Aspects Of The Akan Belief System

Akan is the largest ethnic group residing in Ghana and adjacent parts of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The Akan people constitute a meta-ethnic group with their religious beliefs having an ardent relationship with their culture. There are various aspects to their ideologies, some of which shall be discussed herein.

Multiplicity of spirits: They believe in the presence of multiple spirits in the universe. According to them, cosmos, is divided into two, inseparable yet distinguishable parts – the world of spirits and the world of humans. The world of spirits is believed to be further classified into four categories, namely,

The Supreme God, divinities or Gods, ancestors and charms or amulets.

Akan are monotheists with their belief in the existence of one Supreme Being, one Supreme God who is the creator of the universe. The Supreme God is known by various names such as Onyankopon, Onyame or Odomankoma. Next to HIM are various divinities or Gods that are referred to as abosom. These are believed to be the children of God. For example, Asase Yaa is considered to be the earth goddess, responsible for fertility. These divinities are further divided into state gods, family or clan gods and gods of the medicine man. In Akan ideology, Gods are also associated with rivers, forests, rocks, mountains, lakes etc. After these Gods, come the ancestors or ancestral spirits which are treated to be far above the abosom. These ancestral spirits play an important role in the life of Akan people. It is believed that the ancestors continue to live after death and affect the lives of people by rewarding or punishing them. Thus, in order to be happy and lead a life full of peace and tranquillity, it is required that these ancestral spirits be appeased. Lastly, we come to charms and amulets. In the physical world of human beings, there are always some unseen negative or evil forces that are working against the mankind preventing them from living their life fully. It is here that the charms and amulets come to their rescue. All the prayers and religious exercises that are carried out are done with a purpose to harness the power of these spirit forces and use it for one’s own advantage.

If one looks closely at the religious beliefs of Akan, one can find that everything is done to be able to live one’s present life fully. They do not believe in preparing for life after death at the cost of their present.

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