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Denkyem means “crocodile.” It is a symbol of adaptability, cleverness, from the proverb, “Ɔdɛnkyɛm da nsuo mu nanso ɔhome mframa,” to wit, “The crocodile lives in water yet it breathes air.”

Pronunciation of Denkyem


One may attribute the adaptability of the reptile to himself to show his own adaptability and ingenuity coupled with formidability and mystery. The idea that it takes ingenuity to live in water but breathe air comes from the inability of humans to do that. Hence, the anthropomorphized crocodile becomes a symbol that embodies superhuman traits the user desires to communicate about himself.

This is not the only Adinkra symbol with a crocodile. Funtumfunefu-denkyemfunefu (the Siamese crocodiles) is another Adinkra symbol with crocodiles in it.

Akan proverbs on ingenuity

1. Dua kontonkyikuronkyi na ɛma yehunu ɔdwomfo

Literally: It is the unworkable (severely crooked) wood that shows us the (true) sculptor.

2. Nwaanwaa hu ne so hwɛ a onyini ma yefreɛ no otope

Literally: When the small snail is able to take good care of itself, it grows for us to all it a big snail

3. Obanyansafoo na odi kosua bo mu dompe

Literally: It is a wise person who eats an egg and cracks a bone in it.

More Adinkra Symbols

Gye Nyame icon Sankofa icon Sankofa icon Adinkrahene icon Dwennimmen icon Funtumfunefu Denkyemfunefu icon Nkyinkyim icon Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan icon Denkyem icon Aban icon Abe Dua icon Adwo icon Agyindawuru icon Akoben icon Akofena icon Akoko Nan icon Akoma Ntoaso icon Akoma icon Ananse Ntentan icon Ani Bere A Enso Gya icon Asase Ye Duru icon Aya icon Bese Saka icon Bi Nka Bi icon Dame-Dame icon Dono Ntoaso icon Dono icon Duafe icon Eban icon Epa icon Ese ne Tekrema icon Fafanto icon Fihankra icon Fofo icon Gyawu Atiko icon Hwehwemudua icon Hye Wo Nhye icon Kramo Bone Amma Yeanhu Kramo Pa icon Kuronti ne Akwamu icon Kwatakye Atiko icon Mako icon Menso Wo Kenten icon Mframadan icon Mmere Dane icon Mpatapo icon Mpuannum icon Nea Onnim icon Nkonsonkonson icon Nsaa icon Nsoromma icon Nteasee icon Nyame Biribi Wo Soro icon Nyame Dua icon Nyame Nwu Na Mawu icon Okuafo Pa icon Osram ne Nsoromma icon Owuo Atwedee icon Sepow icon Tamfo Bebre icon UAC Nkanea icon Wawa Aba icon Woforo Dua Pa A icon