Did Akhenaten Influence the people that became the Akan?

Two interesting points usually glossed over need mention here. In Akan tradition, the Creator is

known by the epithet Onyankopon Kwame (God of Saturday), because the Akan believe God’s day is Saturday. In traditional prayers, the first entity to be called is Onyankopon Twereduampong Kwame (Dependable Almighty God of Saturday). Other accolades and appellations of God include Odom-Ankoma or Odomankoma (omnipotence), Borebore (divine sculptor), etc.

In response to greetings, a Saturday- born person when greeted should respond “Yaa amen” (the response to the God of Saturday). The god Amen (the Zeus of Greece and the Jupiter of Rome) was originally of the Ethiopian Kushite religion. Thus, Onyankopon’s spirit was Amen. According to Gerald Massey, the word “amen” was used by ancient Egyptians as a call to come or a reference to “the coming one.”

It must be remembered that the popularity and prominence of Amen peaked during the New Kingdom. The response to greetings of an Akan born on a Saturday further proves the corre- lation of the God of Saturday to Amen. Moreover, the appellation for one born on a Saturday is Atoapoma, woto no a na woapem, “there is nothing beyond God.” Atoapoma is also the shooter of a stick in the form of a ray to animate the soul of the child upon birth. It is Nyame, incarnated as the moon, that shoots the ray and therefore assumes the title Atoapoma. Consequently, Nyame’s appellation is also Amen.

Akhenaten (1352-1338 BCE), son of Amenhotep III, introduced the belief in only one god called Aten, god of the sun. According to Osman, the Aten name dated from the 12th Dynasty, especially during the reign of Thutmosis IV who made Joseph (born in 1564, died 1454 B.C.) prime minister of Egypt in 1534 B.C. at age 30 (according to Greenberg). A son of Thuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III built a temple in Nubia for the Aten god, imaged in the visible celestial solar disk. Aten, like the present-day Akan god Nyame but unlike other Egyptian gods, had no image of representa­tion. This cosmic god, like the biblical Yahweh, became the one and jealous god of Egypt. Ahmed Osman tells us that Aten was also introduced in the southern part of Kush (i.e., Nubia, the Land of the Kush) as well as in northern Syria.

The name Akhenaten, according to Sir Petrie, means “the glory of Aten.” The word Aten is used in the Twi language to mean “judgment” because he, the only one god, can judge. There is no doubt whatsoever that the ancestors of the present-day Akan were familiar with the Theban gods of Amen and Aten in Upper Egypt.

An earlier group from the Memphite era was also probably familiar with the Osirian sun god under Pharaoh Kufu. It must be noted that the original Egyptian name of Memphis was Mamfe–from Men-nefer. Mamfe is also the name of a town in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Near Mamfe, in Akropong, was an earlier king named Akuffo whose name was derived from the great Egyptian Kufu, son of Snefru and Hetep-Heres.

As remarked elsewhere the Asante also have a horn called Aten-te-ben, “Aten’s (hearing) horn.” The Hebraic word for the Egyptian Aten is Adon, “Lord,” a contraction form of Adonai.  Massey tells us that Aten = Adon= Adonai. Adona in Twi is a good-natured or merciful person*.  Thus, Adon and Aten are one and the same in different cultures. Adonten, an Akan name is formed from Adon and Aten, Adon’ten.

The Akan name Akenten was probably derived from Akhenaten.  Names such as Gya-aten,

Bo-aten, Kwa-aten, Kyerem-aten, Amo-aten, Aken’ten, Asubon’ten,Mampon’aten, Nyan’ten, Da-aten, Koran-aten etc may in one way or the other associated with Aten.

It should be noted here, though, that the Akan Onyankopon has no shrine because He is deemed invisible. And because He cannot be seen physically, he has no ritual or celebrated days, no altar, no priests, and therefore no rites. To go a step further, the Akan gave every white man the soul name of Kwasi because the white man was known to worship his god on Sunday.

Another point worth noting is the god Amma, of the Dogon civilization of present-day Mali. (The Dogon had a deep knowledge of the Sirius, or what the Egyptians called Shopdu, and could chart the course of the bright star with the naked eye.) In Akan, Amma is a female born on Saturday and therefore has the same appellation as Kwame.

The Dogon Amma, the goddess of water and rain, was, according to Laird Scranton a self-created one true goddess, with similar attributes to the Egyptian god Amen. Amen was a god of Egypt and Amma was a goddess of the Mandingo. The response to greetings of Amma, a Saturday-born female in Akan, is Amen (see chart in Chapter 2 for responses to greetings). She also had a son, Nummo. In fact, Amma was known in the Nile Valley as Amon or Amon-Ra.

The author, Kofi Ayim, is the editor of Amandla. Published in 2015

* see footnotes for more explanations

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