Akan Concept of Nature

The Akan believe that ones's welfare and the welfare of the family and clan is intrinsically woven into harmonious existence with the natural world. Respect and even reverence for the environment is therefore obligatory. As a result, the desire to conquer the natural world or dominate it is not eminent among the Akan. 


To safeguard the existence of the Akan, rules of conduct were developed and enforced. Some of these are the Akan "holy orders" or taboos. These holy orders are intended to protect the social order, and also, to serve  as prevention against individual and collective disequilibrium. Some examples of Akan holy orders include certain days when land tillage or visiting the forests are forbidden. This is to let EnoYsaase Yaa, or Mother Earth, and the spirits of the forest have rest. The holy orders forbid fishing on Tuesdays to give the seas, rivers, and lakes and also the fishermen time to replenish themselves. Fishermen are obliged to throw some of their catch back into the river, lake or sea as a "sacrifice" to the deity of the river, lake or sea. A living fish, and never a dead one, is used. It is a taboo to carry a whole bunch of palm fruits from the forests to the house. One is expected to throw some of the seeds in all cardinal directions before returning home. These "orders" are purely environmental protection measures. 

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