Uganda: Toro Pet Names


Another Toro custom is the granting of “pet names” (Empaako in the Toro language) to everyone. Granted at birth, these names can change to reflect each person’s accomplishments or personality.

There are 12 Toro pet names and these are used among Toros as soon as they have moved beyond the initial formality. They can be used as terms of endearment or honorifics. So you would not greet Andre by his name but by his pet name, say “Akiki”.

Interestingly, though everyone here has a pet name, no one I spoke to knows the meaning of all 12 names. After a week soeaking to several people, I was only able to get the meaning of 11 of the 12 names.


The 12 Toro pet names:

Akiki: (adventurer, explorer)

Amoti: (queen)

Atoki: (groom)

Araali: (someone respected, popular)

Achaali: (unknown !) – couldn’t find that meaning but still researching…

Aboli: (pussycat)

Atenyi: (a mythical river snake, with magical powers)

Abaala: (large, big sized)

Apwoli: (puppy dog)

Adyeri: (thunder)

Abwoki: (piglet)

Okaali: (only reserved for the King)


  • The Toro are apparently the only tribe in Africa to use pet names with the Bunyoro.