September 17, 2015
Adinkra is an Akan word which literally means ‘’Goodbye’’ or ‘’Farewell’’. The Adinkra symbols are visuals which represent concept or aphorism. As an aphorism, it tells and expresses general truth, principle or an astute observation that is either spoken or written in a concise and memorable form. E.g.: GYE NYAME symbol
This symbol means ‘’Except God’’, that is the supremacy of God. He is omnipresent and omnipotent. Literally meaning to fear no one except God.
Over the years, Akans have created and developed different and many Adinkra symbols. These symbols as a terse language go to express concisely, sometimes in an unfriendly manner people’s beliefs, values, morals and norms in their culture. Every society has a language of communication to its people. And for Akans , the adinkra symbols does just that. Like every language, it tells a thought, expresses a truth, fact or an observation in life and society at large to its people. The Adinkra symbols as a language seeks and serves that purpose of communication in our society.
All the Adinkra symbols communicate and express a statement of fact or truth. A look at any adinkra symbol would communicate a meaning, idea or a value to you, if you can only interpret the symbol. Hence telling of the people’s beliefs, attitudes, environment or situation in life. Also some of the symbols tell of folktales, philosophies and the cultures of the Akan people. Because of its unique visuals and designs, in modern times now, it is used and incorporated as creative elements in cotton cloth designs, metal work, pottery, and even sculpture or architecture work.
The symbols are used in making varied items and things in modern art work like jewellery, bags etc. It must be noted however that, these Adinkra symbols stand to remind us, as a people of where we come from, why we do the things we do, how we live, how far we have come and also how we will get to our destinations in this life and in the next as we go along. So the next time you see an Adinkra symbol, ask the meaning and see if there is a truth being told or a fact being represented and how you as an individual will carry out that information given by these visual symbols called the ‘’ADINKRA’’- bidding you ‘’Goodbye’’ or ‘’Farewell’’ in your life’s journeys.
Here are some of the Adinkra symbols and their meanings:
Script ref: Genesis 39:8, 22, Psalm 37:5
Script ref: psalm 133:1, Judges 20:11, 1 chronicles 12:17
Script ref: Genesis 2:9. 3:8
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list. Thanks so much for reading. I sure would appreciate your feedback and contributions on the subject.
* Th article was contributed by Joycelyn Mambee Igiri *