Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Roots Of & Characteristics Associated With Akan Day Names (Ghana & The Ivory Coast, West Africa)

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revision: March 23, 2018

[The previous title for this post was "Names For Days Of The Week In Akan (Ghana & The Ivory Coast"]

This pancocojams post provides information about names for days of the week in Akan language, including the roots and meanings (characteristics) of Akan names for the days of the week. Akan is mostly spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast, West Africa.

This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series that provides information about and lists for day names in various African languages. Click the "African languages days of the week" tag to find other posts in this ongoing series.

The content of this post is presented for linguistic, cultural, and educational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
This post replaces a deleted pancocojams post entitled "Akan Days Of The Week & Akan Day Names And Their Meanings" that was published in July 21, 2016

Excerpt #1
From Akan (Twi) at Rutgers
"Akan refers to the language of the Akan ethnic group of Ghana. It is also spoken in the central and eastern part of Cote d’Ivoire. Akan comprises three main mutually intelligible dialects: Fante, Asante Twi and Akwapim Twi. Asante Twi is the widely used.

Akan is the most widely spoken and used indigenous language in Ghana. About 44%, of Ghana’s population of about 22 million, speak Akan as first language. However, about 80% of Ghanaians speak Akan as a first and second language. It is officially recognized for literacy, at least at the lower primary (Primary 1-3) level, and studied at university as a bachelor or masters program. It is the most important indigenous language of Ghana. It is the language of the Western, Central, Ashanti, Eastern, Brong Ahafo regions, and the northern portion of the Volta region of Ghana. A form of Akan is also spoken in South America, notably Suriname and Jamaica. The language came to these places through the slave trade. Akan names and folktales are still used in these countries. With the present state of technology, one can listen to live radio broadcasts in Akan from numerous radio stations from Akan is studied in major universities in the United States, including Ohio University, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin, Harvard University, Boston University, Indiana University, Michigan University, and The University of Florida. It has been a regular African language of study in the annual Summer Cooperative African Languages Institute (SCALI) program.

Akan belongs to the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo language family. It has some unique linguistic features like tone, vowel harmony and nasalization."...
This article is reformatted for this post.

Excerpt #2:
"Ashanti, (rightly Asante) or Asante Twi pronunciation: Asantefo ; singular masculine: Asantenibarima, singular feminine: Asantenibaa), are a nation and ethnic group native to the Ashanti Region located centrally on the Ashantiland Peninsula.

The Asante people speak the Asante dialect of Twi. The language is spoken by over nine million ethnic Asante people as a first or second language.[1][2] The word Ashanti is an English language misnomer. Asante literally means "because of wars".[3] The wealthy gold-rich Asante people developed a large and influential empire; the Ashanti Empire along the Lake Volta and Gulf of Guinea.[4] The Ashanti are believed to descend from Abyssinians, who were pushed south by the Egyptian forces.[5][6]

Excerpt #3
Akan names
"The Akan people of Ghana and the Ivory Coast frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. These "day names" have further meanings concerning the soul and character of the person. Middle names have considerably more variety and can refer to their birth order, twin status, or an ancestor's middle name.

This naming tradition is shared throughout West Africa and the African diaspora. During the 18th–19th centuries, slaves in the Caribbean from the region that is modern-day Ghana were referred to as Coromantees. Many of the leaders of slave rebellions had "day names" including Cuffy or Kofi, Cudjoe or Kojo, and Quamina or Kwame/Kwamina.

Most Ghanaians have at least one name from this system, even if they also have an English or Christian name. Notable figures with day names include Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.


Day born*
Sunday - Kwasíada
Root - Asi
Association – Universe
Twi Male Name: Kwasí
Twi Female Name: Akosua
Fanti Male Name: Quashie,
Fanti Female Name: Quasheba

Monday- Ɛdwóada
Root: Dwo
Association: Peace
Twi Male Name: Kwadwó
Twi Female Name: Adwoa
Fanti Male Name: Cudjoe/Kojo/Quajo,
Fanti Female Name: Adjoa/Ajuba/Juba

Tuesday - (Ɛbénada)
Root: Bene
Association: Ocean
Twi Male Name: Kwabená
Twi Female Name: Abenaa, Abénaa
Fanti Male Name: Quabena,
Fanti Female Name: Abena/Bena

Wednesday - (Wukúada)
Root: Wukuo
Association: Spider**
Twi Male Name: Kwakú
Twi Female Name: Akua, Akúá, Akuba
Fanti Male Name: Quaco,
Fanti Female Name: Aqua/Acooba/Cooba

