Akan religion

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Adinkra symbol representing the omnipotence and omnipresence of Nyame

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. 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 Fanti, 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 wise 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]


Creator God[edit]

Followers of Akan spirituality believe in a supreme god who created the universe. He is distant and does not interact with humans.[citation needed]

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 Kokuroko ("the great designer" or "the great spider").[4] There is no concept of the trinity in Akan religion like Christianity but rather the veneration of the Creator, Mother Earth and the ancestors besides the abosom.[5][6]

The supreme creator is an omniscient, omnipotent sky father called Nyame. Asase Yaa (also known as Mother Earth), is second to the creator.[7] Together they brought forth four children: Bia, Epo, Bosomtwe and Tano. The Creator is connected to saturdays and saturday-borns[8] while Asase Yaa (Mother Earth) is connected to thursdays and thursday-borns and hence, revered by farmers on thursdays.[9]


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 (such as Lwa in Haitian Vodun, 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 humankind. 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 abosom were divided into three groups; the atano (gods from water bodies such as rivers, led by Tano), ewim (sky gods) and the abo (gods from the forests). The ewim were considered to be judgemental and merciless whiles the abo were sources of healing and medicine. They also have different realms in Asoro (the realm of the gods).

List of Abosom[edit]

Abena Motianim - Goddess of wisdom, knowledge and divination.

Abommubuwafre - The Consoler

Abowie – A Goddess of healing & sterility

Adwele - This deity is associated with the sun and is often invoked for blessings

Afua Kranka – Champion of War and Conquest

Ahosu - The deity of hunting and the protector of wildlife, called upon for successful hunts. In myths, she killed people who overhunted or overharvested the forest’s resources

Akonadi – Oracular goddess of justice

Akranteɛ - God of Crops and Agriculture

Amaomee - The Giver of Sufficiency

Adu Ogyinae - The deity of judgment and justice, known for punishing wrongdoers and protecting the innocent.

Amelenwa - Goddess of rivers, and justice. Merciless and unforgiving.

Amosu - The Giver of Rain

Amowia - The Giver of Light

Amokeye – Guardian of Asamando

Amponsah - The god of wealth and prosperity, worshipped for success in business and financial endeavours

Anigye – Primordial deity of fun and earthly fulfilment

Aniwaa - A goddess of beauty and charm, worshipped for her ability to bring beauty, especially to unborn babies, but also to people who want a glow – up.

Antoa - The deity associated with justice and revenge, often invoked in seeking retribution against wrongdoers

Anyigbato – The Conqueror of Death and Disease

Asase Ya/Afua – Mother Earth

Ashiakle – Goddess of the treasures of the ocean

Asuo Gyebi - Asuo Gyebi is the deity associated with water bodies, especially rivers. He is seen as a source of life, purification, and spiritual cleansing. Eighth human incarnation of Anyigbato, and the second one to become a god.

Bia – God of the wilderness and the trees

Bele Alua – Tree Goddess

Borebore - The Creator-Architect

Brekyirihunuade - The Seer, or "he who knows or sees all"

Eshu: God of Travellers

Fietena Afua – The Dog – headed goddess of housing, cooking, cleaning, and other domestic activities.

Kobina Takyi - The deity of courage and bravery, invoked by warriors and those facing challenges.

Owuo – God of Death

Mawu - A deity of creation and the moon, often associated with fertility and divination

Nana - The Great Ancestor

Nkrabea - The deity of destiny and fate, believed to influence human fortunes and life paths.

Nkunim - The deity of victory in war, called upon by warriors for victory and protection in battle.

Nkwa - The deity of the drum, often invoked for musical inspiration, rhythm, and dance.

Nsoromma Maame - The deity represented by the "Morning Star" or "Venus," associated with guidance, hope, and protection.

Nsura - A deity of healing and medicine, associated with the knowledge and practice of traditional medicine. Second human incarnation of Anyigbato. Unlike her predecessor, she became a goddess.

Nyaamanekose - The Comforter

Pokukrom - A deity of fire, worshipped for the cleansing and transformative power of fire.

Sakumo – God of war, duels, and combat. Guardian deity of the Ga tribe.

Sogblen - Messenger god. Considered to relay the prayers of devotees to the great gods and to return with blessings or punishment. Generally benevolent, bringing the boon of fertile crops and children.

Soului – God of vegetation, A benevolent deity who can bestow wealth as well as good harvests. Also, God of Medicine and of the sounds of music.

Tano Akora/ Obomuhene/ Nana Ko Nim – God of War and Thunder

Tiam Ntɔn – God of the sounds and flashes of thunder and thunderstorms, said to beat a drum in the clouds which makes the sound of thunder

Tu – Primordial deity of spirituality and spiritual fulfilment, as well as flight and freedom

Wango – Kind but protective goddess of family.

Yaw Abasi – Giver of creativity and inspiration



The Nsamanfo are the ancestors. They are prayed to in a similar way as the way Christians pray to God.

In the Americas[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 Twi were documented. Enslaved Akan would praise Nyankopong (erroneously written by the British as Accompong, not related to the Maroon leader Accompong [Twi: Akyeampon]); 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.[11] 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.[12]

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

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.[13] 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[14][15]


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.[16]


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.[17]


  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. ^ "Akan Cosmology". Archived from the original on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  5. ^ On the Rationality of Traditional Akan Religion: Analyzing the Concept of God.
  6. ^ Lynch 2010, p. 93.
  7. ^ Opokuwaa, Nana Akua Kyerewaa (1 January 2005). The Quest for Spiritual Transformation: Introduction to Traditional Akan Religion, Rituals and Practices. iUniverse. ISBN 9780595350711.
  8. ^ Sabbath Observance among the Akans of Ghana and Its Impact on the Growth of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ghana (PDF).
  9. ^ Lynch 2010, p. 94.
  10. ^ "Nyame". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  11. ^ 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. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Gardner, William James (1909). History of Jamaica, From Its Discovery To The Year 1872. Appleton & Company. p. 184. ISBN 978-0415760997.
  13. ^ Allenye, Mervyn C. (2004). Jamaican Folk Medicine: A Source of Healing. University of the West Indies Press. p. 36. ISBN 9789766401238.
  14. ^ "Running to Mother-Thugs Seek Guard Rings and Divine Protection". Jamaica Gleaner. 19 September 2010.
  15. ^ "British Museum - I.v".
  16. ^ Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (1979). Nieuwe West-Indische gids. Vol. 53–55. Nijhoff. p. 14.
  17. ^ DeLoughrey, Elizabeth; Handley, George B. "Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment". New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2011: pp. 74.

Sources/ further reading[edit]

  • 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