Akan is the largest ethnic group in Ghana. They predominantly inhabit the Ashanti, Eastern, Central, and a portion of the Western regions. The Akan people have an interesting and rich cultural heritage which is a product of a combination of their language, music, dance, art, and traditional beliefs.
The Akan people are recognized for their gold workmanship and were one of the major gold-producing areas in Africa during the pre-colonial era. Also, they have a long history as good farmers and merchants.
Matrilineal inheritance is one of the most prominent cultural customs among the Akan people. This indicates that property is inherited through the mother’s line rather than the father’s. Also, the Akan people celebrate other traditional festivals throughout the year, such as Adae Kese, which is held every 42 days to honor ancestors.
The Akan language has a number of dialects, notably Asante Twi, which is widely spoken in Ghana due to its frequent use on radio and television.
The Akan people have made enormous contributions to Ghanaian society and continue to shape Ghana’s cultural identity.
Akan is not just the largest and most wide-spread groupin Ghana but also in Cote d’Ivoire. It is believed that the roots of the community are from the Sahel region and the Savannah.
The Akan people or community consists of different groups all of which have traced a common origin. The community is believed to be as old as the Congo forest. Some of the prominent personalities who are members of the group include the great Kwame Nkrumah, Kofi Annan, Mario Balotelli, John Atta Mills, Idris Elba, Jerome Boateng among many others. If you would like to know a few more things about the Akan people then the following is a brief history of their language, religion, and political organization.
The Language of the Akan People
Most Akan people speak the Twi Fante. Others speak the Bia language. The majority of the Twi speaking communities include people from the Akuapem, Asante, and the Akyem. The Bia language is spoken by groups that include Agon, Kwahu, Wassa, and the Fante. An average Akan person speaks English.
The average population of Akan people is estimated to be about 20 million. It is one of the west African tribes or group of people that have maintained their indigenous languages and which has not been influenced so much by the West.
Religion and Social Organization
The Akan’s are very religious people. Most of the contemporary ones are Christians. Even though they are surrounded by other religions like Islam, the majority still maintain their Christian faith. Initially, the Akans were organized into a small kingdom called Bonoman. They also engaged in various trading activities like slavery and gold mining to keep their families. This brought them a lot of wealth. Most Akans still live in an extended system of family.
Political Organization of The Akan People of West Africa
Politically, the Akans are organized into a group of several extended families headed by a council of elders. The council of elders is elected by the members of the extended family. All the property and power is bound within the matrilineal system. This means that all the important decisions are done within the political unit. The land is managed by the lineage and all the land disputes are settled within the matrilineal system. Marriage within the system is forbidden and the marital restrictions are highly observed and respected.
There are also certain benefits which Akans derive from their respective matrilineal line. For instance, the surname can be inherited depending on the Ntoro. Ntoro is simply what is reserved by the matrilineal line for an Akan. They, however, do not totally disregard the patriarchal system. Inheritance rights are basically vested in the male, but when there are no more male heirs, it is then extended to the female. They have a centralized political system that is unique even among its neighboring communities.
Economic Activities of the Akan People
Initially, the Akan people mostly were engaged in the slave trade and thus were a major key player in the transatlantic trade which was highly based on slavery. However, they later engaged in gold mining which became a lucrative business and a major economic activity among them. In present times, the Akan people now engage in farming activities for their day-to-day livelihood. Some have even diverged into the international business world. Others have moved into the urban areas to engage in different activities and work in the industries. Those who remained in the village areas are also engaged in activities like gold mining and cocoa farming.
Akan people have a very distinct culture which has remained despite modernization, globalization, and urbanization. Their culture is unique with varied symbols and meanings.