The Akan Day Names and Their Embedded Ancient Symbolism
Yaanom, Mema Mo Akwaaba, Mekyea Mo Nyinaa! I humbly welcome and greet you all. I know it’s been quite a while…I apologize…but don’t you worry though…I’m back again. I’m quite the perfectionist in writing and I simply refuse to deliver anything less than quality and exquisite work for my readers. Besides…my editorial advisers wouldn’t even allow me to :-). Will have to admit though… the break was good, but it’s even better to be back!
So with this article, I really had to take my time. Today, I would like to enrich your mind a bit more when it comes to the meaning of your day name. For all my Ghanaian readers out there, we all know that each and every single one of us carries a certain day name, depending on the day you were born of course. As I was researching, I asked my fellow Ghanaians what the different day names meant, and unfortunately nobody could give me more than the following answer “It’s just a day name”. I have always wondered and been curious as to know whether there is more to it than just the name itself. So as I felt it in my gut that there must be…it turned out that my gut was right! It’s actually quite sad to see just how much of our beautiful culture got lost through westernization, however I would be honored to give a little culture back to those who knew it and forgot and to those who never knew it at all. There is such a beautiful ancient symbolism embedded in our day names, so much so that finding the meaning of it touched me to my very core. We have such a rich culture and I will make it my duty to play my part in keeping it alive and accessible to everybody, one article at a time. Okay so let’s start cracking on this. I must tell you though… this will be quite extensive so do get comfortable because you are humbly invited to read this to the very end. And finally… The day names given to us as individuals and their personality characteristics are more like a generalization so it is perfectly possible that you may not necessarily fit into your “characteristic box”… Which in that case, only makes you perfectly imperfect in your own God-given unique way, which is nothing less than beautiful.
So before we actually get to the analysis of the day names, I should also tell you that there will be quite some Akan (Twi) linguistics (study of words / language) involved here so you may be able to understand the etymology of the vocabulary (origin of words). In addition to that, this will also be a spiritual journey so by all means do get a Bible, and no worries if you don’t have one nearby, I will write the verses up here for you. Now we’re ready for the journey through our history. So by all means, entrust me with your mind and allow me to slowly but surely guide you through the book of Genesis chapter 1 and 2. Okay so here we go!
Now before you can understand everything that you’re about to read, I need to give you the must-know basics before we proceed. As we all know, everything starts with our Father up in heaven so allow me to explain the meaning of His name. In Twi, we refer to our Father up in heaven as “ONYANKOPON”. This word is actually derived from the word “OIAMEKOPON”. Now every syllable of His name stands for something. The “O” refers to the basic name of God, it stands for universality and completeness. It also stands for a being who is capable of doing and achieving something. Examples are “Onipa”, “Otumfuo”and “Onyansafuo”. Then the second syllable which is “IA” transformed into “YA” over time. “YA” stands for a being with wisdom, example is “Agya” = father. Today we may also recognize “YA” as “NYA” as it stands for a being that possesses wisdom, this can be found in for example the word “Nyansa”. Then the next syllable is “ME” which stands for self-consciousness and satisfaction. For example after you’re done eating, in Twi you’d might say “Ma Men”. Same thing here, “ME” from “MEN” stands for satisfaction. Then “KO” means life. Examples of “KO” are “Kosua” or “Kosuya” which means egg and this can be broken down in pieces. “KO” = Life, “SU” = water (from nsuo), “YA” = Being with wisdom. This all means water-containing life being. On the opposite of that is “Koto” or crab. “KO” means life and “TO” means empty. Name is given because of crab’s empty nature. And finally, the last syllable of “ONYANKOPON” is “PON” which stands for the greatness and sovereignty of God.
