Ghanaian Cultural Lessons; Part 1(Adinkra Symbols)
Everywhere we go in this world, culture forms one of the most unique and dynamic characteristics of individual groups and people. Some are colourful, others are loud. Some are mysterious and others are funny. No matter where we find ourselves, culture is important because it shows us where we are from and the way of life of our people. In certain countries and ethnic groups, there are some symbols or signs which are used to represent important words or phrases. Often these are motivational, inspirational or religious.
Sometimes the symbols carry so much meaning that the mere sight of them makes us feel blessed. One of such cultural symbols in Ghana is the ‘’Adinkra’’. These are visual symbols with historical and philosophical importance which were printed on cloth for Ashanti leaders and rulers on special occasions.. Started by the Asante’s in Ghana, Adinkra symbols have assumed global importance and are now found on sculpture, earthenware pots, furniture and casual wear. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online travel website highlights a few popular Adinkra Symbols in Ghana.
Gye Nyame (Literally meaning except God)
Unmistakably the most popular and most prominent Adinkra symbol. It emphasizes the omnipotence of God and the fact that God is the only one who is capable of doing all things. It makes it evidently clear that nothing can be done without God. his power and sovereignty is portrayed with this symbol.No wonder many believers have made fashion accessories and ornaments in the form of this symbol. Many others even have them as a lucky charm. They are also used to make souvenirs and printed on cloth.
Nsoromma (Literally meaning child of the heavens)
As the symbol suggests, ‘’Nsoromma’’ shines so bright. As the symbol of guardianship, it is a solid reminder that God is indeed a supreme being and the father who watches over all people. His light shines over all and his tentacles spread over all. This symbol is used to exemplify anything bright. It gives hope to the downhearted who believe that God takes care of his own children and that light will shine on them eventually.
TAMFO BEBRE (Literally means the enemy will suffer)
It is a general awareness of ill-will, jealousy and envy. Being aware that not everyone loves you and wants your well-being is very important. This helps you to know how to relate with everyone and to plan your progress. Enemies bring with them negative energy and we are often engaged not to think about them or even consider their existence. One thing is very important though, just have one eye on those who are often not happy at your progress and success. You can sometimes identify them but in the event where you don’t know them, then you live your life and succeed in silence.
Dwannini Mmen (Literally meaning Ram’s Horns)
A symbol of strength and humility. The ram’s horns are very strong and can break through almost every barrier. It can stand the test of time and withstand adverse conditions. However, the ram is a very humble animal and used to symbolize humility in many parables and fables. This is a rare combination of strength and humility. To have both is simply amazing but to possess one of them is great.
AKOMA (literally means heart)
This symbol is very noticeable as it is often depicts love. It gets it’s name from it’s shape. It represents patience and tolerance which are two very important virtues of life. Everyone needs love but more importantly in every situation , we all need to be patient and tolerant. Just take a deep breathe and reflect on the past week. Has there been any instance where you have failed to be patient? Have you showed anyone love lately? This is your gentle reminder!
Although there are several other very important Adinkra symbols, these few stand out and are very meaningful to many Ghanaians and foreign visitors. You can ask for more or read about them online. Very good insights about the culture of Ghana.