New Book on Akan points to ancient Egyptian connections

by Ben Alexander

Sporting bright kente cloth of the same design as shown on the front cover of his book, author Kofi Ayim spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon at Newark’s Priory discussing “The Akan of Ghana” with an eager and receptive audience. In the course of his presentation Ayim urged attendees to know their cultural heritage, claim their own history, record their grandparents, and of course buy his book. He spent the last half-hour signing copies, while elsewhere in the room guests enjoyed bountiful fruit, cheese, crackers, and wine.Kwame Akonor, professor of political science at Seton Hall University who has written extensively about African topics, welcomed the guests. He noted that this is Ayim’s second book, following his biography of Akan-descended Revolutionary War soldier and Newark businessman Jack Cudjo, and observing that his new book presents a fascinating argument on the connection between the Akan and the ancient Egyptians.
Akonor introduced Ms. Lorna Johnson, Principal, Global Linkages, Inc. a well known figure in the African community within the Greater Newark Area. Ms. Johnson in turn introduced Kofi Ayim. She referred to Ayim as a bridge builder and praised him for remaining true to his African roots, as well as for showing how African culture and the slave trade affected local Newark history in Jack Cudjo. She stressed the importance of maintaining sense of culture—not just the general idea of African culture, but also the specifics of Ghanaian culture, Akan culture, Ga culture, and so forth. Taking the podium, Ayim returned the compliment, paying honor to Johnson for her own commitments and contributions to cultural awareness. Ayim also credited numerous other persons whose support and expertise had contributed to the making of the book.
Before Ayim’s formal talk on his book even began, guests got to see three of its components demonstrated. First was Ayim’s bright kente outfit. Second, Ayim introduced master horn blower Baffour Akoto Ampofo, who rendered a ceremonial horn performance. Then came a libation, which Ayim explained is a form of prayer to the African god. Accompanied by Ampofo on the horn, Ayim showed the dropping of three drops of the drink from the bottle onto a clay surface below: one for the
living, one for the dead, and one for the yet to be born, a longstanding African trinity. Ayim performed this elaborate opening ceremony in the Twi language, which many native Akan speak. The Akan, he told his listeners, have too many similarities with other cultures—the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and Ethiopians, among others—to be coincidence, but rather, show considerable exchange of influence. So many names of pharaohs, for example, appear strikingly close to common Akan names. He gave as an example Pharoahic names such as Kufu, Khakeri, Aye, Kakai, Akhenaten with their Akan equivalents as Akuffo, Khakari, Aye, Kakai, and some common names of both ancient Egypt and the Akan such as Asar, (Asare), Anima, Tutu, Assa, and Mamfe. There is also, he added later on in the talk, a long list of terms, like those for earth and for motherhood, that are similar to those of ancient Egyptian. As he shows in his book, the similarities go far beyond language, extending to many customs and moral beliefs. Much African history, moreover can be traced to migrations of biblical figures and their descendants, chief among them the Kushites, descendants of Noah’s youngest son Ham.

He credited his pastor with explaining the history and culture of most biblical versus before preaching. The biblical Akan, said Ayim, was a descendant of the Edomites.
The Akan consist of eight superfamilies, with subdivisions within each. Ayim recalled, from his own growing up, that when a visitor enters a town or village, he goes first to the local king’s palace. The visitor is asked what family he belongs to, whereupon the king sends for a member of that family to receive the visitor, who is after all a brethren, albeit consangeneous. Ayim belongs to the Bretuo.
Ayim placed great emphasis in his presentation on the importance of reclaiming African history and cultures from erroneous interpretations put on them by European observers. Family relationships are often puzzling to outsiders, as with the fact that Akan do not have a single word for the concept of cousins. Both the Akan and the ancient Egyptians used the term “king’s son” as a title of merit rather than a literal description of lineage. He noted that the English scholar Sir Alan Gardiner, writing in the early 1960s, was puzzled by this phenomenon with the origins of a man called Amenhotpe, something that wouldnot have confused any African. Europeans have also, at times, mistakenly believed that Africans were making alcoholics of their infants by giving the tongue of the newborn a tiny taste of gin in the naming ceremony.
His talk was followed by a question and answer session. One man, desirous of teaching his children correctly, asked the presenter to explain the concept of nton. The Akan, Ayim explained, believe that the conception of a child comes with three elements: the trinity of blood, or mogya, which comes from the mother; spirit, or nton, which comes from the father; and okra, soul, which comes from God. But how is this best explained to the young? “If you read the book and you still don’t understand,” Ayim good-humoredly replied, “then call me.” Part of the traditional belief, he added, is that when we sleep the spirit can leave us and bad spirits can attack.
An audience member asked Ayim how he would respond to white critics who think his arguments, and those of others along the same lines, are far-fetched and invented. “No one is going to write your history accurately for you, if you don’t write it,” Ayim replied. Then he quoted from the recently published Bauval and Brophy book “Black Genesis”, which he also quotes in his own book: “Suffice it to say…that until very recently the very idea that an advanced black race from sub-Saharan Africa was at the source of the ancient Egyptian civilization, and perhaps even all civilization, was very disturbing to many western people…” He noted that those two scholars are white, so some of the boundaries of thought area already breaking down.
“If you don’t know who you are,” he said, referring the importance of learning about cultural heritage, “your pride is gone.” He added, “I’m not saying we should go back to live in the seventeenth century, but we need to know why we do things the way we do now.” And, he gave his audience an assignment of great import: “Grab a cassette, grab whatever—record your grandparents, because that generation is dying out, and if we don’t record something from them, then we have nothing to give the young generation.” Ayim said he is available for presentation to organized groups. The book is currently available at

Posted by on Apr 18 2015. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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