Now God himself also has a day name, and this is “KWAME”. Now “KWAME” is actually derived from “KOYAME” with the following syllables KO-YA-ME. As stated before, “KO” refers to life. The second syllable of KO-YA-ME is “YA” and this stands for a being with wisdom and lastly “ME” stands for satisfaction. Over time, the 2 syllables “KO” & “YA” merged into 1 word “KWA” and this stands for “Father of Life, Wisdom”, “Life Being”, “The Creator”. So “KWA” is another basic name of God. This is the reason why all the male day names originally started with the prefix “KWA” but somehow with time, some got modified for convenience. “KWA” is a prefix that will continuously return, so it is highly relevant that you remember it, as it stands for The Creator, our Heavenly Father.
KWASIADA – SUNDAY (DAY 1): AKOSUA (FEMALE), KWASI, KWESI, AKWASI (MALE)
Genesis 1 : 1-5 (NIV) “1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
It’s believed and accepted that the universe was created within 7 days. In 6 days to be exact and rest day or Sabbath was the 7th day. The first day of the week also starts with Sunday and not Monday. This is important to remember as you keep reading. “KWASIADA” means the day on which the Creator descended to create the universe. “KWA” = The Creator, “SI” = to descend. For example in Twi you might say “M3 si wo ha”, this means I will get off here or descend here. So “SI” = descend and lastly “DA” = day. So our Creator had to descend first in order to create the heavens, the earth…and light.
Character wise, Sunday born women are simply outstanding, they see people and categorize people in 2 parts, black or white. If they like you then good, if they don’t… then they don’t. They don’t beat around the bush, very straightforward and principled women. They are fearless when it comes to saying what’s on their mind, such a beautiful virtue. Sometimes, they may appear to be rude and arrogant to some people and even authoritarian. However they are truly delightful to be around, faithful and at times even warm and fuzzy. Sunday born males have an awesome strong and vibrant personality with a good chunk of charisma most of the time. They are sensitive as well as altruistic. They are dreamers, which may lead them to be disillusioned sometimes. However, they have a sensitive side, which makes them very passionate in happy and unhappy times. Furthermore they are resilient and possess a lot of inner strength.
EDWOADA – MONDAY (DAY 2) : ADWOA, ADJOA (FEMALE), KWADWO, KUDJO (MALE)
Genesis 1 : 6-8 (NIV) “6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.”
“EDWOADA” or “DWOADA” is the 2nd day of creation, and it is on this day that our God created the skies or “EWIEM” as we call it in Twi. He created separation between the huge waters. Water below the sky is rather self-explanatory, we can observe oceans…the water above the sky however might be slightly tricky to grasp, water particles can be found in clouds, rain, fog and snow etc. Space between these waters was needed to create air. “EDWOADA” was originally “KWAWIWDA”, with the following syllables; “KWA” = Creator, “WI” = sky, “DA” = day. Today we refer to sky as “EWIEM” and this comes from “WI”. Over time “WI” became “DWO” which means cold, so cold skies.
Since I’m a Monday born, I can actually start by describing myself. According to literature, Adwoa’s enjoy life to the fullest, have an incredible zest for life, free-spirited and wish to be original in everything they do. They are also very maternal and feminine, and therefor like to take care of others. Apparently we can also be “slightly” intolerant, stubborn, dominant and jealous…if we want to be. But we can also be unapologetically frank and direct, persistant, open-minded, resilient and quite allergic to injustice. Kwado’s are a lot of fun. They are very magnetic and intensely dynamic. They are innovative, appear to be strong and very masculine. However under that layer is a sensitive heart. Kwado’s are leaders and do not do so well with insubordinate roles. Kwado’s care about others and are highly emotional as well, so much so that they may abruptly burst out their emotions. They enjoy the finer things in life and are very generous.
BENADA – TUESDAY (DAY 3): ABENA, ABINA (FEMALE), KWABENA, KOBINA (MALE)
Genesis 1 : 9-13 (NIV) “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.”
