The name is an essential component of the spiritual anatomy of the Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African) person. It confirms identity. Thus, from time immemorial Afurakanu/Afuraitkaitnut (Africans) have taught, with respect to the sacredness of the name,
The name is a group of sounds---sounds/vibrations grouped together in a unique way. Power from the sounds/vibrations of a properly given name moves throughout the spirit of the Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African) person when heard or spoken. The spirit responds to this power, stirring within the person an awareness of their unique purpose in life and of the potential they possess to carry out that purpose. As the purpose of one's life is given to him or her by The Supreme Being before birth, we recognize our unique purpose, our destiny in Creation, to be a divine purpose, a divine destiny. We define our purpose, our destiny, as the divinefunction we are to execute in this world. Thus the name, the power-carrying indicator of our divine function, has always been and continues to be most sacred to us. When heard or spoken, it aligns us with our Divine nature. It is within this context that the naming ceremonies of Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African) people must be viewed. The den to (naming ceremony) of the Akan people of West Afuraka/Afuraitkait (Africa) is expressive of these principles. In the Twi language of the Akan people, den means ‘name’ and to or toa means ‘to adjoin’. One interpretation of the den to is thus, the process through which the name is ritually joined to the spirit of the child."Truly, without a name the Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African) human does not exist."
The Akan (Ah-khan’) people live primarily in the region of West Afuraka/Afuraitkait (Africa) which includes the countries of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, and Burkina Faso. While the Akan represent the largest biological-cultural (ethnic) group inside of Ghana and Ivory Coast, they also exist in smaller percentages in the countries of Togo and Burkina Faso. The ancestry of the Akan is an ancient ancestry stretching back to the ancient Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African/Black) civilizations of Keneset (ancient Kush/Nubia/Ethiopia), Kamit (ancient Egypt) and beyond. For thousands of years up to this day, the Akan have preserved their culture, a culture which has survived various challenges including forced migrations and the enslavement period. In fact, it is estimated that the largest percentage of Afurakanu/Afuraitkaitnut (Africans) brought to english-speaking colonies during the enslavement period were from the Akan grouping. This fact speaks to the phenomenon of great and growing interest that many Afurakanu/Afuraitkaitnut (Africans) in the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe have in Akan culture and symbolism today. It is the re-awakening and embrace of our Ancestral consciousness.
After an Akan baby is born he or she is kept indoors for eight days. The eighth day is the day of the naming ceremony, den to. The first name received is called the kra den or "soul name", and is determined by the day of the week that the child was born. This is because Nyame (oun’-yah-may’) and Nyamewaa (oun’-yah-may’-wah), the Great God and the Great Goddess respectively, Whom Together constitute the Supreme Being in Akan culture, placed seven of Their Children over the seven days of the week. The Children of The Supreme Being are the Goddesses and Gods, the Spirit-Forces operating throughout Nature and all of Creation. In Akan culture They are called Abosom (Divinities/Deities; singular: Obosom). The various Abosom carry different spiritual qualities of their Parents, the Mother-Father Supreme Being (Nyamewaa-Nyame). This reality impacts the newborn, because the names of the days of the week in Akan culture indicate which Obosom, which Spiritual Force, governs that particular day and therefore which spiritual qualities of the Great Father, Nyame (God), and the Great Mother, Nyamewaa (Goddess) are transferred to and carried by the kra (okra) or “soul” of the child born upon that day.Den to
The chart below includes: the names of the days of the week in Akan culture; the Abosom (Deities) Who govern the different days and the corresponding celestial bodies through whom They operate; the major praise-names and spiritual/character attributes related to the Obosom of the day---which are also transmitted to the soul of the person; the male and female akraden (“soul names”, singular: kraden) for each day.
All females and males in Akan civilization receive their kraden according to the day of the week they are born into the world. [‘da’ means ‘day’, hence Benada is a name defining the particular day as being the God ‘Bena’s day’; Yawda is ‘Yaw’s day’, etc.]
