The Religion of the Akan people

Carrier of the royal Asante sword
Carrier of the royal Asante sword

The Akan are a people from Ghana and Ivory Coast. Their number is estimated at around 20 million people in both countries. They are divided in several subgroups. There are the Asante (Ashanti), Akwamu, Akyem, Akuapem, Denkyira, Abron, Aowin, Ahanta, Anyi and Baule among others. They are probably originating from Egypt as showed by Cheikh Anta Diop in Nations Nègres et Culture, through the study of the Anyi subgroup – pages 391 & 391.

Amon-Ra
Imana/Amen/Nyamien/Nyame/Nyambe/Nzambe/Nzambi etc… Unique God of Africa, imagined here under his masculine form; Temple of the female Pharaoh Hatchepsut

The Akan people have a unique God that they call Nyamien or Nyame. This name is similar to Nyambe, Nzambe, Zamba, Nyumbi, Nzame, and Zambi that can be found in Cameroon, Gabon, in Both Congos, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. All these names are Amon/Imana’s names, the unique God of Africa. For Nyame, the Akan also use the name Onyankopong – the being which gave birth to the universe – or Odomankoma – the infinite being. All this is to be compared with the attributions of God in Egypt. Amon is Neb r Djer – the master of the universe. Amon is Neb nehehe – the master of eternity.

Nyame is spiritually visible everywhere. Actually, For Kamits (Blacks), God is the original energy which created the universe; this implies that this energy of the creation can be found in all living things, included in plants and animals. For the Bamileke of Cameroon, God is the energy power that stirs all the natural elements. This power is called Si. The baKongo people call this energy Ngolo. In the tradition of the Fang people of the center of Africa, there is a part of the Mvett that says ‘Eyô âng’ayô a ne viô’ [1] it is to say ‘Eyô’ which is God multiplied itself like mushrooms’; this in order to show the multiplication of the primordial Ancestor in everything as energy. This Fang quotation meets the Akan who say that Nyame is one and multiple.

Nyame is androgynous; it is to say male and female at the same time, just like Amon in Egypt, Amma for the Dogon of Mali and Zahanary for the Malagasy. Blacks consider that if the Creator has been able to create, it must have a female and male principle. In the beginning Nyame created Osoro that represents the paradise and Asaase that represents the Earth and fertility. Osoro is male and Asaase is female. In the cosmogony of Iunu in Egypt, Usire/Wasire – Osiris – is the personification of God’s good, the commander of the tribunal of the dead, in charge of sending the defunct in heaven or in hell according to his deeds on earth. Aisata – Isis – represents fertility. She is a woman. Osoro then seems to be Usire and Asaase Aisata. The name of Usire in Somali is Awzaar and Aisata is Aisitu.

The divine couple Aisata/Asaase/Aisitu on the right side and her husband Usire/Osoro/Awzaar in the middle. Their son Horo/Horus is on the left side of the picture.
The divine couple Aisata/Asaase/Aisitu on the right side and her husband Usire/Osoro/Awzaar in the middle. Their son Horo/Horus is on the left side of the picture.

The Akan consider Nyame as the primordial Ancestor, just like the Yoruba consider Olorun – God – as the primordial Ancestor, like the Egyptians and Nubians considered Amon the same way or again as the Shona from Zimbabwe consider Mwari the same way as well.

Akan couple
Akan couple

The Akan spirituality is then based on tributes paid to the Ancestors. For Kamits, when one dies, there is the separation between the physical body and the energy. The energy joins the other energies in a place called Budtenga – country of the Ancestors – by the Mosse from Burkina Faso. The Zulu call their dead Ancestors amaDlozi, the Malagasy call theirs Razana.

By : Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :

  • Article by Kofi Kissi Dompere, economist and philosopher, author of ‘polyrythmicity: the fundaments of the African philosophy’
  • René Louis Parfait Etilé for Africamaat
  • [1] Le Mvett, la mort, l’homme et l’immortalité (Mvett, the man, death and immortality), Tsira Ndong Ndoutoume, page 22.
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