Expropriation of Ghana's Adinkra Symbols by Nigerians

Some of the outfits by Slymonay. Source:@sprinklesofGh on twitter
One will recall the days of “Agro” on GTV which constantly educated Ghanaians on these symbols and its import in our cultural identity. The Adinkra symbols are embed in the Ashanti cultural heritage and define Ghanaians as a people.


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Adinkra symbols from the Akan culture Source: http://adinkra.org/htmls/adinkra/nkyi.htm

Adinkra Symbols origin

Although it may not be common among all Ghanaian ethnic groups or culture but to Ashantis, these symbols wield much clout in the interpretation of reality and the representation of history. This is equally a form of identity as the Mamprusi, Mowsi, Kusasi, Fante and Ewe languages or the Fufu, Akple and Kenkey or Kpalogo, Boborbor or any other form of culture is used in defining the Ghanaian people.

Gye Nyame and Dwannini mm3n

These to the world, are Ghanaian cultures which is the important aspects of culture. Several international journals and websites have already given the credit to Ghana and that is why an online catalogue dedicated to educating the public on Adinkra symbols dates it to Ghana.

Wikipedia, New York Times, Independents as well as others link Adinkra symbols to Ghana. The Wikipedia clarifies “Adinkra are used extensively in fabrics and pottery among the Ashantis of the Ashanti Kingdom and the boules who historically migrated from Ghana”.

The online catalogue also make reference to its Ghanaian origin. Names such as Gye Nyame, Nkonsonsonson, Nkyimkyim, Sankofa, Ananse ntontan, Fihankra, fawohodie, Denkyem etc. used as name of these symbols are from the Twi language which is also Ghanaian.

Marvels popular movie, Black Panther’s which projected different African cultures featured Adinkra symbols as well. 

This was in reference to the silver Adinkra symbols textiles and was sourced to Ghana.

The phrase, adinkra symbol in the article was linked to the online catalogue  which also reference these symbols by its Ghanaian origin. 

Perception of Adinkra symbols

People may see this precious culture element as just symbols that seems African and fits flamboyantly on African fashion trends and thereby project it as African. No man in any other country in Africa can ever do the Isiagu and Okpu Agwu better or ever project it as African without giving credit to its Igbo origin.

Although these symbols have been adopted by others such as Charle Watches, craftsmen in Ghana making clothes out of these symbols to earn a leaving etc. but can it be used without credits as in this case?

Adoption of Adinkra symbols without credit

The bigger issue stems from a fashion trend in Nigeria by Slymonay who seem to be adopting the Adinkra symbols on some sect of his clothing line without giving due credit to its Ghanaian origin. Celebrities like Juliet Ibrahim has been featured in one of his adverts and this signifies the level his brand has gotten. 

One Twitter user sprinklesofGh, who seem to have realised this disrespect due to her passion and love for the Ghanaian culture declared her displeasure on the abuse and generalisation of the Adinkra symbols as African.

other another user presented facts about the due credit being given but she rebutted that this was after they had made moves. He referred to the Adinkra as "African symbol" and the line as "symbolised Abgada".

Others called for a halt of the use of the Adinkra symbols in his Slymonay Agbadas due to its cultural value.

Below are the tweets of SprinklesofGh

And the reply to clarify that due credit has been given

Due credit of Adinkra origin by @Kuuku on twitter

Ido Rebutted by with this


Adinkra symbols are a cultural element of the Ghanaian people

While I was writing this article, I reminisced a trip I made to the Manhyia last Sunday during the Akwasidae and quickly went through the pictures I had taken at the palace to check if I could spot something that gives this article value.

Few of the images revealed some Adinkra symbols on the Kente cloth worn by the Ashanti King, Otumfour Osei Tutu II and others gathered at the palace although the goal was not to capture people clad in Adinkra designed clothes.

They are circled with red ink in the pic below.

Dwannini Mmen printed in the Kente garment of Ashanti King Otumfour Osei Tutu II during Akwasidae Source: Jeap Photography 0544818866

Gye Nyame printed in the cloth  of an aide to Otumfour Osei Tutu II at the gathering. Source: Jeap Photography 0544818866

Gye nyame printed in a comrades cloth Source: Jeap Photography 0544818866

Do you think anyone can use the Adinkra symbols and tag it as African? 
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Expropriation of Ghana's Adinkra Symbols by Nigerians Expropriation of Ghana's Adinkra Symbols by Nigerians Reviewed by RRAJ on 9/25/2018 Rating: 5

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