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African-American Adinkra Project: AALUJA

African-American Adinkra Project: AALUJA

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Published by Asar Imhotep
I just wanted to share with you a preliminary article I have written in regards to a new endeavor I hope all of you in the near future will be willing to participate in. It is called the African-American Adinkra Project and it is an ongoing project that seeks to develop a series of signs and symbols that are representative of African-American culture and philosophy, in the same way that the Adinkra symbols have come to identify Akan philosophy and culture.

I have decided to initiate the endeavor by creating the first symbol which I call AALUJA. It is similar in conceptualization to the Sankofa bird and concept with our own spin to it. The other symbols will come from the creative and artistic minds of the African-American community. So this is an open project. More details are to come.
I just wanted to share with you a preliminary article I have written in regards to a new endeavor I hope all of you in the near future will be willing to participate in. It is called the African-American Adinkra Project and it is an ongoing project that seeks to develop a series of signs and symbols that are representative of African-American culture and philosophy, in the same way that the Adinkra symbols have come to identify Akan philosophy and culture.

I have decided to initiate the endeavor by creating the first symbol which I call AALUJA. It is similar in conceptualization to the Sankofa bird and concept with our own spin to it. The other symbols will come from the creative and artistic minds of the African-American community. So this is an open project. More details are to come.

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Asar Imhotep on Jul 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/29/2013

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T
HE
A
FRICAN
-A
MERICAN
A
DINKRA
P
ROJECT
:
 
AALUJA
By Asar Imhotep (June 30, 2012)The MOCHA-Versity Institute of Philosophy and Research
luntu/lumtu/muntu
The
African-American Cultural Development Project 
(AACDP) is an ongoing national venture which seeksto consciously create a viable and robust African-American culture (see Imhotep 2009).
1
 
Culture
simplycan be said to be the ways by which a population solves its problems. Culture is developed by a peopleto shape human behavior in a way that benefits society. The culture itself is held up by four majorpillars:
Cos-Mythology, Motif, Ethos
and
History 
.
Cos-Mythology 
seeks to explain the creation
of the universe and man’s place
in it.
Motif 
is the dominantset of themes
or ideas that are captured in a people’s
creative expressions which informs their economicsystem.
Ethos
is the shared value-system of a people that shapes their political organization and spiritualpractices. And
History 
is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information aboutpast events; it is the bio-genetic rope that ties all of the present together, while guiding human actiontowards a desired future. History is also what gives people their identity.This essay will focus on an aspect of one of the major pillars of culture, and that is
motif 
. The word
motif 
is a variation of the word
motive
, which derives from:
mid-14c., "something brought forward," from O.Fr.
motif 
(n.), from
motif 
(fem.
motive
), adj.,"moving," from M.L.
motivus
"moving, impelling," from L.
motus
, pp. of 
movere
"to move" (see
move
). Meaning "that which inwardly moves a person to behave a certain way" is from early 15c.
1
Who I call the
Bakala
,
Nkala
, or
Nkale
.
 
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 Essentially, creative motifs are symbols that compel us to move, act, be active and produce. They areinward oracles that motivate us to be agents of change and inspire us to discover new more satisfyingdimensions of being human.The
 African-American Adinkra Project 
(AAAP) is a sub-project of the larger AACDP that aims to create aset of cultural icons that represent and speak to the collective values and philosophy of African-American people (as much as humanly possible). They would be used, in part, to serve as identitymarkers for African-American people in the same way that
mdw nTr 
(hieroglyphs) identify the ancientEgyptians and
cuneiform
identifies the ancient Sumerians as cultural products.The inspiration for this endeavor comes from examining the important role signs and symbols play in theoverall cultural production and identity of African communities of memory. In an ongoing effort to re-establish that which what was lost in the Trans-Atlantic holocaust of enslavement, it is believed that aproject such as this will help to solidify our identity on our own terms.One of the major things lost to us due to slavery was our collective sovereignty. The lost of sovereigntydestroyed our ability, for a time, to define reality as we saw fit and to create cultural products thatreflect our collective ethos. As Jordan Ngubane reminds us in his work
Conflict of Minds
(1979: 60),
To be human is to be able to say what and who you are and to be able to say why you are hereand where you are going; it is to be able to define yourself. Ancient Zulu philosophers taught thatthe person was unique in that he defined himself; in that he knew the worth of the value he was.
The AAAP is about
human agency 
. Cultural self-definition and expression is a human right and this wasdenied to African people in the West for a time. All cultures have collective signs and symbols thatrepresent the ideas of its people and we want to reestablish among African-Americans the act of redefining reality as they see fit and reestablish our own sacred symbols.
What are Adinkra?
 Adinkra
are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d'Ivoire inWest Africa, that represent concepts or aphorisms. It is believed that they were originally gold weights.These symbols are now used on pottery, textile, logos, advertisements, architecture and jewelry.Each sign, besides having a decorative function, is associated with a proverb or aphorism which contains
the people’s accumulated wisdom. One example can be given as follows:
ASASE YE DURU
“the earth has weight”
 
This symbol represents the importance of the earth in sustaining life. It is a symbol of the providenceand the divinity of mother earth. Each symbol acts as a mnemonic device which ignites a memory that isunderstood in a greater context. A few more
adinkra
examples are given below:
 
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 Rattray
2
gives the following meanings to the symbols above:
1.
Gyawu Atiko
, lit. the back of Gyawu's head. Gyawu was a sub-chief of Bantama who at the annualOdwira ceremony is said to have had his hair shaved in this fashion.2.
 Akoma ntoaso
, lit. the joined hats.3.
Epa
, handcuffs. See also No. 16.4.
Nkyimkyim
, the twisted pattern.5.
Nsirewa
, cowries.6.
Nsa
, from a design of this name found on nsa cloths.7.
Mpuannum
, lit. five tufts (of hair).8.
Duafe
. the wooden comb.9.
Nkuruma kese
, lit. dried okros.10.
 Aya
, the fern; the word also means ' I am not afraid of you ', ' I am independent of you' and the wearermay imply this by wearing it.11.
 Aban
, a two-storied house, a castle; this design was formerly worn by the King of Ashanti alone.12.
Nkotimsefuopua
, certain attendants on the Queen Mother who dressed their hair in this fashion. It isreally a variation of the swastika.13 and 14 Both called
Sankofa
, lit. turn back and fetch it. See also Fig. 149 , No. 27.15.
Kuntinkantan
, lit. bent and spread out ; nkuntinkantan is used in the sense of ' do not boast, do not bearrogant '.16.
Epa
, handcuffs, same as No. 3.
These symbols have come to identify the very Akan of Ghana. In other words, these symbols are nowsynonymous with the Akan people. The way these symbols have come to identify the Akan people is theway I envision the symbols that we create for ourselves to be synonymous with African-American(
Nkale
) people in the United States.
2
 
R. S. Rattray,
Religion and Art in Ashanti 
(Oxford, 1927). p. 265.
 

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