Akan people

The Akan (/əˈkæn/) are a meta-ethnicity predominantly speaking Central Tano languages and residing in the southern regions of the former Gold Coast region in what is today the nation of Ghana. Akans who historically migrated from Ghana also make up a plurality of the populace in the Ivory Coast. The Akan language (also known as Twi/Fante) is a group of dialects within the Central Tano branch of the Potou–Tano subfamily of the Niger–Congo family.[2]

Subgroups of the Akan proper include:

  • Asante, Akuapem, Akwamu, and Akyem (together known as Twi), Agona, Kwahu, Wassa, Fante (Fanti or Mfantse: Anomabo, Abura, Gomua) and Bono.
  • Subgroups of the Bia-speaking groups include: the Anyin, Baoulé, Chakosi (Anufo), Sefwi (Sehwi), Nzema, Ahanta and Jwira-Pepesa. The Akan subgroups have cultural attributes in common, notably the tracing of matrilineal descent, inheritance of property, and succession to high political office.

Akan culture can also be found in the New World. A number of Akans were taken as captives to the Americas. Roughly ten-percent of all slave ships embarked from the Gold Coast. The primary source of wealth within Akan economy was gold. However as wars culminated in the region the capture and sale of Akan people peaked during the Fante and Ashanti conflicts (as both sides sold a large number of their captives) as prisoners of war. Akan conflicts led to a high number of military captives being sold into slavery known as "Coromantee". These Coromantee soldiers and other Akan captives were notorious for a large number of slave revolts and plantation resistance tactics. These captives were feared throughout the Americas so much so that we can see their legacy within groups such as the Maroons of the Caribbean and South America.

Akan people
Total population
c. 20 million (est.)[N 1][1]
Akan (Central Tano languages)

Origin and ethnogenesis

Akan people are believed to have migrated to their current location from the Sahara desert and Sahel regions of Africa into the forest region around the 11th century, and many Akans tell their history as it started in the eastern region of Africa as this is where the ethnogenesis of the Akan as we know them today happened.[3][4]

Oral traditions of the ruling Abrade (Aduana) Clan relate that they originated from ancient Ghana. They migrated from the north, they went through Egypt and settled in Nubia (Sudan). Around 500 AD (5th century), due to the pressure exerted on Nubia by the Axumite kingdom of Ethiopia, Nubia was shattered, and the Akan people moved west and established small trading kingdoms. These kingdoms grew, and around 750 AD the Ghana Empire was formed. The Empire lasted from 750 AD to 1200 AD and collapsed as a result of the introduction of Islam in the Western Sudan, and the zeal of the Muslims to impose their religion, their ancestors eventually left for Kong (i.e. present day Ivory Coast). From Kong they moved to Wam and then to Dormaa (both located in present-day Brong-Ahafo region). The movement from Kong was necessitated by the desire of the people to find suitable savannah conditions since they were not used to forest life. Around the 14th century, they moved from Dormaa South Eastwards to Twifo-Hemang, North West Cape Coast. This move was commercially motivated.[4]

The kingdom of Bonoman (or Brong-Ahafo) was established as early as the 12th century.[5] Between the 12th and 13th centuries a gold boom in the area brought wealth to numerous Akans.[6]

During different phases of the Kingdom of Bonoman, groups of Akans migrated out of the area to create numerous states based predominantly on gold mining and trading of cash crops.[7][8] This brought wealth to numerous Akan states like Akwamu Empire (1550–1650),[9] and ultimately led to the rise of the most well known Akan empire, the Empire of Ashanti (1700–1900),[10] the most dominant of the Akan states.


From the 15th century to the 19th century (and possibly even earlier) the Akan people dominated gold mining and trading in the region; from the 17th century on, they were among the most powerful groups in Africa.[11][12]

The Akan goldfields, according to Peter Bakewell, were the "highly auriferous area in the forest country between the Komoe and Volta rivers.[13] The Akan goldfield was one of three principal goldfields in the region, along with the Bambuk goldfield, and the Bure goldfield.[14]

Akan Gold Weight MHNT bovid head
Cast brass weights used to measure precise amounts of gold dust. Weights in this system were developed in the seventeenth century. These weights are from the nineteenth century.

