africa: Journal of the International African Institute. Edinburgh University Press. 48 (1): 80–84. doi:10.2307/1158712. JSTOR 1158712.
  2. ^ Neita, Lance, "So what's in a name?", Jamaica Observer, 30 August 2014.
  3. ^ For the Akan, the first-born twin is considered the younger, as the elder is thought to have stayed behind to help the younger out.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "List of Ashanti (Twi, Asante) Names". afropedea.org.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "The Sociolinguistic of Ashanti Personal Names" (PDF). njas.helsinki.fi (PDF).
  6. ^ a b c d "The Ashanti and their names". asanteman.freeservers.com. Archived from the original on 14 March 2014.
Additional references
See also
  1. ^ "Sacramento Kings | The Official Site of the Sacramento Kings". Sacramento Kings. Retrieved 2019-06-15.

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