Adinkra symbols in national development

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This research work is based on the Adinkra symbols. The basic theory of the study is that at the present time there is a growing wave of interest in the Adinkra symbols which far outweighs the extent to which the history and meanings of the symbols are known by people. It is assumed that once this issue is addressed the Adinkra symbols could make significant contributions to various sectors of national development. The Akans of West Africa are credited with the historical custodianship of the symbols. This is with specific reference to the ancient Gyaman Kingdom of the present La Cote d’Ivoire, and the Ashantis of Ghana. The scope of coverage of the work deals with the origins, technical qualities, functions and applications of the Adinkra symbols. The controversy surrounding some notions of Islamic origins, Gyaman origins or Ashanti origins is resolved in favour of an earlier Ashanti custodianship. However the search for more distant origins is speculatively expanded to cover a broad historical perspective that traces some symbols as far back as to ancient Egypt. This is facilitated through an analytic and comparative study based on the shapes of the symbols and the etymological survey of their names in the Akan language. The study brings out issues concerning their indigenous functions, through the state of the art, to some suggested uses of some Adinkra symbols. Pertinent contemporary issues concerning the symbols, and dealing with a number of desirable diversifications, are given some serious consideration. These include social, economic, political, religious, environmental and other specialised uses of the Adinkra symbols. The potential functions of the symbols (from archaeology to zoology) are also treated. Most especially, the study brings to view the suggestion that the Adinkra symbols may serve as a tool in resolving some questions related to functional literacy. In this regard attempt has been made in the study to decipher these Adinkra symbols as a “readable script” in the Akan language. Finally the research work is presented as a means of suggesting keys to the appropriate applications of the Adinkra symbols for the purpose of national development.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Philosophy in African Art, 1997