Adu Ogyinae

Adu Ogyinae is the name of the first man in Akan mythology. Among the Akan, a group of people who occupy portions of Ghana and Ivory Coast, it is believed that they descended from a group of people who entered the area around 2000 BC as farmers. Stone-using villages have been discovered in this region, which suggests that they kept livestock and cultivated crops.
In the area of Brong, Adansi, and Assin, a matrilineal Akan group emerged and spread to inhabit most of the land between the Volta and Comoe Rivers. They found Guan people, the accepted early owners of the land, already in some of those places. Nevertheless, around 500 BC, the Akan had begun to establish their social and political institutions. It is about this time that the mythology of the people began to take shape and the elders had created legends and narratives that explained the people's origins.
According to a traditional libation in Adansi, it is declared that Adansi was the first Akan state and that it stands at the head of the Akan Nation. In fact, the cosmogony given by the elders of Adansi state that Adansi was the place that Adu Ogyinae came into existence.
In the tradition of the Akan, the Great Creator, Odomankoma, another name for Nyame, made everything in the universe. Thus, Odomankoma made Awo, Abena, Aku, Aberaw, Afi, Amen, and Awusi, corresponding to the English Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. However, it is in Nyame's transformation as Nyankopon that we see the relationship with Asase Yaa Afua and the creation of humankind. The first man, Adu Ogyinae, did not simply appear without the necessary cosmogony; he represents all of the abusua of the Akan. Many of the deities of the clans are symbolized by bodies of water. For example:
Deit Motif Day Water
Bosom Muru Python Tuesday Muru
Bosom Tano Elephant Saturday Tano
Bosom Pra Leopard Wednesday Pra
Bosom Twi Monkey Sunday Twi Lake
In addition to the bosoms, there are two Adae, ritual holidays, every 42 days for recognition of the ancestors. Every sixth Sunday is the large Adae for the Royal Ancestors, and then every sixth Wednesday is the Adae for the non-royal ancestors.
According to the Akan, a large worm opened a hole in the ground and seven men, five women, one leopard, and one dog came out of the hole. These names are normally repeated on a Monday or Tuesday, which are called Nykli days. The names of the original people are as follows:
Males Females
Adu Ogyinae Takyuwa Brobe
Opoku Tenten Aberewa Noko
Adu Kwao Aberewa Samanate
Adu Kwao 2nd Aberewa Musu
Kusi Aduoku Abrade Kwa
Ankora Dame
Odehye Sabene
Of the people who came out of the hole, only Adu Ogyinae seemed to understand. Everyone else was stunned and bewildered by what they saw on Earth, and they were fearful. It was then that Adu Ogyinae began to lay his hands on the other people to give them strength.
Adu Ogyinae organized them into work teams to build houses, and in a few days they had built places to shelter themselves. It was while he was engaged in felling trees that a tree fell upon Adu Ogyinae and killed him. This is the beginning of the Asante wukuda oath, which says, “I swear by the name of Adu Ogyinae.”



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Further Reading

  • Maquet, J. (1972). Africanity: The Cultural Unity of Black Africa. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Parrinder, G. (1954). African Traditional Religion. London: Hutchinson University Library.