This wealth in gold attracted European traders. Initially, the Europeans were Portuguese, soon joined by the Dutch and the British in their quest for Akan gold. Akan states waged wars on neighboring states in their geographic area to capture people and sell them as slaves to Europeans (Portuguese) who subsequently sold the enslaved people along with guns to Akan states in exchange for Akan gold.[15] Akan gold was also used to purchase slaves from further up north via the Trans-Saharan route. The Akan purchased slaves in order to help clear the dense forests within Ashanti.[15] About a third of the population of many Akan states were indentured servants (i.e. Non-Akan peoples). The Akans went from buyers of slaves to selling slaves as the dynamics in the Gold Coast and the New World changed. Thus, the Akan people played a role in supplying Europeans with indentured servants, who were later enslaved for the trans-Atlantic slave trade.[16] In 2006 Ghana apologized to the descendants of slaves for the role some of its people may have played in the slave trade.[17]

Akan people, especially the Ashanti people, fought against European colonialists and defeated them on several occasions to maintain autonomy. This occurred during the Anglo-Ashanti wars: the war of the Golden Stool, and other similar battles.[11][12][18]

By the early 1900s all of Ghana was a colony or protectorate of the British while the lands in the Ivory Coast were under the French. On 6 March 1957, following the decolonization from the British under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah, the Gold Coast was joined to British Togoland, and the Northern region, Upper East region and Upper West region of the Gold Coast to form Ghana.[19] Ivory Coast gained independence on 7 August 1960.

Akan polity

The Akans consider themselves one nation. Akan means first, foremost, and indicates the enlightened and Civilized. While traditionally matrilineal; they are also united philosophically through 12 patrilineal spirit groups called the Ntoro or egya-bosom. Within this nation are branches based on many dialects, widest (and possibly the oldest) one used is Twi. Each branch subsequently holds a collection of states and stemming from city-states. The state or Aman is typically ruled by several kings known as Ahenfo (Ahemfo). The state is the basic unit of Akan polity. Several states and city-states can band together to form a Confederacy or an empire regardless of clan or abusua they belong to, while those outside of the Akan tribe or the abusua were usually conquered or annexed via war or mutual agreement. For example, the Guan state of Larteh and the Akyem state of Akropong joined together to form the Akwapim Kingdom to avoid the Akwamu, who the Guan deemed as oppressive. Under the State there are Divisions and under these Divisions are towns and villages.[20]

Akan kings are ranked according to their jurisdiction. The head of an inter-clan Confederacy is usually considered a King, as in the Kings of Ashanti, Akyem and the Akwapim. Under these are the heads of the constituent states who equates an Emperor that only heads an Empire (for e.g. Asante Empire and the Denkyira). In Asante's case, as an Empire the Asantehene reigned over non-Oyoko clan city states and ruled over the kings of those states as an Imperial head or Emperor (a hardly used but rightful equivalent term as Emperor literally mean king of kings.) But right Next, there are divisional Chiefs, they are primarily arranged according to the five divisions of an Akan army. The Akan army or Asafo formation resembles a cross or an aeroplane. The battle formation has the Frontline, the West Flank, an East Flank, the main body and the Vanguard. There are therefore five divisional chiefs in each Paramountcy. These are followed in rank by the Kings of the city and then the Kings of the town and then king of the suburbs.[20]

The Akan tribe mostly have seven Abusua (matrilineal clans) in each state. They do not have the same names in each state but each has an equivalent clan (for e.g. in Fante areas along the coast, the Asante clan of Oyoko is referred to as Dehyena or Yokofo). The clans are assigned States which they rule by virtue of their status as founders of that jurisdiction. The Ashanti Kingdom is ruled by the Oyoko Clan. However the Bretuo or Twidanfo (in Fante) as well as other clans rule States, Divisions, Towns and Villages within the Kingdom. The Fante-speaking tribes usually have the Asona Clan ruling most of their States (like Mankessim). Certain sub-clans or lineages have exclusive rights to some stools within Akanland such as the lineage of Afia Kobi in the Oyoko Clan who alone sit on the Golden Stool of Asante.[20]

The Akans are traditionally a Matrilineal people of the African continent. Matrilineal inheritance makes it easier to trace the line of succession. Within each lineage or House are the branches. The chief of a family is called an Abusuapanin (or family-elder). Ranking above a family chief (a family's Abusuapanin) is the clan's chief (or clan's Abusuapanin). These branches are called Jaase or literally Kitchens. Each Kitchen takes its turn to present a candidate for the stool to the kingmakers of the lineage. Once accepted their candidate rules till death. This means until all the Jaase have presented their candidates they have to wait their turn.[20]

Akan Kings of whatever rank have other noblemen who serve them as Sub-Chiefs. These sub-chiefs do not have hereditary titles and therefore do not have black stools. In addition each King has a female co-ruler known as the Queenmother. The Queen-mother is more like a figurehead representing the King's or Emperor's eldest sister and hence the mother of the next King or Emperor, she could rule as a King if she wishes (e.g. queen-mothers mainly from the House of Asona clan: Nana Abena Boaa who ruled Offinso 1610–1640, Nana Afia Dokuaa who ruled Akyem Abuakwa 1817–1835, and Nana Yaa Asantewaa who ruled Edweso 1896–1900). They present the candidate for consideration as King. An assistant king does not have a Queenmother as his title is not hereditary.[20]

