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by Phil Bartle, PhD

Among the many adinkra symbols of the Akan, perhaps the best known is Gyenyame.

While difficult to translate into English, it is usually rendered as “unless God,” or “except for God.”

In my “Three Souls” paper, I explain the cosmological and cosmographic interpretations of the three colours, red, black and white. The white is associated with masculinity and the red with femininity, found in the whole universe, and in all of us as individuals, both physically and spiritually. Black is our “kra,” our gift from God, expressed in the weekday of our birth, our destiny. (The word ““kra” is translated as “soul, gift, goodbye, and goodbye gift).

Take your right (male) hand and let the palm face you, with the thumb upwards (the male direction). Put your left (female) hand next to it, palm by palm, with the thumb downwards (the female direction). The adinkra symbol gyenyame represents that image of your hands. It implies that the Supreme Being, כdomankoma, is beyond male and female. Nothing can exist or happen without it being the Will of God.

Gye Nyame – Unless god; Except for God

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