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.[1]. This is similar to Legba, who is also both a trickster and a deity in West African Vodun.[2]

Gye nyame
Adinkra symbol representing the omnipotence and omnipresence of Nyame


Creator God

Followers of Akan religion believe in a supreme god who created the universe. He is distant and does not interact with humans.

The creator god takes on different names depending upon the region of worship, including Nyame, Nyankopon, Brekyirihunuade ("Almighty"), Odomankoma ("infinite inventor"),[3] Ɔbɔadeɛ ("creator") and Anansi Kokuroku ("the great designer" or "the great spider").[4] It is occasionally said that the creator god is a part of a triune deity or triad, which consists of Nyame, Nyankopon and Odomankoma.[5]

The Supreme Creator is an omniscient, omnipotent sky father. His wife is Asase Yaa (also known as Mother Earth), considered second to God.[6] Together they brought forth two children: Bia and Tano.[7]


The abosom, the lower deities or spirits, assist humans on earth. These are akin to orishas in Yoruba religion, the vodun in West African Vodun and its derivatives, and the alusi in Odinani. Abosom receive their power from the creator god 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.


The Nsamanfo are the ancestors. They are sometimes referred to as ghost.

In the Americas


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 Twi were documented. Enslaved Akan would praise Nyankopong (erroneously written by the British as Accompong, not related 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.[8] 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.[9]

The Jamaican Maroon spirit-possession language, a creolized form of Akan, is used in religious ceremonies of some Jamaican Maroons.

Myal and Revival

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.[10] 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 [11][12]


Winti is an Afro-Surinamese religion which is largely derived from both Akom and Vodun with Vodun gods such as Loco, Ayizu and so on. [13]


Haitian Vodou is a syncretic religion that combines Vodun with several other African religions in addition to influences from Catholicism. Here latent influences of Akan beliefs can be seen in the incorporation of Anansi as one of the Lwa worshiped in the Haitian religion. He is often depicted as maintaining the connection between the living and their deceased ancestors.[14]


  1. ^ Ephirim-Donkor, Anthony. "African Personality and Spirituality: The Role of Abosom and Human Essence". Lexington Books, 2015: pp. 80.
  2. ^ Herskovits, Melville J. and Frances S. "Dahomean Narrative: A Cross-Cultural Analysis." Northwestern University Press (1958), p 35.
  3. ^ Sykes & Kendall 2001, p. 146.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Lynch 2010, p. 93.
  6. ^ Opokuwaa, Nana Akua Kyerewaa (1 January 2005). The Quest for Spiritual Transformation: Introduction to Traditional Akan Religion, Rituals and Practices. iUniverse. ISBN 9780595350711.
  7. ^ Lynch 2010, p. 94.
  8. ^ Long, Edward (1774). "The History of Jamaica Or, A General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of that Island: With Reflexions on Its Situation, Settlements, Inhabitants, Climate, Products, Commerce, Laws, and Government" (google). 2 (3/4): 445–475.
  9. ^ Gardner, William James (1909). History of Jamaica, From Its Discovery To The Year 1872. Appleton & Company. p. 184. ISBN 978-0415760997.
  10. ^ Allenye, Mervyn C. (2004). Jamaican Folk Medicine: A Source Of Healing. University of the West Indies Press. p. 36. ISBN 9789766401238.
  11. ^ "Running to Mother-Thugs Seek Guard Rings and Divine Protection". Jamaica Gleaner. 19 September 2010.
  12. ^ https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/online_research_catalogues/ag/asante_gold_regalia/i_history-significance-usage/iv.aspx
  13. ^ Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (1979). Nieuwe West-Indische gids. 53–55. Nijhoff. p. 14.
  14. ^ DeLoughrey, Elizabeth; Handley, George B. "Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment". New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2011: pp. 74.