A Prince or Daakyehene (lit Future-king) is any of the members of the lineage eligible to sit on a stool. However, not all the noblemen or noblewomen are Princes as some may be ineligible. A prince is not necessarily the son of a King but rather the former King's nephew on the mother's side. As such nobles strive to achieve the position of prince in their families or for their children.[20]

A sub-chief does not however need to be a nobleman. He only has to be suitable for the position he is to occupy. Some sub-chieftaincy positions can be abolished at will. They include the heads of the ruling house or Mankrado, the Linquist, the Chief Kingmaker or Jaasehene, the Supi or General of the Army, the Captains of the Army or Asafohene among others.[20]

The way Akans ruled their nation fascinated the tribes of other West African nations and as the Akans conquered or formed alliances with these nations parts of it was transmitted to them. The British particularly felt the Akan system was highly efficient and tried to establish it throughout their dominions in West Africa using the Indirect Rule System. The Ewes and the Ga-Adangmes with their close affinity to the Akans have modified certain aspects of it to fit their societies.[20]

In Ghana and other modern states where the Akan tribe is located the Kings, Assistant Kings, Princes and Noblemen of the Akans serve mostly a symbolic role. Modern politics has side-lined them in national politics although it is common to find that an elected or appointed official to be of Akan royalty. And, especially in the villages and poor areas, traditional Kings are still very important for organizing development, social services and keeping peace. Some Kings have decided to push ahead with the leadership of their Kingdoms and States in a non-political fashion. The Asantehene and Okyehene have emphasized Education and Environmental Sustainability respectively. Others push the national government and its agents to fulfill promises to their people.[20]

In modern Ghana a quasi-legislative/judicial body known as the House of "Chiefs"(a colonial term to belittle African Kings because of the racist belief to not equate an African king with a European king in rank) has been established to oversee "chieftaincy" and the Government of Ghana as the British Government once did certifies the Chiefs and gazettes them. Several Akan Kings sit at the various levels of the National House of "Chiefs". Each Paramountcy has a Traditional Council, then there is the Regional House of "Chiefs" and lastly the National House of "Chiefs". Akan Kings who once warred with each other and Kings of other nations within Ghana now sit with them to build peace and advocate development for their nations.[20]

Akan subgroups and meta-ethnic identity

The Akan people comprise the following subgroups: Ashanti (the largest Akan ethnic group), Abinghi, Abbe, Abidji, Aboure, Adjukru, Ahafo, Ahanta, Akuapem, Akwamu, Akye, Akyem, Alladian, Anyi, Aowin, Assin, Attie, Avatime, Avikam, Baoulé, Abron, Chokosi, Denkyira, Ehotile, Evalue, Fante (the second largest Akan ethnic group), Kwahu, M'Bato, Nzema, Sefwi, Tchaman, Twifu and Wassa.[1][21]

The identity of an Akan nation or meta-ethnicity is expressed by the term Akanman. The Akan word ɔman (plural Aman) which forms the second element in this expression has a meaning much of "community, town; nation, state". ɔman/Aman has been translated as "Akanland" ".[22]

Akan language

Akan refers to the language of the Akan ethno-linguistic group and the Akan language in which was and is the most widely spoken and used indigenous language on the Ashantiland Peninsula.[23][24] Akan is officially recognized for literacy on the Ashantiland Peninsula, at the primary and elementary educational stage (Primary 1–3) K–12 (education) level, and studied at university as a bachelor's degree or master's degree program.[23][24] The Akan language spoken as the predominant language in the Western, Central, Ashanti, Eastern, Brong Ahafo regions of the Ashantiland Peninsula.[23][24] A language with some Akan influence called Ndyuka is also spoken in South America (Suriname and French Guiana), with the Akan language coming to these South American and Caribbean places through the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Akan names and folktales are still used in these South American and Caribbean countries(another example can be seen in the Maroons of Jamaica and their influence with Akan culture and loanwords).[23][24] With the present state of technology, one can listen to live radio broadcasts in Akan from numerous radio stations and receive mass media and public broadcasts in Akan from numerous multimedia and media broadcasting.[23][24] Akan is studied in major universities in North America and United States, including Ohio University, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Harvard University, Boston University, Indiana University, University of Michigan, and the University of Florida.[23][24] The Akan language has been a regular language of study in the annual Summer Cooperative African Languages Institute (SCALI) program and the Akan language is regulated and administered by the Akan Orthography Committee (AOC).[23][24]

