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(əkän`, äk`ən), people of W Africa, primarily in Ghana, where they number over 7.5 million, Côte d'Ivoire, and Togo. They speak languages of the Twi branch of the Kwa subfamily. Although patrilineal descent is recognized, matrilineal descent is more important; social organization is built around the clan. The AshantiAshanti
or Asante
, historic and modern administrative region, central Ghana, W Africa. The region is the source of much of Ghana's cocoa. It is inhabited by the Ashanti, a matrilineal Akan people who constitute one of Ghana's major ethnic groups. Before the 13th cent.
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 and the FantiFanti
, black African ethnic group, S Ghana, living around Cape Coast and Elmina, one of the Akan peoples. The Fanti speak a Twi language, which is part of the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo branch of the Niger-Kordofanian linguistic family (see under African languages); they
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, both of Akan stock, developed powerful confederacies and kingdoms in the 17th and 18th cent.



a group of related peoples of southern and central Ghana and the southeastern parts of the Ivory Coast, totaling nearly 4.8 million people (1967 estimate), including over 3 million in Ghana, where they form the nucleus for the unifying nation. The Akan languages belong to the Kwa group. On the basis of linguistic similarity, the Akan form the following groups: the Ashanti, Fanti, Akim, Akwapim, and Kwaya; the Agni and related Nzima, Sefwi, Ahanta, and Baule; and the Gonja or Guang, Krachi, Nawuri, and Abrong.

After World War II, a movement to create a single literary language began. Most of the population (77 percent in 1961) adheres to local, traditional religions (ancestor worship, polytheistic religions); the rest are Christians (Protestants and Catholics). The Akan peoples reached a high level of social and cultural development long before the Europeans came. A strong centralized state—Ashanti—existed among them in the 18th–19th centuries. From the early 20th century until 1957, the territory inhabited by the Akans was under British and French rule. Ghana—previously the Gold Coast, a British colony—was granted independence in 1957 and the Ivory Coast—previously a French colony—in 1960. The main occupation of the Akan peoples is tropical farming; the cultivation of cacao is important.


Potekhin, I. I. “Novoe afrikanskoe gosudarstvo—Gana.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1957, no. 2.


References in periodicals archive ?
The Akan people constitute the largest ethnic group in Ghana, West Africa.
As Ephirim-Donkor further explains: "to assist in their search for answers, the Akan seek out mediums, Akomfo, because they are indispensable to pinning down the precise supernatural causality of deaths in order to reassure an otherwise anxious community to proceed with burial obsequies" (Ephirim-Donkor, 2008, p.
Take the Akan example of freedom from religious dogmatism.
The Akan of Ghana say that ancient resting places are no longer in use today, "and yet the tripod continues to be the simplest form of stove.
Linguists point to the broad zone of Akan languages in Ghana's southern and middle belts--an area in which there have historically been significant political, social, and economic interactions among peoples.
Akan influence is fairly strong among the Senoufo, some of whom have adopted matrilineal descent systems resembling that of the Akan .
The notion of the ground of existence is very much steeped in Western metaphysics, as also is my good friend Gyekye's account of the Akan conception of God when he says "Onyame [God in the Akan language] is the Absolute Reality, the origin of all things, the absolute ground, the sole and whole explanation of the universe" (in An Essay on African Philosophical Thought,(4) another classic of contemporary African philosophy).
But thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Akans have symbolically come together again in art form to celebrate their heroes and distinguished personalities who have long joined the ancestors.
Given that linkages between the Akan and Ancient Egyptian languages were not direct but mediated through a Soninke connection involving multi-millennial migrations over thousands of kilometres, I did not expect to encounter Ancient Egyptian words with the same sounds and meanings as Akan words.
In Akan societies in Ghana, for example, we emphasise the sacredness of the individual human being with this saying: "Every person is somebody else's presumptive heir.