Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Roto Ninte, in turn, responded to the cosmogonic focus of many Adinkrahene by arguing that their ideas were inspiring but she wondered if Adinkra were not just as relevant for perspectives on the world which are not dependent on conceptions of Ultimate Reality. In her view,apart from some mystics who claim to have experienced ultimate reality,notions of ultimate reality are fundamentally speculative rather than experiential,and ,for many,of little or no practical value. Inspiring, yes, but largely speculative nevertheless.

Why not use Adinkra as a means of reflecting on conceptions of the universe which can be more readily explored, and their validity or lack of same verified, as with the claims of modern science? And even when the claims are speculative, as in contemporary claims about the unifying forms of matter, such as supersymmetry, with the necessary knowledge and persistence one can follow the arguments developed and assess their cognitive validity.


What is the fundamental structure of the cosmos?

Adinkrahene Wafeben Nitiu explored this question from a perspective different from the often metaphysical speculation of many Adinkrahene (Adinkra enthusiasts and students). He chose to explore the question form the perspective of physical cosmology.

To that effect he explored the question of arriving at an understanding of the fundamental structure of the cosmos in terms of ideas derived from modern physics. He combined knot theory in the mathematical branch of topology with efforts to arrive an understanding of how the fundamental forces of nature are interrelated. In exploring knot theory he reflected upon the symbol of Nyansapo, the wisdom knot, which symbolises intelligence and wisdom and is associated with a tale in which an Asante chief shows his superior knowledge and intelligence by tying and untying a complicated knot. It is also related to the proverb "the leader's right to power is by virtue of his greater wisdom".

He began from the understanding that the Adinkra designs do not demonstrate direct relationships with the ideas they symbolise but can be used a means of evoking ideas. Nyansapo, however, like some Adinkra symbols, could be related, with more or less imagination, to the ideas they represent. Nyansapo, then, could be seen in terms of the image of opening and closing, tying and untying, freedom and enclosure, lines and circular forms, associated with tying and untying a knot.

Using this visual relationship as a template, he reflected on the cosmos on terms of a knot that needs to be untangled by reflection and diligent empirical study. This led him to the question as to whether or not the cosmos had an architect, a conscious creators and organiser. He could not say and did not think he had to identify with the ideas of other Adinkrahen who might have thought that was the case. He chose, however, to use the idea of creator and organiser as a contemplative template, an imaginative form, that might lead to the unravelling of puzzles, as a means of generating inspiration in his explorations.


Symbol of wisdom, ingenuity, intelligence and patience. An especially revered symbol of the Akan, this symbol conveys the idea that "a wise person has the capacity to choose the best means to attain a goal. Being wise implies broad knowledge, learning and experience, and the ability to apply such faculties to practical ends."