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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
No one ever heard Togbe Afede condemning his Ewe kinsman for stealing GHS51.2 million from state coffers, but to him, a promise made by an Akan man was to be considered an evil crime and condemned by all well-meaning Ghanaians.
By Akan thought I mean the indigenous intellectual perspectives of the Akan as found in or resulting from their heritage or customs.
in the opinion of this House it is desirable that the Akan language should be taught in all schools in Ghana." .
Kennedy Agyepong allegedly spoke of the extermination of Ewes after the brutal attack on Akans in the Business District of Accra by some Ga youth organized by Hon.
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).
The effects of this comment transcended political barriers into the ethnic scope, which was already plagued with tensions, and the politicisation of ethnicity continued to cause separations between the Akans, especially the Asantes and the Ewes.
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.
The fact remains that the largest ethnic group in Ghana is the Akan, and if one has the support of the majority, then one must be thankful for that.
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." This means that everyone is to be regarded as a potential aristocrat in his own family or clan.