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How to pronounce Adinkrahene

The meaning and philosophical significance of Adinkrahene

Adinkrahene means “King of the Adinkra symbols.” It is a symbol for authority, leadership, and charisma.

The etymology of Adinkrahene is Adinkra + ɔhene, literally “Adinkra king” or “king of the Adinkras.” This symbol is reportedly the inspiration of the design of the other symbols. The elegant figure with three concentric circles is easy to draw and its abstract form connotes the importance of ideas and concepts, which are the essence of Adinkra–they are visual representations of important concepts in Akan philosophy.

Does Adinkrahene represent anything physical?

Adinkrahene from ripples of water
Concentric circles from a drop of water. Could this be the inspiration for Adinkrahene?
Source: Life Is Color/Public Domain

I like Adinkrahene for its simplicity and elegance but one wonders if its seemingly abstract form could have been inspired by more concrete objects or phenomena such as could occur in nature. As many Adinkra symbols have such origins, such speculation should be welcome. Eglash, Bennett, Lachney, and Bulley observe that the idea for Adinkrahene may have come from the patterns made by ripples of water.

Adinkrahene in logos

Adinkrahene on Ashesi University's seal
The seal of Ashesi University, featuring Adinkrahene, a symbol of excellence

Because of the highly desirable virtues Adinkrahene represents, I was expecting to find it in a lot more logos than I found. What could explain this dearth of usage? Could it be because the symbol is considered too simple and its meaning cannot be easily discerned from its representation?

Ashesi University, a private university in Ghana, uses Adinkrahene in its seal. The seal prominently features Ashesi’s logo in the middle of two concentric circles which form the rim. On the right side of the rim is Adinkrahene, which, for them, means “highest, best, or king,” and is a symbol of excellence.

Akan proverbs on kings or rulers

1. Ɔhene sua sɛ dɛn koraa a, baakofoɔ nsoa no

Literally: No matter how small a king is, he is not carried by one person.

2. Nea ɔpɛ sɛ obedi hene daakye no firi aseɛ sua som ansa

Literally: He who wants to become king in the future begins by learning how to serve.

Adinkra Chart: Explore West African Symbols