Some of Akan's characteristic features include tone, vowel harmony and nasalization.[23][24]


Akan face
17th Century Akan Terracotta – Metropolitan Museum of Art

Akan culture is one of the traditional matrilineal cultures of Africa.[25] Akan art is wide-ranging and renowned, especially for the tradition of crafting bronze goldweights, using the lost-wax casting method. The Akan culture reached South America, Caribbean, and North America.[26]

Some of their most important mythological stories are called anansesem, literally meaning "the spider story", but in a figurative sense also meaning "traveler's tales". These "spider stories" are sometimes also referred to as nyankomsem: "words of a sky god". The stories generally, but not always, revolve around Kwaku Ananse, a trickster spirit, often depicted as a spider, human, or a combination thereof.[27]

Elements of Akan culture also include, but are not limited to:[28][29][30][31][32] Akan art, kente cloth, Akan Calendar, Akan Chieftaincy, Akan goldweights and Akan religion.

Concepts of Akan philosophy and inheritance

These are the basic concepts of Akan philosophy and inheritance:

  • Abusua (mogya) – What an Akan inherits from his mother
  • Ntoro – What an Akan gets from his father, but one does not belong to a Ntoro; instead one belongs to one's Abusua
  • Sunsum – What an Akan develops from interaction with the world
  • Kra – What an Akan gets from Onyame/Nyame (God)[33]


Many but not all of the Akan still[34] practice their traditional matrilineal customs, living in their traditional extended family households. The traditional Akan economic and political organization is based on matrilineal lineages, which are the basis of inheritance and succession. A lineage is defined as all those related by matrilineal descent from a particular ancestress. Several lineages are grouped into a political unit headed by a council of elders, each of whom is the elected head of a lineage – which itself may include multiple extended-family households.

Public offices are thus vested in the lineage, as are land tenure and other lineage property. In other words, lineage property is inherited only by matrilineal kin.[34][35] Each lineage controls the lineage land farmed by its members, functions together in the veneration of its ancestors, supervises marriages of its members, and settles internal disputes among its members.[36]

The political units above are likewise grouped (into traditionally seven) but as of today eight larger groups called abusua: Aduana, Agona, Asakyiri, Asenie, Asona, Bretuo, Ekuona and Oyoko. The members of each such abusua are united by their belief that they are all descended from the same ancient ancestress – so marriage between members of the same group (or abusua) is forbidden, a taboo on marriage. One inherits, or is a lifelong member of, the lineage, the political unit and the abusua of one's mother, regardless of one's gender or marriage. Members and their spouses thus belong to different abusuas, with mother and children living and working in one household, but their husband/father living and working in a different household.[34][35]

According to one source[37] of information about the Akan, "A man is strongly related to his mother's brother (wɔfa) but only weakly related to his father's brother. This is perhaps viewed in the context of a polygamous society in which the mother/child bond is likely to be much stronger than the father/child bond. As a result, in inheritance, a man's nephew (his sister's son) (wɔfase) will have priority over his own son. Uncle-nephew relationships therefore assume a dominant position."[37]

"The principles governing inheritance, generation and age – that is to say, men come before women and seniors before juniors."... When a woman's brothers are available, a consideration of generational seniority stipulates that the line of brothers be exhausted before the right to inherit lineage property passes down to the next senior genealogical generation of sisters' sons. Finally, "it is when all possible male heirs have been exhausted that the females" may inherit.[37]

Certain other aspects of the Akan culture are determined patrilineally rather than matrilineally. There are ancestrally 12 patrilineal Ntoro (spirit) groups, and everyone belongs to his or her father's Ntoro group, but not to his family lineage and abusua. Each Ntoro group has its own surnames,[38] taboos, ritual purifications and forms of etiquette.[35] A person thus inherits one's Ntoro from one's father, but does not belong to his family.

A recent (2001) book[34] provides an update on the Akan, stating that some families are changing from the above abusua structure to the nuclear family.[39] Housing, childcare, education, daily work, and elder care etc. are then handled by that individual family, rather than by the abusua or clan, especially in the city.[40] The above taboo on marriage within one's abusua is sometimes ignored, but "clan membership" is still important,[39] with many people still living in the abusua framework presented above.[34]

Akan influence

Elements of Akan culture can generally be seen in many geographic areas. Specific elements of Akan culture are especially seen in neighboring African peoples and some Central African populations. Akan culture has also been historically important in the New World, where Akan names are or were common,[41] for example among the Coromantins of Jamaica, South and North America, Barbados, and the descendants of the Akwamu in St. John. Kofi, the leader of the 1763 slave revolt and violent revolt against the Dutch people in Guyana was an Akan.

