/ah"kahn/, n., pl. Akans, (esp. collectively) Akan for 2.
1. a language of the Kwa branch of Niger-Congo spoken in much of Ghana and parts of the Ivory Coast.
2. a member of any of various Akan-speaking peoples, including the Ashanti and Fanti.

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Cluster of peoples inhabiting southern Ghana, eastern Côte d'Ivoire, and parts of Togo.

Their languages are of the Kwa branch of Niger-Congo languages. In the 14th–18th centuries several Akan states, notably the Fante confederacy and the Asante empire, formed in regions where gold was produced and traded. Many of the Akan, who number some 16 million, work in urban districts.

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 ethnolinguistic grouping of peoples of the Guinea Coast (Western Africa) who speak Akan languages (of the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo family). They include the speakers of the Akyem, Anyi, Asante (Ashanti), Attié, Baule, Brong, Chakosi, Fante (Fanti), and Guang languages; some scholars also consider Twi a distinct Akan language (Akan languages). Most Akan peoples live in Ghana, where they settled in successive waves of migration between the 11th and 18th centuries; others inhabit the eastern part of Côte d'Ivoire and parts of Togo.

      Yams are the staple food crop in the Akan economy, but plantains and taro also are important; cocoa and palm oil are major commercial resources.

      Traditional Akan society is composed of exogamous matrilineal clans, the members of which trace their descent from a common female ancestor; these clans are hierarchically organized and are subdivided into localized matrilineages, which form the basic social and political units of Akan society. Most Akan live in compact villages that are divided into wards occupied by the matrilineages and subdivided into compounds of extended multigeneration families. The village is a political unit under a headman, elected from one of the lineages, and a council of elders, each of whom is the elected head of a constituent lineage. The lineage head is the custodian of the lineage's stools (stool), which are the symbols of unity between the spirits of the ancestors and the living members of the lineage; every lineage also has its own god or gods. There is a strong feeling of corporate responsibility among lineage members. Matrilineal descent also governs inheritance, succession, and land tenure. Paternal descent is also recognized and determines membership in the ntoro, a group sharing certain taboos, surnames, forms of etiquette, and ritual purification ceremonies.

      The most prominent aspect of Akan religion is an ancestor cult the rites of which serve to enforce tribal unity and morality. Other religious practices are based on belief in a supreme deity who created the universe and in lesser deities and spirits. Many Akan are now Christians.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Akan — [ä′kän΄] n. pl. Akan or Akans 1. a member of any of a group of peoples living mainly in Ghana and parts of the Ivory Coast, including the Ashanti of Ghana 2. the Kwa language of these peoples adj. of the Akan or their language or culture …   English World dictionary

  • Akan — /ˈakan/ (say ahkahn) noun 1. an African language of the Niger Congo stock, comprising two main dialects, Fanti and Twi; spoken by several peoples of Ghana and eastern Côte d Ivoire. 2. a speaker of Akan …   Australian English dictionary

  • akan (1) — *akan (1) germ., stark. Verb: nhd. fahren; ne. go (Verb); Rekontruktionsbasis: got., an.; Etymologie: idg. *ag̑ , *h₂eg̑ , *h₂ag̑ , *h₂og̑ …   Germanisches Wörterbuch

  • akan (2) — *akan (2) germ.?, stark. Verb: nhd. schmerzen; ne. ache (Verb); Rekontruktionsbasis: ae.; Etymologie: s. ing. *agos , Substantiv, Fehl, Schuld, Sünde, Pokorny 8; Weiterlebe …   Germanisches Wörterbuch

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