Akan names

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The Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born.

This tradition is shared throughout West Africa due to Akan Influence, from Benin/Dahomey (Fon) and Togo (Ewe), to the Ga, to other West Africans and throughout the African diaspora. For example, in Jamaica the following day names have been recorded: Monday, Cudjoe; Tuesday, Cubbenah; Wednesday, Quaco; Thursday, Quao; Friday, Cuffee; Saturday, Quamin; Sunday, Quashee. English translations of these names were used in the United States during the nineteenth century; Robinson Crusoe's Friday may be conceptually related.

Most Ghanaians have at least one name from this system. Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was so named for being born on a Saturday (Kwame) and being the ninth born (Nkrumah). Also, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Atta Annan, was so named for being born on a Friday (Kofi) as one of a pair of twins (Atta).

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- and e-, respectively. Akan d̩wo is pronounced something like English Joe, but there do appear to be two sets of names for those born on Tuesday.

Day names[edit]

Day born ___ Variants Root Assoc.[1]
Male name Female name Ndyuka
Monday
(Ɛdwóada)
Kwadwó Adwoa Kodjó, Kojo, Jojo;
Adjua, Ajwoba, Adjoa
Kodyo, Adyuba Dwo Peace
Tuesday
(Ɛbénada)
Kwabená Abenaa, Abénaa Komlá, Komlã, Komlan, Kobby, Ebo, Kobi Kobina;
Ablá, Ablã, Abena, Araba, Abrema
Abeni Bene Ocean
Wednesday
(Wukúada)
Kwakú Akua, Akúá, Akuba Koku, Kokou, Kweku, kaku, Kuuku;
Akú, Ekua
Kwaku, Akuba Wukuo Spider
Thursday
(Yáwóada)
Yaw Yaa Yao, Yaba, Yawo, Ekow, Kow, Kwaw;
Ayawa, Baaba, Yaaba, Aba
Yaw, Yaba Ya Earth
Friday
(Efíada)
Kofí Afua Koffi, Fiifi, Yoofi;
Afí, Afua, Efia, Efua
Kofi, Afiba Afi Fertility
Saturday
(Méméneda)
Kwámè, Kwǎmè, Ám̀ma, Ámmá Ato, Kwami, Kuwame, Kwamena, Kwamina, Komi;
Ame, Ama, Amba, Ameyo
Kwami, Amba Mene God
Sunday
(Kwasíada)
Kwasí Akosua Kwesi, Siisi, Akwasi, Kosi;
Akosi, Akosiwa, Así, Esi, Kwasiba.
Kwasi, Kwasiba Asi Universe

Twin names[edit]

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.

Twin Male name Female name Variants
Twin Atá Ataá Atta
First born ("younger"[2] twin) Atá Pánin Ataá Pánin Panyin
Second born ("elder" twin) Atá Kúmaa Ataá Kúmaa Akwetee (m), Atsú, Kaakra, Kakraba, Kakira
Born after twins Táwia
Born after Tawia Gaddo Nyankómàgó

Birth-order names[edit]

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

Order Male name Female name Variants
First born Píèsíe Berko (m), Arko (m), Dede (f), Dedei (f), Abaka, Kande (f)?
Second born Mǎnu Máanu
Third born Meńsã́ Mánsã Mensah, Mansah
Fourth born Anan, Anané Annan
Fifth born Núm, Anúm
Sixth born Nsĩã́ Essien
Seventh born Asón Nsṍwaa Esson, Ansong
Eighth born Bótwe Awotwe, Awotwie
Ninth born Ákron, Nkróma Nkróma Akun, Ackon, Nkrumah
Tenth born Badú Badúwaa Bedu
Eleventh born Dúkũ
Twelfth born Dúnu
Last born Kaakyire

Special delivery[edit]

Children are also given names when delivered under special circumstances.

Circumstance Male/Female name Translation
on the field Afúom "on the farm"
on the road Ɔkwán "the road"
in war Bekṍe, Bedíàkṍ "war time"
happy circumstances Afiríyie "good year"
one who loves Adofo "the special one from God"
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"

Surnames[edit]

Akan names include an Akan surname (family name) along with an Akan given name.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bartle, Philip F.W. (January 1978). "Forty Days; The AkanCalendar". Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (Edinburgh University Press) 48 (1): 80–84. doi:10.2307/1158712. JSTOR 1158712. 
  2. ^ For the Akan, the first-born twin is considered the younger, as the elder stays behind to help the younger out.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Akans and their names". asanteman.freeservers.com. 

Additional references[edit]