Notable individuals of Akan origin


Brooklyn Museum 1993.182.3 Staff Finial

Akan metalwork from the Brooklyn Museum, New York City, United States

Brooklyn Museum 1998.36 Mask Bo Nun Amuin

Mask (Bo Nun Amuin), from the early 20th century

Brooklyn Museum 22.1771 Elephant Mask GlaoKlolo (3)

Wooden mask representing an elephant. Large round ears with a smaller human mask in center of each ear. Eyes are round and pink. Zig-zag patterns along the length of trunk, upturned tusks. Condition: One mask in proper left ear is partially broken; few small cracks on front of face; one large crack under chin. One tusk previously broken.

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Houten masker van een woudgod TMnr 3305-16
Asante map

Empire of Ashanti and the Gold Coast map.


Diachronic map showing "Akan-held territory Ashantiland" Sovereign nation state and territorial entity with pre-colonial states and cultures of Africa (spanning roughly 500 BCE to 1500 CE). This map is "an artistic interpretation" using multiple and disparate sources.

The Mali Empire

The Mali Empire in 1337, including the location of the Bambuk, Bure, Lobi and Akan Goldfields

See also


  1. ^ CIA World Factbook population total suggests roughly 20 million.


  1. ^ a b ""Cote d'Ivoire", CIA – The World Factbook". Cia.gov. "Akan 42.1%" of a population of 22.0 million. ""Ghana", CIA – The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 24 August 2012. "Akan 45.3%" of a population of 24.6 million.
  2. ^ Languages of the Akan area: papers in Western Kwa linguistics and on the linguistic geography of the area of ancient. Isaac K. Chinebuah, H. Max J. Trutenau, Linguistic Circle of Accra, Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1976, pp. 168.
  3. ^ Akwamu. akuapem.com.
  4. ^ a b Akwamu. akuapem.com.
  5. ^ The Techiman-Bono of Ghana:an ethnography of an Akan society Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co., 1975
  6. ^ Title: Africa a Voyage of Discovery with Basil Davidson, Language: English Type: Documentary Year: 1984 Length: 114 min.
  7. ^ Africa from the 12th to the 16th century Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Djibril Tamsir Niane, James Currey, 1997, 294 pp.
  8. ^ Indigenous medicine and knowledge in African society. Psychology Press, 2007 – Health & Fitness.
  9. ^ "Akwamu – Encyclopedia Article and More from". Merriam-Webster. 13 August 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  10. ^ Africa: a Voyage of Discovery with Basil Davidson, Documentary, 1984, 114 minutes.
  11. ^ a b "Africa Gallery". Penn Museum. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  12. ^ a b The African heritage, Volume 3 Zimbabwe Pub. House, 1999 – History – 180 pages
  13. ^ Wilks, Ivor (1997). "Wangara, Akan, and Portuguese in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries". In Bakewell, Peter (ed.). Mines of Silver and Gold in the Americas. Aldershot: Variorum, Ashgate Publishing Limited. p. 4. ISBN 0860785130.
  14. ^ Levtzion, Nehemia (1973). Ancient Ghana and Mali. New York: Methuen & Co Ltd. p. 155. ISBN 0841904316.
  15. ^ a b "Asante (Ashanti) History Much of the modern nation of Ghana". modernghana.com. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  16. ^ Henry Louis Gates Jr. "Ending the Slavery Blame-Game". Archived from the original on 23 April 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Ghana apologizes to slaves' descendants". modernghana.com. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  18. ^ Non-western theories of development: regional norms versus global trends, Harcourt Brace College Pub., 1999, 179 pp.
  19. ^ "United Nations member States – General Information". Un.org. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Amamere". asanteman.org. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  21. ^ "Online Twi Dictionary – The Akan People". twi.bb. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  22. ^ Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana. The Society. 2003. p. 28.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h Guerini, Federica (2006). Language The Alternation Strategies in Multilingual Settings. Peter Lang. p. 100. ISBN 0-82048-369-9.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h "Akan (Twi) – Akan language". amesall.rutgers.edu.
  25. ^ Ghana: The Bradt Travel Guide, Philip Briggs, Katherine Rushton Bradt Travel Guides, 2007, 416 pp.
  26. ^ "Man Ray, African art, and the modernist lens", Wendy Grossman, Martha Ann Bari, Letty Bonnell, International Arts & Artists, 2009 – Photography, 183 pp.
  27. ^ A Treasury of African Folklore: the oral literature, traditions, myths, legends, epics, tales, recollections, wisdom, sayings, and humor of Africa, Crown Publishers, 1975, 617 pp.
  28. ^ Facets of Ghanaian culture African Studies, Jerry Bedu-Addo, 1989. 68 pp.
  29. ^ Akan Weights and the Gold Trade, Longman, 1980. 393 pp.
  30. ^ Sankofa: African thought and education, P. Lang, 1995, 236 pp.
  31. ^ Simultaneity in signed languages: form and function, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2007, 355 pp.
  32. ^ The Rough Guide to West Africa, Penguin, 2008, 1360 pp.
  33. ^ L'homme, Volume 7 École pratique des hautes études (France). Section des sciences économiques et sociales École pratique des hautes études, Section des sciences économiques et sociales, 1967
  34. ^ a b c d e de Witte, Marleen (2001). Long Live the Dead!: changing funeral celebrations in Asante, Ghana. Published by Het Spinhuis. ISBN 90-5260-003-1.
  35. ^ a b c Busia, Kofi Abrefa (1970). Encyclopædia Britannica, 1970. William Benton, publisher, The University of Chicago. ISBN 0-85229-135-3, Vol. 1, p. 477. (This Akan article was written by Kofi Abrefa Busia, formerly professor of Sociology and Culture of Africa at the University of Leiden, Netherlands.)
  36. ^ Owusu-Ansah, David (Nov1994). http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field%28DOCID+gh0048%29, "Ghana: The Akan Group". This source, "Ghana", is one of the Country Studies available from the US Library of Congress. Archived by WebCite® at https://www.webcitation.org/61M7J7JwT on 31Aug11.
  37. ^ a b c ashanti.com.au (before 2010). http://ashanti.com.au/pb/wp_8078438f.html, "Ashanti Home Page". Archived at WebCite https://www.webcitation.org/5xVwnX0ie?url=http://ashanti.com.au/pb/wp_8078438f.html on 28Mar11.
  38. ^ de Witte (2001), p. 55 shows such surnames in a family tree, which provides a useful example of names.
  39. ^ a b de Witte (2001), p. 53.
  40. ^ de Witte (2001), p. 73.
  41. ^ "Kwasi Konadu, "The Akan Diaspora in the Americas" (Oxford UP, 2010)". Newbooksinafroamstudies.com. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  42. ^ J. A. Mangan, The Cultural bond: sport, empire, society