Thursday - (Yáwóada)
Root: Ya
Association: Earth
Twi Male Name: Yaw
Twi Female Name: Yaa
Fanti Male Name: Quaw,
Fanti Female Name: Aba/Yaaba

Friday - (Efíada)
Root: Afi
Association: Fertility
Twi Male Name: Kofí
Twi Female Name- Afua
Fanti Male Name: Cuffy
Fanti Female Name: Afiba/Fiba

Saturday - (Méméneda)
Root: Mene
Association: God
Twi Male Name: Kwámè, Kwǎmè,
Twi Female Name: Ám̀ma, Ámmá
Fanti Male Name: Quame/Quamina
Fanti Female Name: Ama

*This is an amended version of the information that is given in a chart on that Wikipedia page. That Wikipedia chart also includes Akan variants of these day names that are given to males or females and the day names in the Akan based Ndyuka language, a creole language of Suriname, spoken by the Ndyuka people.

**In Wikipedia's Akan day name chart, the word "spider" is linked to My summary of the meaning of Anansi (spider) in Akan culture as well as in the African Diaspora of Jamaica and the United States etc. is that Anansi symbolized/s wisdom and using your mind to overcome adversity.

*** In his article "The Sociolinguistic of Akan Personal Names", instead of "spider" Kofi Agyekum (University of Ghana, Legon) gives the following associations for these day names (The Akan names for the days themselves and for the male/female names for people born on those days that are given above are the same):
Sunday - agility
Monday - peace
Tuesday - friendliness
Wednesday -evil
Thursday- brave
Friday- wanderer/traveler
Saturday: male: combat ready’, snakebite herbalist / female: creation/grace
With regard to "evil" as the characteristic (association) for males and females born on Wednesday. In attempting to "suss" out this characteristics, it occurs to me that in Anansi stories, spider is a trickster who has to use his mind to get out of trouble. I wonder if "evil" is a later ascribed characteristic for Wednesday born. Perhaps spider might have also meant "cunning", "resourceful" and quick witted" (which could have been interpreted by some as "evil" in that people with those characteristics tend to disrupt the status quo.

Excerpt #4:
From Akan Days Names, Creative Acts And Their Meanings, Posted on November 21, 2012 by obibini, culled from [as indicated in that article]

(Pancocojams Editor's comment: Corrections to typos are given in brackets. I've reformatted this excerpt to improve its readability.]

"ONYANKOPON KWAME-The Great Name of God
The word ‘OIAMEKOPON’ is what has been corrupted into ‘ONYANKOPON.’ Each syllable signifies one of the characteristics of GOD.

“O” is the shortest and most basic name of GOD in Akan. It signifies HIS/HER universality,completeness and perfection.This has something to do with the Sun. ”O” also signifies a Being or agent capable of achieving a purpose,as in ‘Onipa’,’Otumfuo’,’Oboade3’,’Onyansafo,’etc, etc.

“IA”,which can be written “YA”, ”JA” or “EA” meaning “being” or “agent” has been corrupted to “(N)YA ,“ which connotes wisdom, as in “NYANSA.”

“ME” signifies a Self –Consciousness personality.”ME” also means “I” in Akan and could mean satisfaction as found in the word “OMEE”(satisfaction).

“KO” means “one” and points to the oneness of God as a Being without a rival.

“PON” means “great” and depicts the supremacy of God as the sovereign of the universe. This idea of greatness appears in words like “Obrempon”,”Odupon”,etc

The Akan day name for God is KWAME,which was originally “KO-YA-ME” or “KO-IA-ME,” can be etymologically broken up into the syllables KO, YA and ME.

“KO” means “Life” as found in “KOSUA” (egg) which, when written properly is “KO-SU-YA”(literally ‘life-water-being’) signifying “water-containing-life being.”

“SU” is the ancestral form of “NSUO” (water).e.g “KOTO”(crab) translates into “empty life” because of a crab’s hollow nature /emptiness.

“YA/IA/EA” means “agent”,”being”, or father as in “AGYA.”

“ME” means “satisfaction” or “I. ”Putting the syllables together, ”KO-YA-ME” translates into “satisfied father of life.”

It is for ease of pronunciation and assimilation of sounds that “KO-YA” became “KWA” through contraction.
Hence “KWA” means “Father of life, wisdom” or “The Life Being”(signifying original source of life).

“KWA” is therefore also one of the basic names of God.

“KWASIADA” means the day on which “KWA”(the Creator) descended.

“DA” means ‘day’ and “SI” means ‘to descend.’ ”KWASIADA” (KO-YA-SI-DA) therefore means “Creator-of-Life-Descended-Day”. That is, the day on which “KWA” descended to begin creating the world.

