Tamfo Bebre icon

How to pronounce Tamfo Bebre

The meaning and philosophical significance of Tamfo Bebre

Tamfo Bebre means “The enemy will suffer” or “The enemy will stew in his own juice.” It is a symbol for ill-will, jealousy, and envy.

“Ɔtanfo Bɛbrɛ” literally means “An (unnamed) enemy will suffer” while “Me tanfo bɛbrɛ” means “My enemy will suffer.”

“Tamfo” is a misspelling of “Tanfo,” the Akan word for “enemy.”

Tamfo Bɛbrɛ conjures up the image of a calabash or bowl that is difficult to submerge because the harder one pushes, the stronger the restistance one feels. Some Akans use such imagery to describe what futility and struggle their enemies must endure to keep them down.

Akan proverbs on ill-will

Woto adubɔne a ebi ka w’ano.

Literally: If you throw (apply) poison, some of it touches your mouth.


The image of the symbol was taken from the Kasahorow Adinkra Library.

Adinkra Chart: Explore West African Symbols