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Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, Auditorium No cost

Presenter: Yaw Asare, PhD Student, Department of African Studies

Seminar Chair: Dr. Mario Beatty, Associate Professor, Afro-American Studies

Time: April 4th, 2024; 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT
Venue: Ralph Bunche Auditorium, Howard University



Adinkra are visual motifs with verbal complements. Although information surrounding its genesis varies, these motifs, aesthetically sound and inherently profound have been an integral
part of Akan writing and visual culture. Each Adinkra walks with a proverbial complement in the
Akan language, Twi. These proverbs have been translated into other languages, particularly
English to allow for comprehension by those who may not understand Twi.

A tyranny however is sometimes presented as the translations distort and many times gradually
usurp the Twi proverbs and meanings associated with the symbols over time. In this presentation, I examine the Adinkra known popularly as Gye Nyame. I present this Adinkra analyzing its complementary proverb to show a cosmological thought amongst the Akan peoples. Relating this to the BaKongo visual cosmogram dikenga, this deep thought goes on to further elucidate an Akan conception of time: a cyclical transformational process whose beginning and end is unknown. Moreover, the Gye Nyame adinkra allows us to probe into the Akan concept of the all-pervasive force Nyame. In many instances, Afrikan concepts are equated to Eurasian concepts which unfortunately contribute to the reduction and distortion at best, a cancerous mutation or an erasure at worst of our profound thought. In this case, Nyame is often equated to the Eurasian concept of ‘God’.

The Gye Nyame adinkra brings to the fore the Akan conceptualization of Nyame which when put in its rightful Afrikan context and analyzed will be shown here to point to ‘The Totality of Creation’. Here, I argue it is important to probe indigenous knowledge with indigenous languages. The implications of equating our thoughts blindly to foreign concepts will also be discussed.

This discussion will be grounded in the theoretical framework of conceptual mimicry which I borrow from the plant and animal world to explain this phenomena. 


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