On the 3rd day, God created the dry lands. “BENADA” was originally called “KWABENADA”. Now this can be split up in the following syllables KWA-BE-NA-DA. Now “KWA” means our Creator, “BE” comes from “BEA” which means place, location or land. For example, we are more familiar with the expression “Meko Baebi/Babi” which means I’m going to this place or location. So this is also derived from the same syllable “BE” or “BEA”. And “DA” means day. So it is on this 3rd day that “KWA” = our Creator, made “BEA” = land/place. Hence Kwabena for males and Abena for females. Apparently this may be a reason why fishermen don’t go on sea on Tuesdays since it’s a Land’s day.
Abena’s are fiercely authoritarian people, very ambitious with quite a generous dose of confidence. They are not good at sitting still and are constantly looking for a better way to improve their way of life or any situation. So you could say they are very active and dynamic, which may lead to a messy and disorganized mind… however, they love change, so much so that it also makes them very inquisitive, they want to know everything, which is quite a good thing. Finally they have an extreme zest for life and are all up for liberation. Kwabena’s are also very authoritarian, bold and quite principled. In addition to that they are very active, dynamic, strong spirited and just super fun people. They appear to be fierce and fearless however underneath all that they harbor such a kind, pure and sensitive heart. They are impulsive which may lead to explosive reactions. Tuesday born males love people. They like bringing people together while at the same time being a strong believer of independence and freedom. Kwabena’s are also highly creative and intuitive. Finally in the love department, Kwabena’s are most happy when they are in a stable family unit. His home is his castle.
WUKUADA – WEDNESDAY (DAY 4): AKUA, EKUA (FEMALE), KWAKU, KWEKU (MALE)
Genesis 1:14-19 (NIV) “14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”
Now I know this may be slightly contradictory as to say…how come there was light on day 1 when the sun was only created on day 4…well we have to take into account that God is Omnipotent, and He Himself “is” Light as we read here in 1 John 1 : 5 “5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” So the 4th day, “WUKUADA” originally comes from “KWAYUKUWDA” or “KWAWIKUWDA”. The “YU” and “WI” stands for skies and heavens just like we saw on Monday. And “KU” means society, host or group. For example in the expression “Mmaa Kuo”, which means women’s fellowship, the syllable “KU” stands for group/society. So if we analyze “KWAYUKUWDA” then we get “KWA” = the Creator, “YU/WI” = heavens, “KU” = hosts, “DA” = day. So it is on this day that God created the heavenly hosts we know today as our moon, sun and stars.
Akua’s are cool and collected people. So much so that sometimes they may even appear to be emotionless. But behind that façade lies an emotional heart. They know what they want and what they need and hence do not waste their time on people that are simply not worthy of it. They have amazing self-control and do not show off their vulnerability easily. Akua’s are rational, logic, hardworking and perhaps even perfectionists at times. Kwaku’s love simplicity, are quite romantic and traditional at the same time. They also tend to be very cautious and hypersensitive. Sometimes it may appear as though they may lack confidence which can easily translate into insecurity. Apparently, emotionally they mature a bit slower than the rest… however once they do get to that point, they can be quite the awesome fathers and husbands. Takes a bit more work (according to literature…don’t shoot the messenger lol) but they are without a doubt, very much worth the hassle!
YAWOADA – THURSDAY (DAY 5): YAA (FEMALE), YAW (MALE)
Gen.1:20-23 (NIV) 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
The 5th day is called “YAWOADA”. Now “YAWOADA” originates from “KOYAWODA” . “KO” stands for life, “YA” stands for a being and “WO” means reproduction. For example in Twi you could say “Wa Wo” meaning she gave birth. So all in all, this means it’s reproduction day. It is the day that God created the living beings and ordered them to be fruitful, to reproduce and to fill the earth in the sea as well as on land.
