Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Akan Naming Practice - Soul Names

The Akan people are the largest ethnic group in both Ghana and Ivory Coast with a population of approximately 20 million among their various subgroups. Many Akan people believe the day they are born determine's their soul, therefore they often name their children with their 'soul names' - names based on the day of the week they are born. 

For example, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (of Akan descent, born in Ghana) was born on a Friday - Kofi being the soul name for males born on Fridays. Ghana's first president as an independent state, Kwame Nkrumah, was born on a Saturday - Kwame being the soul name for males born on Saturdays. If siblings are born on the same day, a soul name may not be used, or they are "numbered". If two sisters were born on a Friday, the eldest would be 'Afua', and the younger would be 'Afua Manu' ("the second" Afua).

You can read more about Akan naming ceremonies here.


To determine what day of the week you were born, use the tool found here You can read the characteristics ascribed to each soul day here.

From left to right, our Akan names are:
Amma, Kwadwo, Akua Manu, & Akua
Do you like your Soul Name?

4 comments:

  1. OK, that's kinda cool. I wonder if it's happening less often now than it used to be. For instance, one of my friends grew up in Latvia and they'd have "name days," so everyone who was named "Evija" celebrated their birthday on March 2 (making up date), and the radio would read out the name day, and so if your name was for that day everyone would wish you happy birthday on that day.

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    1. I don't know if it's happening less now, though I tend to think it would - as with so many other traditional customs around the world. In Greece they celebrate name days as well rather than birthdays, based on day's patron saint - I wonder how many other countries in the area share that practice.

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  2. Hi Amma. Let me introduce myself, I'm Abena, and was born on a Tuesday!

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    Replies
    1. So nice to meet you Abena! So you are the problem solver and planner of your family :)

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