Further reading

  • Antubam, Kofi, Ghana's Heritage of Culture, Leipzig, 1963.
  • Kyerematen, A. A. Y., Panoply of Ghana, London, 1964.
  • Meyerowitz, Eva L. R., Akan Traditions of Origin, London, c. 1950.
  • Meyerowitz, Eva L. R., At the Court of an African King, London 1962
  • Obeng, Ernest E., Ancient Ashanti Chieftaincy, Tema (Ghana), 1986.
  • Bartle, Philip F. W. (January 1978), "Forty Days; The AkanCalendar". Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (Edinburgh University Press), 48 (1): 80–84.
  • For the Akan, the first-born twin is considered the younger, as the elder stays behind to help the younger out.
  • "Kente Cloth." African Journey. webmaster@projectexploration.org. 25 September 2007.
  • Effah-Gyamfi, Kwaku (1979), Traditional History of the Bono State, Legon: Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana.
  • Effah-Gyamfi, Kwaku (1985), Bono Manso: an archaeological investigation into early Akan urbanism (African occasional papers, no. 2) Calgary: Dept. of Archaeology, University of Calgary Press. ISBN 0-919813-27-5
  • Meyerowitz, E. L. R. (1949), "Bono-Mansu, the earliest centre of civilisation in the Gold Coast", Proceedings of the III International West African Conference, 118–20.
  • Shumway, Rebecca. 2011. "The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade." Rochester: University of Rochester Press. ISBN 9781580463911

External links

Abidji people

The Abidji are an Akan people who live in the Ivory Coast.

Abron tribe

The Abron or Bono are an Akan people of West Africa. They speak the Abron language.

In the late sixteenth century, the Abron founded the Gyaaman kingdom as extension of Bono state in what is now Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.


The Ahafo are an Akan people who live in Ghana.

Akan art

Akan art is an art form that originated among the Akan people of West Africa. Akan art is known for vibrant artistic traditions, including textiles, sculpture, Akan goldweights, as well as gold and silver jewelry. The Akan people are known for their strong connection between visual and verbal expressions and a distinctive blending of art and philosophy. Akan culture values gold above all other metals, so the artwork and jewelry made of gold reflects a great deal of value, whether it be made for appearance, artistic expression, or more practical trading purposes.