Sources/ further reading

  • Lynch, Patricia Ann (2010), African Mythology, A to Z, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 9781438131337
  • Ephirim-Donkor, Anthony. African Personality and Spirituality: The Role of Abosom and Human Essence. Lexington Books, 2015 ISBN 978-1498521222
  • Opokuwaa, Nana Akua Kyerewaa. (2005-01-01). The Quest for Spiritual Transformation: Introduction to Traditional Akan Religion, Rituals and Practices. iUniverse. ISBN 9780595350711
Afro-American religion

Afro-American religion (also known as African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas in various nations of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. They derive from traditional African religions with some influence from other religious traditions, notably Christianity.

Akwasidae Festival

The Akwasidae Festival (alternate, Akwasiadae) is celebrated by the Ashanti people and chiefs in Ashanti, as well as the Ashanti diaspora. The festival is celebrated on a Sunday, once every six weeks. The Akwasidae Festival is next only in importance to The National Day celebrations.

Anyi people

The Anyi people (or Agnis) are an Akan subgroup in southwest Ghana and southeast Ivory Coast. They are an Akan people who speak the Anyi language.

Asase Ya

Asase Ya (or Asase Yaa, Asaase Yaa, Asaase Afua; is the Earth goddess of fertility of the Ashanti people ethnic group of Ashanti City-State of Ghana. She is also known as Mother Earth or Aberewaa.Asase Yaa is the wife of Nyame the Sky deity, who created the universe. Asase Yaa gave birth to the two children, Bea and Tano. Bea is also named Bia.Asase Yaa is also the mother of Anansi, the trickster, and divine stepmother of the sacred high chiefs.Asase Yaa is very powerful, though no temples are dedicated to her, instead she is worshipped in the agricultural fields of Ashanti City-State.Asase Yaa's favoured Ashanti people are occupationally Ashanti workers in the agricultural fields and planet Jupiter is her symbol.

Ashanti Yam Festival

The Ashanti Yam Festival is an annual celebration of the Ashanti people of Ashanti. It marks the first harvest of yams during the autumn season, after the monsoon season. The yam is the staple food crop in Ashanti and most of Africa.

Ashanti people

Ashanti ( (listen)), also known as Asante, are an ethnic group native to the Ashanti Region of modern-day Ghana. The Asante speak Twi. The language is spoken by over nine million ethnic Asante people as a first or second language. Asante is often assumed to mean "because of wars".The wealthy gold-rich Asante people developed the large and influential Asante Empire, along the Lake Volta and Gulf of Guinea. The empire was founded in 1670, and the Asante capital Kumase was founded in 1680 the late 17th century by Asantehene (emperor) Osei Kofi Tutu I on the advice of Ɔkͻmfoͻ Anͻkye, his premier. Sited at the crossroads of the Trans-Saharan trade routes, the Kumase megacity's strategic location contributed significantly to its growing wealth. Over the duration of the Kumasi metropolis' existence, a number of peculiar factors have combined to transform the Kumase metropolis into a fitting financial centre and political capital. The main causal factors included the unquestioning loyalty to the List of rulers of Asante monarchy and the Kumase metropolis' growing wealth, derived in part from the capital's lucrative domestic-trade in items such as bullion.

Awukudae Festival

Awukudae Festival (meaning: "Wednesday ceremony", is a traditional Ashanti festival in Ashanti. Like the Akwasidae Festival, celebrated on a Sunday, Awukudae is part of the celebrations within the Adae Festival cycle. The festivals of Adae are not interchangeable, having been fixed from ancient times.

Brandenburger Gold Coast

The Brandenburger Gold Coast, later Prussian Gold Coast, was a part of the Gold Coast. The Brandenburg colony existed from 1682 to 1720, when king Frederick William I of Prussia sold it for 7200 ducats to the Dutch Republic.

Ghanaian Arabs

Ghanaian Arabs (Akan: Nkɔmbɔtwetwe Arabia Gaana; Arabic: غانيون عرب‎) are Ghanaians and citizens of Arab origin or descent. Ghanaian Arabs are mainly from Lebanon, Syria and Arab Maghreb. Ghana has the largest Arab population in western Africa.

