Coming across “Abasoms” in the Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities by Charles Russell Coulter and Patricia Turner, one of the first things that stood out was “evil spirits”. Every time I come across something related to Africa being labeled as “evil” I do more research. Unfortunately, I kept coming across the same information.
“To drive the Abonsam from the village or home and to cleanse the area it was necessary to have four weeks of silence. During this period, it was hoped that the evil spirits would be frightened away. This was followed by a night of creating noise; thunderous sounds by rattling pots, beating sticks together and screaming loudly.”
According to the Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, Abosom is “Probably the same as Abonsam“. Abasoms/Abonsam are spirits in Guinea. The only information I’ve been able to find on Abasoms/Abonsam is the same as found above.
The information in this post will be in regard to information I was able to find on Abosom. The Abosom are spirits in Ghana. The Ashanti/Asante are the largest of the Akan people (34 subgroups) of Ghana and Ivory Coast. In the traditional religion of the Ashanti, Abosom (spirits, plural – ọbosom, singular) assist humans on earth.
“The term Abosom (ah-boh’-som) is an Akan term for Deities, Goddesses and Gods, the Divine Spirit-forces in Creation. The Abosom are the children of Nyamewaa-Nyame – The Mother-Father Supreme Being. The term Abosom can be traced directly back to the Ancestral Akan language of Khanit and Kamit (ancient Nubia and Egypt).” – The Origin of the Term Abosom in Kamit
The original information I came across had the Abosom listed as house, water and tree spirits that were believed to be malevolent. According to Joseph S. Kaminski, “Abosom are believed to abide in other natural objects including trees, plants, rocks, mountains, hills, caves, rocks, brooks, wells, and so on”.
According to Kwasi Bempong, there were divisions of Abosom.
- Atano (water)
- Ewim (sky)
- Abo (earth)
Atano Abosom are spiritual entities that originate from water. These were the “children” of Tano (son of Onyame and Asase Ya (“Old Woman Earth”) and brother of Bia). Ta Kora/Taa Kora, another name for Tano, is the highest of the Akan spirits on earth. He is embodied in the Tano/Tanoe River in Ghana.
“The Supreme Being created lesser powers (abosom>; singular ọbossom) to help humans with their lives. Tano, the river spirit, for example, is an ọbossom. Tano is neither a god nor equal to the Supreme Being. Tano is a lesser spirit created by the Supreme Being. After the Supreme Being created everything, he retired to allow decisions to be made by the living.” – Joseph S. Kaminski
Ewim Abosom and Abo Abosom manifest as abrafo. Abrafro is a military term that means “warrior or executioner”.
“The Abrafo are the executioners of the Company, and their emblem is a knife, like an ordinary kitchen knife, with which they attacked their victims. Their duty in battle is to behead those of the enemy killed on the field, who are not removed by their comrades.” – 20,000 Names from Around the World
The Ewim and Abo Abosom “were [in fact] those who saw the laws (mmara) were carried out.”
“Punishment and death were meted out by the abrafo-abosom, while the older group of abosom, the Atano, were deliverers of blessings.”
Another “group” of Abosom I came across are the Akradin Abosom. These are Akan spirits who govern the solar, lunar and planetary bodies.
“The Abosom are the Asunsum, the Spirits, operating through the many Suns, Moons, Stars, Planetary bodies, Oceans, Rivers, Mountains, Wind, Fire and the Black Substance of Space comprising Abode (ah-baw-deh’) or Creation. They are the Divine “Organs” regulating Order within the Great Divine “Body” of Nyamewaa-Nyame just as your organs (smaller bodies) regulate order within the greater body-you. The Akradinbosom are a particular grouping of Abosom identified by Their unique functions within the greater company of Abosom.” – Akradinbosom
As for the Abosom being listed through various sources as evil or malevolent spirits, I came across the following information, both of which are from Asante Ntahera Trumpets in Ghana: Culture, Tradition and Sound Barrage by Joseph S. Kaminski.
“The Asante also make offering to abosom to court their goodwill and to pacify them, for instance the abosom are ambivalent, though, they may manifest as either good or bad. The Asante venerate Tano (the river spirit), for example, by pouring libations and reciting prayers and surrogate speeches to it.”
“The deities are held either to be good and evil or to have powers of good and evil. Thus, unlike Onyame (God), they are not wholly good and hence they are considered in Akan theology and cosmology to have independent existence of some sort; they operate independently of God and in accordance with their own desires and intentions.”
- Abasoms, Afro Mythos. [Accessed: 16 October 2014]
- Abonsam, Myth Beasts. [Accessed: 16 October 2014]
- Abonsam, Mythical Archive. [Accessed: 16 October 2014]
- Akhan, Odwirafo Kwesi Ra Nehem Ptah. Akradinbosom, Odwirafo.com, 2012. [Accessed: 16 October 2014].
- Akhan, Odwirafo Kwesi Ra Nehem Ptah. The Origin of the Term Abosom in Kamit, Odwirafo.com, 2012. [Accessed: 16 October 2014]
- Bempong, Kwasi. An African Theology: [Onyame], [abosom], and [ak]mfo]] in the Akan Belief System, Assata Shakur Forums. [Accessed: 16 October 2014]
- Coulter, Charles Russell and Patricia Turner. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, McFarland & Company, Inc., North Carolina, 2000, pp. 6, 7, 72, 453.
- Kaminski, Joseph S. Asante Ntahera Trumpets in Ghana: Culture, Tradition, and Sound Barrage, Ashgate Publishing Company, 2012, p. 68.
- Meaning of the baby name ABRAFO, 20,000 Names from Around the World, 20000-names.com. [Accessed: 16 October 2014]
- Wikipedia contributors. Akan religion, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 June 2014. [Accessed: 16 October 2014]