Basic Similarities between Ancient Egyptians/Others and the Akan People


As Gardiner explains of ancient Egypt, “Among officials whose duty it was to look after the king’s own person there were sandal bearers, keepers of the robes and crowns, barbers, and physicians, the last sometimes highly specialized like oculists, stomach doctors, and the like. A host of servants were employed in kitchen and dining-room, and there were also domestics of a somewhat higher grade who kept order at the royal meals.” Similar to the protocol of modern-day Akan kingship, an ancient Egyptian fan-bearer always stood at the right-hand side of a sitting monarch. Davidson also describes a part of the king’s palace in Gao that sheltered “women, concubines, slaves, and eunuchs charged with watching over these women.” The Akan royal palace of centuries’ past had similar setups.

Ibn Battuta, in describing the pomp and pageantry associated with the royal audience of a 14th-century Mali sultan, says, “He ascended to a platform carpeted with silk and sheltered from the blazing sun by a large umbrella, which is a sort of pavilion made of silk, surmounted by a bird fashioned in gold about the size of a falcon. His progress to this platform was leisurely, and he mounted it in the sedate manner of a preacher ascending the pulpit of a mosque, while drums beat and bugles sounded.” The process described herewith is seen in contemporary Akan royal structures such as when the Asantehene (king of Asante) or Okyenhene (king of Akyem) is enroute to a public function at the public space where the king sits to receive homage from subjects in Kumasi or Kyebi.

In the “Preface to the Phoenix Edition” of Frankfort’s Kingship and the Gods, Samuel Noah Kramer says about ancient Egypt, “As a god, the king of Egypt had absolute power over the land and its people, yet he could not act arbitrarily and capriciously but only in accordance with Maat, ‘right order.’” Elsewhere Kramer continues, “The king’s death was a critical event in the life of all Egyptians, since it indicated that the powers of chaos and evil had the upper hand in the land, at least till the accession and coronation of the new king.”

Frankfort describes how, at the Sed Festival of the ancient Egyptians, “the king, enthroned, receives pledges of loyalty, then, again, he descends from the throne, and heading processions whose composition varies according to tradition, goes to pay homage to a god or goddess in the Court of the Great Ones.” This process is reminiscent of current Akan practices where, after the king greets his subjects, they in turn reaffirm their loyalty to the kingship; the king later adjourns to the Stool Room to pay homage to past kings. Remnants of the Egyptian Sed Festival are showcased in several Akan festivals such as Addae, Ohum, and Odwira.

Ritual mock fights at festivals were enacted at ancient Egyptian festivals as at Akan festivals of old between an Omanhene, paramount king, and Krontihene, traditional “owner” of the town. In fact, such an annual ritual fight was religiously enacted in Takyiman. A mock fight is also enacted during the Apafram or Odwira Festival in Akwamufie.

Ancient Egyptians believed that the gods communicated with man through various mediums and also believed in the trinity of the ancestors, those alive in the present, and the yet-to-be-born descendants. They appropriated gods as needed, and a god could assume the form of any object, such as a cow. When that happened, it was still the god that was worshiped, not the depicted animal. That the Akan had striking similarities with ancient Egypt is without doubt and extends beyond culture. Gardiner tells us of throne usurpation circa 950 B.C. by some “alien race” whose ancestors had

previously invaded and ruled Egypt. He writes, “But they are not to be regarded as fresh invaders; the most plausible theory is that they were the descendants of captured prisoners or voluntary settlers who, like the Sherden, had been granted land of their own on condition of their obligation to provide military service.” Today, examples abound in Akan cultures where descendants of slaves and of persons who were subject to other forms of servitude who have usurped power and mounted thrones. As a result, royal litigations persist in some contemporary cultures in Akan and elsewhere in Ghana.

There is enough evidence to prove that the culture of ancient Egypt developed out from the eastern part of Africa, after which further migrations sent some to western Africa and beyond. Seligman, however, postulates that it was not necessarily ancient Egyptian culture that reached West Africa, but possibly shared old Hamitic (that is, from the seed of Ham) beliefs that traveled from the east. Seligman may be right generally, but the influence of some ancient Egyptian cultures such as kingship and libation are more pronounced on the Akans. A summary of some similarities among Ancient Egypt, Abyssinia, and Akan is given below, drawing from an 1821 monograph by T.E. Bowdich, who had extensive knowledge of the three groups.

From the book “The Akan of Ghana. Aspects of Past & Present Practices” by Kofi Ayim (Published 2015)

The author is the editor of Amandla

Available @

Posted by on Oct 16 2020. Filed under Artcultainment. 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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