Akoma “The Heart” is the Adinkra symbol for patience and tolerance. An African proverb states that when a person is said to “have a heart in his stomach,” that person is very tolerant.
I could go in so many different directions about this particular symbol. It’s a heart. The heart has been used in many cultures for love, passion and a connection to one another. That is the very essence of Akoma. Patience and tolerance are automatic when you love someone. This is why we don’t see faults or ignore faults in our partners. This is why a child will still cry and reach for an abusive parent. This is the unconditional love that many receive from their pets. This is one of the reasons why we accept things and situations that we shouldn’t accept.
Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as other people during the civil rights movement, showed Akoma towards a climate and country that didn’t deserve it. In America, people were shot, thrown into jail, ambushed with water hoses, spit on, hung, verbally attacked, attacked by dogs, and just about anything else to dissuade them from their goals. But, they didn’t back down. They didn’t receive everything they wanted, a few people were killed, and some of the things granted haven’t been for our best interest, but they did win some civil rights. We would still have open Jim Crow laws if they didn’t have the Akoma to withstand what was done to them. I thank them for their fight. There aren’t many young people alive today that would have done the same.
I am an American. I was born in America and I have never lived outside of this country. So, I cannot speak for the customs and culture that are outside of here. But, here, we have had too much Akoma for people who don’t look like us. We have more Akoma for strangers and famous people than we do our own family and neighbors. Akoma is a strong and powerful symbol, it is one of the things that we are known for. Black Americans are constantly told to be tolerant and patient at the expense of our prosperity. It’s time to actually understand the power behind Akoma and how it should be really used.
- Akoma must be shown towards our elderly and ancestors. As you grow in this world you become accustomed to your role in it. You are less likely to stray from the way that you were raised and more likely to reinforce traditions that never benefited you in the first place. The ancestors are gone, but we must be tolerant of their stories and what happened while they were here. Our elders can still be taught. They have learned how to use the phone, to the cordless phone, to the mobile phone, to now the smart phone. They have learned how to use a computer and continue to work in world with young technology. They can and must, learn to unlearn the racism, sexism, colorism, and all other prejudices that were engraved into their lives.
- Akoma must be given to our generations. We have been taught the same things that our parents were. It’s a cycle that must be broken. We have to take a step back, recognize these prejudices and find a way to move forward. Everyone doesn’t have to agree with you. If you remember that not everyone has all the pieces of the puzzle then you are more tolerant of their way of thinking.
- Akoma must be used on our children. They are the future and what we do to them will be the deciding factor of us succeeding or failing. Our children learn from us all. Whether you have children or don’t, whether you are famous or not, there is a young person who is looking at the example you make. Especially now in the digital world. Everything is being videotaped and spread globally. We have to understand to be patient with them and tolerable of the things that they do that are not respectable.
Patience and tolerance are virtues that we don’t give each other anymore. Akoma is imperative in everything we do to each other as well as ourselves. We are all on a journey and everything that we do is a process that changes our lives for better or worse. If I have Akoma for the African Diaspora I would have patience on our differences and be tolerant of the way we approach one another. I would understand that there are situations globally that have led to the fractured thinking and segregationist methods occurring. Showing Akoma in ourselves is finding beauty in all shades, sizes and creeds of blackness. It’s teaching, mentoring or supporting policies that benefit our children. It’s supporting our businesses, and actually hiring people in our neighborhoods so that the money stays in our neighborhoods. It’s respecting our elders and each other.
Akoma is having patience that some people may eventually get to where you are mentally, spiritually and physically. It is also being tolerant and understanding that some people may never get to your level. Akoma should be given to everyone, but we must learn to love and have heart for ourselves before we give it freely to others. When we are able to remove selfish motives and replace them with heart and love we will be able to move forward together.
Akoma. (n.d.). Symbols.com. Retrieved February 9, 2018, from http://www.symbols.com/symbol/akoma.
Akoma. (n.d.). West African Wisdom: Adinkra Symbols and their Meanings. Retrieved February 9, 2018, from http://www.adinkra.org/htmls/adinkra/akom.htm.