the article deals with names of people among the vatonga, an ethnic group originally found in the bay of inhambane (mozambique) and surrounding areas, and it presents facts on their socio-cultural dimension and dynamic nature, as a consequence of multiple exogenous influence. as it addresses issues on anthroponyms used by the vatonga of inhambane, the article assumes that, despite a guiding pattern, the process of their construction is creative, heterogeneous and dynamic. historical contingencies affecting the social life of the tonga community dictated that various influences have an impact on the practice of name creation. as a consequence, there are clear signs of significant change in the course of time, due mainly to portuguese colonial presence and to the policy of assimilation. as a result portuguese influence is striking, being evident in the majority of the names used by those considering themselves to be vatonga.