Akan language

Akan is a Central Tano language that is the principal native language of the Akan people of Ghana, spoken over much of the southern half of Ghana, by about 80% of the population, and among 41% of the population of Ivory Coast.Three dialects have been developed as literary standards with distinct orthographies: Asante, Akuapem (together called Twi), and Fante, which, despite being mutually intelligible, were inaccessible in written form to speakers of the other standards. In 1978 the Akan Orthography Committee (AOC) established a common orthography for all of Akan, which is used as the medium of instruction in primary school by speakers of several other Central Tano languages such as Anyi, Sehwi, Ahanta, and the Guang languages. The Akan Orthography Committee has compiled a unified orthography of 20,000 words. Notable as well are the adinkra symbols, which are old ideograms.

The language came to the Caribbean and South America, notably in Suriname spoken by the Ndyuka and in Jamaica by the Jamaican Maroons known as Coromantee, with enslaved people from the region. The descendants of escaped slaves in the interior of Suriname and the Maroons in Jamaica still use a form of this language, including Akan names: children are named after the day of the week on which they are born, e.g. Akwasi/Kwasi (for a boy) or Akosua (girl) born on a Sunday. In Jamaica and Suriname the Anansi spider stories are well known.

Akan religion

Akan religion comprises the traditional beliefs and religious practices of the Akan people of Ghana and eastern Ivory Coast. Akan religion is referred to as Akom (from the Twi word okom, meaning "prophecy"). Although most Akan people have identified as Christians since the early 20th century, Akan religion remains practiced by some, and is often syncretized with Christianity. The Akan have many subgroups (including the Ashanti, the Akuapem, the Wassa, the Abron, the Anyi, and the Baoulé, among others), so the religion varies greatly by region and subgroup.

Similar to other traditional religions of West and Central Africa such as West African Vodun, Yoruba religion, or Odinani, Akan cosmology consists of a senior god who generally does not interact with humans and many gods who assist humans.

Anansi the Spider is a folk hero, who is prominent in Ashanti folktales, where he is depicted as a trickster. In other aspects of Akan spirituality, Anansi is also sometimes considered both a trickster and a deity associated with wisdom, responsible for creating the first inanimate humans, according to the scholar Anthony Ephirim-Donkor.. This is similar to Legba, who is also both a trickster and a deity in West African Vodun.

Akuapem people

The Akuapem are a group of Akan people living in Ghana.


The Akyem are an Akan people. The term Akyem (Akim or Aki) is used to describe a group of three states: Akyem Abuakwa, Akyem Kotoku and Akyem Bosome. These nations are located primarily in the eastern region. The term is also used to describe the general area where the Akyem ethnic group clusters. The Akyem ethnic group make up between 3-9 percent of Ghana's population depending on how one defines the group and are very prominent in all aspects of Ghanaian life. The Akyem are a matrilineal people. The history of this ethnic group is that of brave warriors who managed to create a thriving often influential and relatively independent state within modern-day Ghana . When one talks of Ghanaian history, there is often mention of The Big Six). These were six individuals who played a big role in the independence of Ghana. Of the big six, people of Akyem descent made up the majority.

Akyem Abuakwa

Akyem Abuakwa describes a Akyem an Akan people traditional entity in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

Akyen Abuakwa is one of the three independent states along with Akyem Bosome and Akyem Kotoku that forms the Akyem Mansa. It is in Eastern and Ashanti regions of Ghana.

The Akyem Abuakwa state was clearly in existence under the rule of Ofori Panin. He seems to have ruled for many years stretching until about 1730.By the start of the 19th-century it had been subjects of the Ashanti Empire. In 1811 it rebelled against the Ashanti, in which 100 Ashanti officials in the area were killed.


The Assin (also known as Asin and Asen) are an ethnic group of the Akan people who live in Ghana. The Assin people live predominantly in the Central Region of Ghana. The capital of the Assin district is Assin Foso.

There are two subdivisions of the Assin people. The Assin Apemanim (or Apimenem) live to the east of the Cape Coast-Kumasi Highway, with Manso as their capital city. The Assin Attendansu (or Atandanso) live to the west of the Highway, with Nyankumasi as their capital city.In 1995, their estimated population was 135,000.

Avatime people

The Avatime are an Akan people who live in Volta region of Ghana. History has it that they are Ahanta people who migrated to the Volta region.

Baoulé language

Baoulé, also called Baule or Bawule, is a Central Tano language spoken in Ivory Coast.

The Baoulé are an Akan people living in the central region of Ivory Coast. Baoulé-speaking areas include Bouaké, Yamoussoukro, Bouaflé, Béoumi, Sakassou, Toumodi, Dimbokro, M'Bahiakro, and Tiassalé.

As an example of the language, the phrase "Nyanmien Kpli lafiman" means "God the Greatest never sleeps."

