Nyame

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Nyame or Onyame is the name of God, the Supreme Being in the Akan (from Ghana) conceptual system. Nyame corresponds to the spiritual idea of Deity. The Supreme Being is also referred to as Onyankopon as well as Odomankoma. Onyankopong in the Akan spiritual system represents the Supreme Being (Deity), whereas Odomankoma is an Infinite Being whose Beginning and End are unknown to humans. The three names, Nzame, Onyankopon, and Odomankoma, exist to identify the Supreme Creator, the Originator of the Universe, and the Infinite, respectively. He created all things, and he is continually creating and restructuring his universe. From philology and etymology, other names of African origin, such as Nyambi or Nzambi from East Africa, seem to have sameness as Nzame/Nyame.
Nyame is one God that links the Akan religious belief system to monotheism. This is revealed by the fact that Nyame is one word in the Akan language that has no plural root by linguistic construct. The plural would have been anyame, which is nonadmissible in the Akan language. To emphasize the Oneness of Nyame, the word Onyame is more often used to represent the uniqueness of God as the One and Only One. Nzame has a number of spiritual properties that are expressed in Nzame, Odomankoma, and Nyankopong. The God of the Akans appears as a Trinity expressed as Nzame, Odomankoma, and Nyankopong with the following spiritual properties:
  1. All-seeing, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-satisfying, majestic, All-brilliancy, and many others that are unique to Nyame.
  2. He is One In One and yet Many and spiritually visible everywhere.
  3. He is every Thing and hence He is All Things in One and One Thing in All.
  4. His Son is Onyankopong and His spirit is Odomankoma.
  5. He is Indivisible, Almighty, and Dependable that is expressed in unity of the Trinity of Nyame, Onyankopong, and Odomankoma.
  6. He is boundless, Infinite, and giver of inexhaustible aboundance.
  7. He is the Giver of life and death to complete His inexhaustible creative process through the universal evolutions in accordance with His All-powerfulness (Otumfo). Nzame is both a forgiving and a punishing God.
The symbolic reminder of the Trinity, Unity of Nyame in Akan ecclesiastics is represented as Nyamedua (God's Tree) that draws attention to the underlying unity of universal creation whose Beginning is the End and whose End is the Beginning. Nyame as Creator of the Order in which he lives cannot be created by any other Being but his own Being. Thus, in the Akan belief system, Nyame is self-created in the sense that He owns all things. He is All-Thing and hence he cannot be created outside all things that he owns. Thus, God is everything and in everything. His Order of creation contains life-death and forgiveness-punishment duality, which reminds us of the African roots of duality, polarity, and contradiction in cognition.
In the creational process, it is held in the Akan belief system that Nyame created Osoro (Heaven) and Asaase (Earth), which form part of his spiritual system. Osoro is Osiris (Ausar) and Asaase is Isis (Auset) as spiritual properties of Onyame. Osoro (Osiris) is male and Asaase (Isis) is female. The implication is that Nyame is composed of male-female duality that constitutes the unity of his creation and the evolution that he set forth through the male-female creative process. Residing in Otumfo (the All-powerful) is the male and female characteristics that affirm his All-in-All. These characteristics of Nyame and the Akan belief system not only bear isomorphism with the Egyptian theology; it is also claimed that the Akans are the originators of the concept of One God in Trinity with male-female duality in ancient Egypt.
Humans as children of Nyame and Nyame as the last of the ancestors by the method of reductionism is expressed in the Akan belief system as All people are Onyame's offspring, no one is the offspring of Earth. Additionally, Onyankopong is often addressed in prayers and invocations as Opanyin or Nana (Grand Ancestor). The foundation of the Akan Ancestral Tree is Nyame. All Akan prayers or invocations start with Twediampong, Odomankoma, Oboadee, Nana Nyame … (i.e., All-powerful Nyankopong, Odomankoma, the Infinite Creator, the Grand-Ancestor Nyame …). The Otumfo (All-powerfulness of) Nyame is expressed in many Akan maxims, such as Obi a Nyankopong asbira no no w obo ne dua nye yiye (i.e., no human curse can have an effect on anyone who has been blessed by Nyankopong).
Etymological analysis of Nyame has produced a number of related words. The concept of Nyame is connected to the ancient Egyptian theological system that defines Nyame as a derivative from God Amen (Nya-Ame), where Amen, among many attributes, defines Satisfying God. A special day has been set aside in the name of Nyame, God Amen, for His reverence and worship. The day is Amen-Menda, shortened as Menmeneda (God Amen's Day or Nyame's Day), which is Saturday. Because he is a male in the Akan ecclesiastics and belief system, he is named Kwame (or Kwa-Amen-a). This simply affirmed the linkage of Akan ancient roots of the Alkebu-lan or ancient Egypt or ancient Ethiopia or Kernet.

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Further Reading

  • Ben-Jochannan, J. A. A. (1970). African Origins of Major Western Religions. New York: Alkebulan Books.
  • Danquah, J. B. (1986). The Akan Doctrine of God: A Fragment of Gold Coast Ethics and Religion. London: Frank Case.
  • Diop, C. A. (1974). The African Origins of Civilization: Myth or Reality. Brooklyn, NY: Lawrence Hill.
  • Dompere, K. K. (2006). Polyrhythmicity: Foundations of African Philosophy. London: Adonis and Abbey.
  • Gyekye, K. (1987). An Essay on African Philosophical Thought: The Akan Conceptual Scheme. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Meyerowitz, E. L. R. (1960). The Divine Kingship in Ghana and Ancient Egypt. London: Faber.
  • Osei, O. K. (2006). The Origin of the Word Aman: Ancient Knowledge the Bible Has Never Told (J. Issa, and S. Farsji, Eds.). Los Angeles: Ame-Ra Theological Seminary Press.
  • Seligman, C. G. (1934). Egypt and Negro Africa: A Study in Devine Kingship. London: George Routledge and Sons.