Akan religion comprises the traditional beliefs and religious practices of the Akan people of Ghana and eastern Ivory Coast. Akan religion is referred to as Akom (from the word akom, meaning “prophecy”).
Followers of Akan spirituality believe in a supreme god who created the universe. He is distant and does not interact with humans.
The supreme creator is an omniscient, omnipotent sky father. His wife is Asase Yaa (also known as Mother Earth), considered second to God. Together they brought forth two children: Bia and Tano.
Task: What do the words omniscient and omnipotent mean?
The abosom, the lower deities or spirits, assist humans on earth. These are akin to orishas in Yoruba religion, the vodun in West African Vodun and its derivatives, and the alusi in Odinani. Abosom receive their power from the creator god and are most often connected to the world as it appears in its natural state. Priests serve individual abosom and act as mediators between the abosom and mankind. Many of those who believe in these traditions participate in daily prayer, which includes the pouring of libations as an offering to both the ancestors who are buried under the land and to the spirits who are everywhere.
Anansi is an Akan folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is sometimes considered to be a god of all knowledge of stories. Taking the role of trickster, he is also one of the most important characters of West African, African American and Caribbean folklore. Originating in West Africa, these spider tales were transmitted to the Caribbean by way of the transatlantic slave trade. Anansi is most well known for his ability to outsmart and triumph over more powerful opponents through his use of cunning, creativity and wit. Despite taking on the role of the trickster, Anansi’s actions and parables often carry him as protagonist due to his ability to transform his apparent weaknesses into virtues.
Task: Watch the video. Why do you think these stories about Anansi were created and passed on to children and through generations?
Task: Read the story here or watch the video of the story below. Then, answer the questions.
- Why did Anansi decide not to wait at Rabbit’s house until the greens were done cooking?
- How did Anansi save himself from being pulled into pieces?
- What is the moral of this story?
The stories about Anansi are called fables.
Generally, fables are short stories. To use the genre of fable, an author:
- Develops a simple but familiar situation
- Includes some sort of conflict that could occur in every day life
- Follows with a relevant lesson to be learned.
Remember that the two key elements of a fable are:
- A moral, usually directly revealed at the end of the story.
- Some (or all) human characters are replaced by anthropomorphized animals, plants, elements of nature (like weather), or other normally inanimate objects. This key feature turns an everyday lesson into a story that encompasses a lesson, which makes a fablea memorable, interesting, and lasting way to deliver and share information.
Task: Write your own fable. You need to think of a message you would like to shared, such as to be kind to others, and include it in a story.