The Akan Day Names, their meanings and creative acts
Did you know popular Akan names like Akua, Kwasi, Kwame, Yaa etc. all have deeper connotations than being particular days of the week?
For quite several us, these male and female names mean nothing on the surface level. No, you are not to blame for not understanding that there is a deeper meaning when westernization can be solely held responsible for losing some of our deeply rooted sense of culture.
From the way we speak to the food we eat to the clothes we wear, the festivals we hold and other things we do for fun, westernization has had a sweeping impact on our way of life. However, we must ensure to keep alive! Here I want to share the meanings and creative acts behind Ghanaian Day Names:
A few key points to bear in mind
- Just like with the Gregorian calendar, the Akan calendar is also made up of seven weekdays and the week starts with a Sunday. The differing point is that Saturday is the day of worship as opposed to Sunday.
- 6 day naming is called
- 7 day naming is called
Popular Akan names
Onyankopon is a widely used word that means God in Akan. It evolved from the word Oiamekopon. Interestingly, the letter O is regarded as a word that symbolizes the perfection and universality of God and every other syllable in this name has its weighty meaning as would be seen below.
O- This letter also has other connotations like “one’s ability to reach a life goal” “Onyansafo, Onipa, Oboade3, and Otumfuo” are all words that depict an individual’s will to achieve goals.
IA- also sometimes written as ‘Ja’, ‘Ea’ or ‘Ya’ refers to a being, though over time, this word has evolved to ‘(n)ya which in Akan means wisdom.
ME- like its English counterpart, it also means ‘I’ and it means satisfaction. Its use and meaning can be found in the word Omee.
KO- meaning one refers to an unrivalled God. God who is “one”
PON- it means greatness and it is used to symbolize the bounds of God’s power as a supreme being. Its use can be found in ‘Odupon’, and ‘Obrempon’
Another Akan name for God which has overtime been interchanged with Kwame or Koiame and just like Oiamekopon, each syllable in Koyame has its connotation, let’s talk about it below!
KO- meaning life as used in words like Kosuya or Kosua, the former and latter both connoting water containing life.
YA- also sometimes written as ‘Ja’, ‘Ea’ or ‘Ia’ refers to a being or in everyday use, father.
ME- as stated above means I.
So, in literal translation, Koyame means satisfied father of life. Over time, the use of KOYA has been lost in translation and what you would most likely find is the word KWA. So, you can emphatically say that this is one of God’s names.
It is worthy to note, as you would soon find that the male day names under the Akan tradition all begin with KWA.
NAME- KWASI, ESI
Like the Christian belief of the creation story, the Akans believe that the heavens and earth were created in 6 days and on the 7th day, God rested. Each name derives its existence from the creation story.
Kwasiada is used to depict the day God descended, the day God began to create. As Kwasi is to the males born on the 1st, so is Esi to the females. Essentially, these names mark the creating prowess of God, the beginning of it all!
NAMES- KWADWO, ADWOA
This is the day God made the firmament, sky if you may. The Akan word for the firmament (also known as cold) is ‘Yu-Mu’ or ‘Wi’ or ‘Yu’ overtime, these words have been fused to ‘wim’, a word which was further condensed to “Dwo” which means cool or cold.
So, Monday, AKA Dwoada, the second day of the week according to the creation story means ‘Lord of Life firmament day’ and so does Kwadwo and Adwoa.
NAMES- KWABENA, ABENA
Also known as Beda or Beneada, Tuesday is the 3rd day in the creation story, the day Kwa created dry land. The syllable ‘Bea’ means the place in Akan so, the literal translation of Benada is ‘the day of the land’. It is regarded as a sacred day hence the agelong tradition of fishermen not going to the seas or rivers on Tuesday to fish.
Koyabeneda or Kwabenada commonly used for males and also known as Kwabena means ‘The Lord of Life’s day of the land’ while Abena, the female name means ‘the land’s day’
NAMES- KWAKU, AKUA
This is the fourth day of creation, the day God adorned the skies with the moon, sun and stars. Originally pronounced Wikuda or Yukuda, which means ‘day of the heavenly hosts’ was made from a fusion of meaningful syllables ‘Wi’ which means the firmament or the sky, ‘Ku’ which means host or group. So the name Kwaku (male) means Lord of Life’s host while Akua celebrates the creation of the heavenly bodies.
NAMES- YAA, YAW
This is the fifth day of creation and it was the day life was created first. God made animals of various kinds and plants on this day. As with the other days of the week, this is also made from a fusion of meaningful syllables which includes.
So, there is little wonder Yawoada means the day life began. the names Yaa/Aya, Yaw/Yao, Aya/Awo, Kwawo and Kwaw all represent the belief the Akans hold about God creating life on the 5th day.
This is the sixth day of creation and it was the day that the idea of a home for humans came to fruition. FI is the Akan word for home and DA is used for the day. Fiada which means ‘home day’ is used to reference the day KWA created the garden of Eden. It also symbolises God’s creation of the institution of marriage and the endorsement of the concept of two people finding each other.
Fully called Kwaofida, Fiada is an abridged version that translates to ‘Lord of Life’s home day’. So, an Afia or Kofi has the meaning of their name as ‘Lord of Life home’ a testament to God’s creation of ‘the home’.
This is the 7th day of the week and creation. Let’s see a breakdown of the word below;
ME- it means ‘I’ and it is God’s name often used to denote ‘satisfaction’ which means Memneda is the day of God’s satisfaction. In another interpretation, Mehomeda is regarded as God’s day of rest. Mene also means ‘I am’s day’
Essentially Memeneda is the day of God’s rest and the names Kwame/Ama denotes and commemorates the day God rested. This is why this day is separated as a day of rest, sabbath, a practice that has gone on for generations.
The African culture is a rich one that is full of exciting discoveries, slavery and colonisation has eroded half of the ancient knowledge held by our ancestors. By breaking down these words, we have an insight into the minds of the Ancient Akans and their philosophies and how they viewed creation and the Creator. Do you think you have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Akan culture? Please do go ahead and look at our majestic Akan Day Name Mug collections! We would sure love to hear from you!