The Akan Family System

This week on our Blog, our Operations Intern Emmanuel talks about the Akan family traditions. The Akan people are the ethnicity which makes up most of the Southern Region of the previously named Gold Coast (Known as Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire today).

The Akans, in Ghana, are the most powerful ethnic group. They have a lot of cultural practices, beliefs, and superstitions. One interesting thing about the Akans is their family system. The Akans, like many other tribes use the matrilineal system of inheritance. It is believed that a child is related to the mother by blood and related to the father by spirit. Hence, between the mother, the child and the father, the father is the stranger. However, the child is related to his uncle because the uncle is the brother of the mother thus, they are related by blood. All the brothers of your mother are your uncles and her sisters are your mothers. Before the intestate succession law 111 was introduced by the PNDC, widows and their children were denied inheritance of their spouse's properties. This is because the man is not related to his wife or child by blood so the direct successors were the nephews and nieces. In the paternal side, all the sisters of your father are your aunties and his brothers are your fathers.

One interesting thing about the Akan family system is that there is nothing like cousin. The children of your uncle (your mother's brothers) are your kids since you are related to your uncle and they are related to their mother by blood. However, the kids of your mother's sister are your siblings because their mother is your mother too by blood. Moreover, the son of your auntie is your father because he is related to your father by blood (technically, your father's brother does not have kids because his kids are related to their mother.)

It is through this system that the monarchical leanings of the great Ashanti kingdom is made.

Emmanuel and his family


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