Yaa’s are very pleasant to be around, quite charming and very attractive. They find it quite amusing to please and entertain others. They love life tremendously. They are capable of communicating with much ease, that is diplomatically when need be and with humor if it fits. Yaa’s tend to be hypersensitive as well but all in all they are social beings. On top of that, they are filled with a tremendous dose of courage, they are fair and just people, they do not entertain nonsense and injustice, and will hence always fight for what’s right, like the awesome Yaa Asantewaa! Thursday born males, Yaw’s are highly sociable, confident and easy-going people. They have a big heart and they are also blessed with a good dose of charisma. It also appears that these men are quite eloquent and gifted in the art of speech. Talent of persuasion is like second nature to them. They are bright and very good at blending in. Their flaw is that they may be easily distracted and hence not see things through till the very end. Sometimes lack of commitment may come across as overconfidence…but all the same, Yaw’s are dreamers, enjoy the simple things in life and are super fun.
FIADA – FRIDAY (DAY 6): AFUA, EFUA, AFIA (FEMALE), KOFI, FIIFI (MALE)
Genesis 1”24-31 (NIV)“24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, [a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”
Day 6 or “FIADA” comes from “KWAOFIDA”. Now this can be split up in the following syllables “KWA”, “OFI” and “DA”. Now “KWA” means Creator, “OFI” means home which we know today as “EFIE” and “DA” means day. On this day, God created the first home, namely the “Garden of Eden” for man and woman. This also symbolizes coupled life. The first day man and woman lived together in one home.
Now Afua’s are highly vibrant, hardworking, patient and have an enormous zest for life. They are disciplined when they need to be and are also quite intelligent. Besides all that, they may also be hard-headed, single minded and slightly stubborn. Furthermore they are highly trustworthy, loyal and dependable. Kofi’s are men with great ideals and ambitions. They have absolutely no limits when it comes to thinking big and having great ideas. On the other hand, they are also hard to follow and to figure out. Their interests are in the mysticism of things, strangeness and weirdness of stuff and are therefore easily drawn to spirituality, psychology, politics, archeology etc.
MEMENEDA – SATURDAY (DAY 7): AMA (FEMALE), KWAME (MALE)
Genesis 2:1-3 (NIV)” Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
The 7th day also known as “MEMENEDA” is what we know as the rest day, Sabbath day. “MEMENEDA” which was originally “KWAMEMENEDA” can be split up in KWA-ME-MENE-DA. We established earlier that “KWA” means Creator, “ME” comes from “MEN” which means satisfaction. And “Me Ne” in Akan (Twi) means “I am”. For example you might say “Me Ne Ama/Kwame”, this would actually mean “I am Ama/Kwame”. So the Creator who was, is and always will be, was satisfied on day 7, and made it a Holy day.
The females born on Saturday are very humane and super intuitive. They are all up for solidarity and are very drawn into helping others. With this, they strive to advocate for the less privileged in order to form a better world. They may be very selfless and they don’t mind building castles in the sky. With that being said, because of their high expectations and ideals, they may be poorly adapted to everyday reality. But other than that…they are adorable and very endearing. Saturday born males are very direct and straightforward. At times they may even appear to be cocky and arrogant, but they really aren’t…they just happen to know what they want and don’t want to stand for. They take pride in good appearance, and often wear a smile to go with it. They are very hardworking and ambitious. However when they are criticized they may appear ego-bruised and perhaps even wrathful. They are traditional, principled, disciplined and courageous.
Well my gorgeous readers… if you’re still with me… then well done! We just went through 7 days and their derivative 14 male and female names. It was quite interesting to write and to re-read this. Let me know where you guys fit in, whether you can find yourself in one of these descriptions and what your thoughts are. Would love to read those. I’d like to thank the staff of “Creo Concepts” who are the creative animators of the awesome female illustrations. Do look for them to find out the last official “Akosua” illustration to be published Sunday 21st Feb. Don’t you worry Sunday Sweethearts, I’m sure they kept the best for last because you guys are just that awesome :-). And of course Peter Poka Asamoah from “Poka Arts”, the talented animator of the male illustrations. You can find both animating companies under the name “Creo Concepts”, “Ghanaba” and “Poka Arts” on facebook and instagram. And last but surely not least, a huge thank you to the people around me who keep raising the bar higher for me than I would have initially placed it. Inspiring me to be the very best version of myself… and for that, I truly appreciate it… Meda Moase xoxo.
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