Day of the Week
Celestial body governed by the Deity
Spirit - Character
Awusi or Asi
Born Leader, Guide, Protector
Kwesi, Kwasi, Akwesi
Akosua, Akousia, Esi
Kwadwo, Kwodwo, Kojo
Fierce; Ogyam: compassionate
Aku or Wuku
Ntoni: Advocate, Controlling
Kweku, Kwaku, Aku
Akua, Ekua, Aquia, Akwia
Yaw or Awuo
Yaw, Yao, Yawu, Kwaw, Kwao
Okyin: Adventurous, creative, innovative
Afua, Afia, Efua
Amen or Amen-Men
Otenankaduro: Master of the Serpent’s antidote; the Ancient wise one
Amma, Ama, Amba, Ame
In the various names 'a' is pronounced like the 'a' in "father"; 'e' as in "bet"; 'i' like the 'ee' in "beet"; 'o' as in "no"; 'u' like the 'oo' in "boot".
The kraden greatly affects the spirit of the Akan female and male, for it carries the power which works to align the spirit of the individual with her/his Divine qualities. This is one reason why the den to is performed on the eighth day. For example, if a child is born on Akwesida (Sunday) then the den to is performed eight days later on the following Akwesida. In this manner, the Obosom of that particular day, Awusi, (Awusir/Ausar in ancient Keneset and Kamit) lends Its Energy and Consciousness to the proceedings.
The child also receives its formal name or good/ideal name, ‘den pa’, on the eighth day. The formal name further defines the function of the child in the world as it relates to his or her specific Ancestral Clan and his or her potential for manifesting wisdom and influence. The den pa carries the vibrations that will empower the individual to properly incorporate Divine Law and restore Divine balance throughout his or her life according to Ancestral protocol.
The naming ceremony begins and ends before sunrise. It is the father that has the responsibility of naming the child, thus the family comes together in the early morning at the father's house. The Elders invoke Nyame (God), Nyamewaa (Goddess), and pour libation to Asaase Afua (Earth Mother/Goddess also called Asaase Yaa) the Abosom (Divinities, Forces of Nature) and the Nananom Nsamanfo (Honored Ancestral Spirits) to assist with the proper naming of the child. Amongst Akan people in the Americas, oracular divination is often an essential part of this process. After the name is acquired, the infant is given to an Elder from the father's side of the family who announces the kraden and den pa to the family for the first time.
There are two cups ritually utilized during the ceremony. One cup contains water and the other nsa (strong drink). The Elder dips his index finger into the water and places it on the mouth of the infant saying, "When you say it is water, it is water." He dips his index finger into the nsa and places it on the mouth of the infant saying, "When you say it is nsa, it is nsa." This is repeated three times. This is done to instill within the infant a consciousness of morality--the necessity of always living in harmony with the truth for all of her/his life. Whether the consequences of truthfulness leave a pleasant taste in your mouth (water) or a difficult taste in your mouth (nsa), truthfulness nevertheless must be upheld. The remainder of the water and nsa in the two cups is then mixed together and given to the parents, that they may participate in the ritual in unity with their child. The parents are here confirming the importance of the moral lesson taught to the child and at the same time vowing to reinforce this lesson throughout the life of the child. The stability of the family is directly related to the stability of the community, and the parents are making their vow before Nyame (God), Nyamewaa (Goddess), Asaase Afua (Earth Mother), the Abosom (Divinities/Goddesses and Gods), the Nananom Nsamanfo (Honored Ancestresses and Ancestors) and the family.
The time has come for gifts to be presented to the newborn, after which the remainder of the nsa in the bottle is shared with members of the community. The full name of the newborn is spoken to each member of the community, and each member sips some of the nsa as a show of respect for the child and as a corporate gesture towards the newborn's health. A meal is then shared by all.
As Akanfo (Akan people), we recognize the name to be intimately expressive of the function for which Nyamewaa-Nyame (Goddess-God, the Supreme Being) has conceived and fashioned us and Asaase Afua (Earth Mother) has borne us. This is precisely why during the periods of enslavement and colonialization our Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African) names were and continue to be replaced with the foreign names/labels of our absolute enemies, the whites and their offspring. These perverse names/labels are totally devoid of power and consciousness, and are directly antagonistic to our spiritual development and endeavor.
It is time, and of necessity, that we Afurakanu/Afuraitkaitnut (Africans), within and without the continent of Afuraka/Afuraitkait (Africa), return to our true names. It is an Ancestral mandate, for our proper functioning in Creation is dependent on it.
Bra nkwa mu.
© Copyright, 13,004 (2004) Kwesi Ra Nehem Ptah Akhan.