Ghanaian Indian

Ghanaian Indians (Akan: Nkɔmbɔtwetwe India Gaana; Hindi: घाना के भारतीय; Tamil: கானா இந்தியர்கள்; Malayalam: ഘാനയിലെ ഇന്ത്യക്കാര്‍; Telugu: ఘానా భారతీయులు) are Ghanaians citizens of Indian origin or descent. Many Ghanaian Indians are descendants from those who migrated from India following India's partition in 1947.

Jamaican Maroon religion

The traditional Jamaican Maroon religion otherwise known as Kumfu was developed by a mixing of West and Central African religious practices in Maroon communities. While the traditional religion of the Maroons was absorbed by Christianity due to conversions in Maroon communities, many old practices continued on. Some have speculated that Jamaican Maroon religion helped the development of Kumina and Convince. The religious Kromanti dance is still practiced today but not always with the full religious connotation as in the past.

Kromanti dance

Kromanti dance or Kromanti play (capitalised to Kromanti Dance or Kromanti Play) is a Jamaican Maroon religious ceremony practiced by Jamaican Maroons. It is rooted in traditional African music and religious practices, especially those of the Akan people of Ghana. The name Kromanti (or Coromantee) derives from Kormantin (or Cormantin ) where a historical slave fort in the coast of Ghana was located. Many slaves shipped to Jamaica during the Atlantic Slave trade originated from present–day Ghana in West Africa.The pure form of Kromanti dance is not one of those contemporary dances of Jamaica, neither is it a Jamaican party or hall dance, but a sacred dance based on the tenets of traditional African religious practices. Although the dance has influenced some aspects of Jamaican culture, and is still practiced today, the religious aspects of the dance are no longer performed as in the past—due to Jamaican Maroons' conversion to Christianity. Despite its modern twist, it is still concerned with solving problems of day-to-day life, such as illnesses resulting from spirit possessions, infidelity, and any other life problems. The Maroons viewed Kromanti dance as a form of metaphorical warfare, a protection on a spiritual level rather than a physical one.

Kwesi Dickson

Kwesi Abotsia Dickson (7 July 1929 – 28 October 2005) was a priest, theologian, author and academic. He was the seventh President of the Methodist Church Ghana and a professor at the University of Ghana, Legon.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.


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.

Religious symbol

A religious symbol is an iconic representation intended to represent a specific religion, or a specific concept within a given religion.

Religious symbols have been used in the military in many different countries, such as the United States military chaplain symbols. Similarly, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs emblems for headstones and markers recognize 57 symbols (including a number of symbols expressing non-religiosity).


Togoland was a German Empire protectorate in West Africa from 1884 to 1914, encompassing what is now the nation of Togo and most of what is now the Volta Region of Ghana, approximately 77,355 km2 (29,867 sq mi) in size. During the period known as the "Scramble for Africa", the colony was established in 1884 and was gradually extended inland.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the colony was invaded and quickly overrun by British and French forces during the Togoland campaign and placed under military rule. In 1916 the territory was divided into separate British and French administrative zones, and this was formalised in 1922 with the creation of British Togoland and French Togoland.

Traditional African religions

The traditional African religions (or traditional beliefs and practices of African people) are a set of highly diverse beliefs that include various ethnic religions. Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural, include belief in a supreme creator, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic and traditional African medicine. The role of humanity is generally seen as one of harmonising nature with the supernatural. According to Lugira, "it is the only religion that can claim to have originated in Africa. Other religions found in Africa have their origins in other parts of the world."

West African Vodun

Vodun (meaning spirit in the Fon and Ewe languages, pronounced [vodṹ] with a nasal high-tone u; also spelled Vodon, Vodoun, Vodou, Voudou, Voodoo, etc.) is practiced by the Fon people of Benin, and southern and central Togo; as well in Ghana, and Nigeria.

It is distinct from the various traditional African religions in the interiors of these countries and is the main source of religions with similar names found among the African diaspora in the Americas, such as Haitian Vodou; Dominican Vudú; Cuban Vodú; Brazilian Vodum (candomblé jeje and tambor de mina); Puerto Rican Vudú (Sanse); and Louisiana Voodoo.

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