Males/females born on this day are named KWASI AND ESI respectively. KWASI(KO-YA-SI) means “the Lord of Life Descent” and ESI means “descent.”

KWASI and ESI are therefore names to commemorate the 1st creative act of God which was HIS/HER descent that brought light.

“DWOADA”(Monday) corresponds to the day on which “KWA” created the firmament.

The Akan word for firmament or sky is “YU”,”WI” or “YU-MU” which became “WIM” and is now being corrupted into “DWO” to mean ‘cool’ or ‘cold’ [since] “WI”(firmament) itself is regarded as being cold. Another word used in translating ‘firmament’ is “NTREMU” which connotes “expanse"...

KWAYUDA” or “KWAWIWDA(KO-YA-YU-DA), means “Lord of Life Firmament day” and is the 2nd day of the week.

“KWADWO/ADWOA [therefore means] ”Lord of Life Firmamant Day.”

“BENADA,BENEADA, or BEDA (Tuesday) is the 3rd day of the week and the day on which land was made to appear.

“BE” is the root word for “BEA” which means place,location or land in Akan.”BE-NA-DA” therefore translates into “Land’s Day” or “Day of the Land”(BE-DA).

It is for this reason that fishermen do not go to sea on Tuesdays in Ghana.

“KWA-BE-NA-DA” or “KO-YA-BE-NE-DA) which has been shortened to “KWABENA” means “Lord of Life’s Land Day.” “ABENA” means “Land’s Day.”

WUKUADA”(Wednesday), according to the book of Genesis was the day on which the heavenly hosts (sun,moon and stars) appeared.

“WUKUADA” was originally pronounced “YU-KU-DA” or “WI-KU-DA.”

“YU” or “WI” means heavens,sky, or firmament.

“KU” means “group”,”society” or “host.”Hence “WUKUADA/YUKUDA/WIKUDA”
means “the Day of the Heavenly Hosts.” That is,the day on which the heavenly hosts(sun,moon,stars) became visible or appeared.

“WUKUADA”(4TH day) is the shortened form of “KWAYUKUWDA”(KO-YA-(YU)-KU-DA) meaning “Lord of Life’s Sky (heavenly) Host Day .

“KWAKU” therefore means “Lord of Life’s Group/Host.Kwaku /AKUA commemorate the creation of the sun, moon and stars.

“YAWOADA”(Thursday), the 5th day of creation,was the day on which various life forms (plants,animals,..) were created.

“YA” means “Life”.

“WO” means “bring forth” or “reproduce”

“DA” means “day”

“YAWOADA” therefore means “the day life was brought forth, began or was born.”That is,”Day of Reproduction.”
Akans call earth(ASASE) “YAA” in recognition of the earth bringing forth “life” for the 1st time on creation Thursday.

KWAW, KWAWO, KOYAWO/YAW(YAO)/YAA/AYA/AWO therefore commemorate this day and mean “Lord-of-Life Reproduction.”

“FIADA/FIDA”(Friday) is a combination of 2 words in Akan. “FI” means “home” and “DA” means “day.”
Hence “FIADA” means “home day.”That is the day on which the 1st home was created or
Established.This corresponds with “Eden”(the 1st garden-home) being made for man/woman on the 6th day of the week. It also signifies “couple life”(the day man and woman lived in or established a home together).

“FIADA” is a shortened form of “KWAOFIDA(KO-YA-OFI-DA) which means “Lord of Life’s Home Day.”

KOFI/AFIA therefore mean “Lord of Life Home” and commemorate the creation of the 1st home in the Garden of Eden and the institution of marriage.

“MEMENEDA/MEMEMDA (Saturday) is the 7th day of the week .

“ME” is one of the names of GOD which means “satisfaction.” When “MEN” or “MEN(E) is shortened into “MEE”, it comes to mean “the satisfaction day of ME;” hence “MEMENEDA” means the “satisfaction day of God.”

The Akan word for “rest” is “HO-ME” and so the day of rest is called “HO-ME-DA.”

“MEMEEDA” could mean “ME-HOMEDA, ”i.e “I AM’s rest day.”MEMENEDA” therefore translates into “God’s Rest Day.”
“I AM” is translated into Akan as “ME-NE,” thus “MEMENEDA” also connotes “I AM’s DAY.”

“KWAMEMENDA (KO-YA-ME-MEN-DA), meaning “Lord of Life’s Satisfaction Day” has been shortened to “KWAME.”
“KWAME/AMMA/AME/AMEMENA are names that commemorate the institution of rest, i.e KWA’s rest day.

This is why Akan societies observe Saturday as the Sabbath.

Akan day names therefore represent the creative acts of the Supreme God that the Akan have known and worshiped since ancient times..."

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