Book Excerpt Part II: The Influence Of Ancient Egypt On The Akan People Of Ghana
The following is a second excerpt from The Akan of Ghana: Aspects of Past & Present Practices by Kofi Ayim
Besides Aberewa Musu, there were other matriclan mothers in ancient Egypt whose names were carried down along the way into the present-day Akan name structure. Tiaa was one such name.Pharaoh Thutmose IV elevated his mother Tiaa to the role of “god’s wife of Amun (Amen),” thus divinizing her to the status of the goddess Mut. Aberewa (elder matriarch) Tiaa, in a typical Akan family concept, is the “all-knowing” primus inter pares elder of a given family. She plays a key role in family matters and cannot be bypassed in serious family deliberations. Further, Tiaa is a common Akan female name found among several families.
Aso is another ancient Akan female name that was also the name of a mythical ancient Ethiopian queen. Anima, another ancient Egyptian female name means “breath of life.” Saara, which is rendered in the Bible as Sarah or elsewhere as Sarai, is another matriarchal name.
While we’re at it, we must also not forget that the Akan equivalent of the biblical Adam is Odame, for the ancient and original meaning of Adam is “of the red earth; the feminine source.” Odame or ‘Dame in Akan alludes to the red element on top of the head of a male rooster (what the British refer to as cock), -akoko da me. The etymology of both Adam and ‘Dame are therefore the same – red! Several African cultures have the equivalent name of Adam.
Referring to the Akan Soul Name chart on page 114 of the book under review, it is clear that among the by-names of a Saturday born-boy (Kwame) or girl (Amma) are Nyamekye (God’s gift), Atoapem (there is nothing beyond Him), and Ote-ananka-nnuro (antidote to – or healer of – a serpent bite). The response to greetings of a Saturday born is yaaAmen. The yaa is an expression of endearment, which literally means “I hear….”
The God Amen was originally of the Ethiopian Kushite religion, the timeless God who created the universe. In fact, in Akan name configuration, Onyankopon, God, is associated with Saturday. His soul name is therefore Kwame. (The Akan observed that the white man attends to or worships his God on Sunday, and therefore associated his God with Kwasi, which is a boy born on a Sunday. Kwasi Buroni is the epithet used to refer to a whiteman). Onyankopon’s spirit is Amen, as per the Akan cosmological name structure.
Thus, be it traditional prayer – libation – or Christian rendering, God is referred to as Onyankopon Twereduapon Kwame (Dependable God of Saturday). According to Gerald Massey, the word “amen” was used by ancient Egyptians as a call to come or a reference to the “the coming one.” It is this same Amen that both Christians and Muslims holler at the end of their prayers as Amen or Ameen, respectively! It must be very clear from the above narrative, that the Akan (and Africans in general) therefore knew their deity, Amen, long before Christianity, Islam, and other religions came into being. In essence Africans gifted their deity Amen to other faiths!
By virtue of the landscape and desert terrain of Egypt, poisonous snakes were abundant. To the ancient Egyptians, the Divine healer of serpent bites was no other entity that the God Amen. It was only He, Onyankopon Twereduapon Kwame, who had the healing powers to serpent bites, hence Ote- ananka-nnuro.
On the flip side of Akan soul names, the name Amma (a Saturday-born girl of the Akan) complements its male partner. In the Dogon Civilization (the Dogon had a deep knowledge of the Sirius, or what the Egyptians called Shopdu, and could chart the course of the bright star with the naked eye), Amma was a Goddess of water and rain of the Mandingo people with similar attributes as Amen, the God of Egypt. In fact, Amma was known throughout the Nile Valley as Amon or Amen (which reinforces the by-name of Amma as Amen), a self-created Goddess of the firmament.
Yaw and Yaa, the soul names of Akan boy and girl born on Thursday, present another interesting analysis, for they are the only soul names among the seven-day week that are unique by virtue of their starting with Y. All other soul names of males start with K, while those of females start with A.
In the mythology of ancient Egypt, Iu was the son of Ptah (the Greek Hephaistos, credited with discovering or creating fire). Ptah, as bore bore (the Divine Sculptor), was the manifestation of the Creator of the Universe, Amen. In the Memphite theology, Ptah was the Creator, who bequeathed and manifested his animated power to the other deities. The name Iu was written in various forms by ancient peoples such as the Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Greeks as Iau, Yau, Yahu, Yahwe (Yweh), etc. Churchward tells us that Iu dates as far back as 6000 B.C. It is important to note that Yahweh (just as the deities Chenku, Akonedi, Krachi Dente, Tigare, Kofi Dade, AtiaMframa, or AntoaNyama, etc of the Gold Coast/Ghana) emerged as the most powerful and common deity among the lot in ancient times.
Massey tells us that “there was a religion of the god Iu or Iao in Egypt thirteen thousand years ago,” and that “those who worshiped him as Atum became the Adamites, the Edomites, the red men; those who worshiped him as Iao, Iah, or Iubecame the Jews in many lands, and these are the Jews of that world-wide dispersion recognized by Isaiah.” Of these Jews, Massey continues, “They were only ethnical at root when the race was black, whether these were the black Jews in Africa or in India.” Finch also tells us, “The worshippers of the Mother’s Son were worshippers of Iu, which means ‘he who comes,’ and who was the Mother’s first male consort, before ‘the fatherhood became known.’ Iu is identical to the Hebrew Iah, the Gnostics [and Phoenicians] Iao, and the Celtic Hu.’”
If Iao (Yahweh) is Yaw, the god of heaven, then Yaa – the female counterpart– is the god of the earth, what is commonly termed by most Akan people as AsaaseYaa (Mother Earth of Thursday) since earth is the antithesis of heaven. It must be realized that in Akan concepts, AsaaseYaa is the deity of death and resurrection in the underworld. The Fante (an ethnic group of the Akan) recognizes Asaase Afua (Mother Earth whose day is Friday) as the fertility deity.
Until the advent of Christianity and science, and in fact as recently as a few decades ago, if Akan parents lost two or three children consecutively, the child who was born next was given the name Odonkor/Donkor, derived from odontinnko, “for the sake of love don’t go” (back to where you came from).
The belief was that a mythical mother in the spiritual realm would once a while provocatively gift a child to the physical world, only to snatch her child back before adulthood. Such a child was therefore disguised with uncombed and dreadlocked mpesempese hairs stuck with (pre-independence) British hollow pennies and/or cowries and several tribal marks made on the cheeks.
The mythical Mother (so the belief goes) would “reject” the child as not the one she presented to the earthly world and would therefore refuse to take her back when she wanted to. The child therefore lives! In ancient Egypt until the age of 12, when childhood ended and the first phase of adulthood began, every child wore the mpesempesedreadlock.
According to Massey, “the Horus lock was emblematic of the reappearing one.” The mpesepese of an Akan child was indubitably the remnants of the Horus lock of ancient Egypt, and partially similar to the contemporary Rastafarian dreadlocks. The reappearing one typifies a child who “comes and goes.”
Modern science or medicine would attribute both the Donkor child and the Horus lock of a reappearing one to child mortality common in ancient Egypt and the Akan nation of yesteryear!
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