Bono state

Bonoman (Bono State) was a trading state created by the Abron (Brong) people, located in what is now south Ghana. Bonoman was a medieval Akan kingdom in what is now Brong-Ahafo (named after the Abron (Brong) and Ahafo Akans) of the Ashantiland. It is generally accepted as the origin of the subgroups of the Akan people who migrated out of the state at various times to create new Akan states in search of gold. The gold trade, which started to boom in Bonoman as early in the 12th century, was the genesis of Akan power and wealth in the region, beginning in the Middle Ages.

Central Tano languages

The Central Tano or Akan languages are languages of the Niger-Kongo family (or perhaps the theorised Kwa languages) spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast by the Akan people.

Akan language (Akan proper)


North Bia



Chakosi (Anufo)

Sefwi (Sehwi)

South Bia



Jwira-PepesaAll have written forms in the Latin script.


Denkyira was a powerful nation of Akan people that existed on the Ashantiland peninsula from the 1620s, in what is now modern-day Ghana. Like all Akans, they originated from Bono state. Before 1620, Denkyira was called Agona. The ruler of the Denkyira was called Denkyirahene and the capital was Jukwaa. The first Denkyirahene was Mumunumfi.Later, the capital of Denkyira moved to Abankeseso. The Denkyira state capital is now Dunkwa-on-Offin. Denkyira became powerful through gold production on the peninsula Ashantiland and trade with Europe.

In the 1690s, wars took place between Denkyira and the Asen and Twifo-Heman. The goal of these struggles was to keep open the trade routes to the coast of the peninsula Ashantiland.The Denkyira state dominated the trade with Europeans in Western Ashantiland on the peninsula Ashantiland while the Akwamu dominated trade with Europeans in Eastern Ashantiland on the peninsula Ashantiland.

The Denkyira state dominated the neighboring states apart from the Akwamu and Akyem, and Ashanti Empire was a tributary to Denkyira until 1701, when it was defeated by the Ashanti in the Battle of Feyiase, and became a tributary to the Ashanti Empire. This was led by Ntim Gyakari the then Denkyirahene.

In 1868 Denkyira entered the Fante Confederacy to fight for Great Britain against the alliance of the Ashanti people and the Dutch people. When the Fante confederacy proved unable to defeat the Ashanti people's Ashanti Empire, the Fante confederacy became a part of the Gold Coast region on the peninsula Ashantiland in 1874. In 1957 the peninsula Ashantiland (or Ashanti Empire) of the Ashanti people Ashanti absolute monarchy entered a state union with the Dagomba people's Kingdom of Dagbon and Ewe people's British Togoland now Volta creating neo-colonial Ghana.

The present-day ruler of the Denkyira was Odeefuo Boa Amponsem III until his death was announced on December 1, 2016.

Efutu people

The Efutu (also called Awutu or Simpafo) are an Akanized Guang people that are the original inhabitants of present-day Ghana. They founded the coastal area about 1390 C.E. The Efutu are found in Awutu, Adina, Senya-Beraku and Winneba (originally called Simpa) and their main occupation is fishing. Like most Guans, they were somewhat absorbed into the greater Akan culture and adopted Akan names via annexing and military campaigns as the Akan were natural warriors. Similar to the Akuapem people of the Eastern Region of Ghana who are ruled by an Akan Abusua (called the Asona clan) but was originally ruled by their own Guan kings. They also have adopted (with modifications) the Fante version of some Akan institutions and the use of some Fante words in their rituals. Before Akanization, the Simpa Kingdom was formed about 1400 AD.The famous king of the Efutus is Omanhene Nana Kwasi Gyan Ghartey I (1666-1712, the 1st to bear the Akan Omanhene title). He was famous for his fishing activities, had as many as 12 wives, and had more than six children with each wife. He helped to develop the town and its people by building various structures, including the police station, the secondary school, and all the major huge buildings in the town.

The Efutu speak Efutu

Evalue people

The Evalue people are an Akan people who live in southwestern Ghana and across the border in Ivory Coast.


Nyame (or Nyankopon) is the God of the Akan people of Ashanteland of Ghana. His name means "he who knows and sees everything" and "omniscient, omnipotent sky god" in the Akan language.

Tabom people

The Tabon People or Agudas are the Afro-Brazilian community in South of Ghana who are mostly of Yoruba descent. The Tabom People are an Afro-Brazilian community of former slaves returnees. When they arrived in South Ghana and Accra and they could speak only Portuguese, so they greeted each other with “Como está?” (How are you?) to which the reply was “Tá bom”, so the Ewe people, Ga-Adangbe people and Akan people in of South Ghana and Accra started to call them the Tabon People.

Akan states of the Ashantiland Peninsula and the Gold Coast Region
Akan topics
(Ashantiland Peninsula)
Ghana Ethnic groups in Ghana

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