Akan religion

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Adinkra symbol representing the omnipotence and omnipresence of Nyame

The Akan religion is called Akom from the twi word okom to mean hunger. The Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast consist of Ashanti people, Fante people and other ethnicities. Ashanti is the largest group and most influential among the Akans who have in common "social institutions and religious beliefs and rituals."[1]

The Akan believe in a Supreme Creator who takes on various names depending upon the region of worship. The deity is commonly referred to as Brekyirihunuade ("Almighty"). It is occasionally said that the Supreme god Nyame is a part of a triune deity or triad, which consists of Nyame, Nyankopon and Odmankoma.[2]

The Supreme Creator in the pantheon of the Ashanti is Nyame[3] (also Nyankopon), the omniscient, omnipotent sky father. Together with his wife Asase Yaa, he brought forth two children: Bia and Tano.[4]

The Creator of the universe of the Ashanti is most often referred to as Odomankoma ("infinite inventor").[5] Other examples in the creation story include Oboadee ("creator") and Anansi Kokuroku ("the great designer" or "the great spider").[6]

The Ashanti believe abosom, or lower deities, more akin to spirits, assist humans on earth.

Anansi the Spider is a folk hero who is prominent in Ashanti folktales where he is depicted as a trickster. Abosom receive their power from the supreme creator and are most often connected to the world as it appears in its natural state. Priests serve individual abosom and act as mediators between the abosom and mankind. Many of those who believe in these traditions participate in daily prayer, which includes the pouring of libations as an offering to both the ancestors who are buried under the land and to the spirits who are everywhere.

Finally there are the Nsamanfo ("ancestors").

Akan Religion in the Americas(Jamaica)[edit]

According to Long, Akan (then referred to as "Coromantee") culture obliterated any other African customs and incoming non-Akan Africans had to submit to the culture of the majority Akan population in Jamaica, much like a foreigner learning migrating to a foreign country. Other than Ananse stories, Akan religion made a huge impact. The Akan pantheon of gods referred to as Abosom in the Twi language were documented. Enslaved Akan would praise Nyankopong(erroneously written by the British as Accompong and is in no relation to the Maroon leader Accompong [Twi: Akyeampong]); libations would be poured to Asase Yaa (erroneously written as 'Assarci') and Epo the sea god. Bonsam was referred to as the god of evil.[7] Kumfu(from the word Akom the name of the Akan spiritual system) was documented as Myal and originally only found in books, while the term Kumfu is still used by Jamaican Maroons. The priest of Kumfu was called a Kumfu-man.[8]

Myal and Revival[edit]

Kumfu evolved into Revival, a syncretic Christian sect. Kumfu followers gravitated to the American Revival of 1800 Seventh Day Adventist movement because it observed Saturday as god's day of rest. This was a shared aboriginal belief of the Akan people as this too was the day that the Akan god, Nyame rested after creating the earth. Jamaicans that were aware of their Ashanti past while wanting to keep hidden, mixed their Kumfu spirituality with the American Adventists to create Jamaican Revival in 1860. Revival has two sects: 60 order(or Zion Revival, the order of the heavens) and 61 order(or Pocomania, the order of the earth). 60 order worships God and spirits of air or the heavens on a Saturday and considers itself to be the more 'clean' sect. 61 order more deals with spirits of the earth. This division of Kumfu clearly shows the dichotomy of Nyame and Asase Yaa's relationship, Nyame representing air and has his 60 order'; Asase Yaa having her 61 order of the earth. Also the Ashanti funerary/war colours: red and black have the same meaning in Revival of vengeance.[9] Other Ashanti elements include the use of swords and rings as means to guard the spirit from spiritual attack. The Asantehene like the Mother Woman of Revival, has special two swords used to protect himself from witchcraft called an Akrafena or soul sword and a Bosomfena or spirit sword [10][11]

References[edit]

  • Lynch, Patricia Ann (2010), African Mythology, A to Z, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 9781438131337