REVIEW – Akan Soul Names

It is a tradition in certain areas of Africa for an infant’s first name to be one of the seven days of the week. How extraordinary!

The Akan people reside in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The very first name given to their newborns and the name by which they are known throughout their lives happens to be the day of the week upon they were born. It is called their kradin or their soul’s name.


Male Name Female Name
Sunday Kwasi Akosua
Monday Kwadwo Adwoa
Tuesday Kwabene Abenaa
Wednesday Kwaku Akua
Thursday Yaw Yaa
Friday Kofi Afua
Saturday Kwǎmè Amma

The Akan believe that the kradin reflects each child’s soul for which there are seven types.  “People born on particular days are supposed to exhibit the characteristics or attributes and philosophy, associated with the days. For example, a Monday-born is supposed to be peaceful and calm, while a Friday born is a wanderer and adventurer, and a Saturday born is creative.”  It is also thought that the soul determines the day of the week upon which a child is born.  “It is the soul of the person that decides when to allow the unborn child to enter this world. It is believed that this particular day may affect his/her behavior, fate and future.

Children are often given several names at birth and even more throughout their lives. These names can indicate a special event that occurred during their birth, their birth order in the family, tributes to previous family members and later on the honorable titles they earn through merit. Still the “day name” is given the prime consideration in discerning the true spiritual identity of each Akan individual.

This fascinating information, which sounds a great deal like the tenets of Dayology, was found in a paper entitled The Sociolinguisitic of Akan Personal NamesThis article  first appeared in the Nordic Journal of African Studies in 2006.  You can read it for yourself because it is published online.  While this academic resource is totally reliable, it is stylistically rather dry. Also, the Akan day names are just a small portion of Kofi Agyekum’s impressive sociological research.

How long has this soul naming tradition been carried on? It has been mistakenly presumed that Christian missionaries introduced the seven days of the week to the Akan. The truth is that the Akan used their soul names long before the advent of the early Europeans. It is a historical fact that in 1482 when the Portuguese arrived in Ghana they were greeted by the chief Nana Kwamena Ansa. The name Kwamena means born on Saturday.

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