My wife lived in Ghana for a year before we met. She has some great photos and had some pretty unique experiences living without most of the modern conveniences we take for granted. She did without things like electricity and running water.* She has a pendant she bought there that she wears on a necklace. It is cut in the shape of the Adinkra symbol Gye Nyame. It means “except God” and represents the supremacy of God.
We’ve been married for over 11 years now, and I’ve always imagined that this was a local symbol peculiar to the village or region where she was living. Then last week I was looking at African Tees and saw it on a shirt. I did some digging, found the links I’ve put above, and others. I just started googling and following the links and it was a great time.** There are a quite a few Adinkra symbols and they have some great meanings. One that I found to be especially interesting is Funtunfunefu-Denkyemfunefu, Siamese crocodiles.
Siamese crocodiles have two heads, as shown in the symbol, but one stomach. It is in their best interest to cooperate yet they fight over food. This symbol represents the importance of democracy and unity in diversity. What an incredible picture of a concept that so few really grasp. That it comes out of Africa speaks volumes, in my mind, to the fact that even when humans can clearly see the right path, we are incapable of walking it on our own.
And of course on a smaller scale it makes me think about the Church and Christians. We are a diverse group, spread all over the world, called to one purpose. Yet often our greatest levels of conflict are with one another. This in the face of the fact that we are commanded to do the opposite and have been given the Holy Spirit to assist us in that regard. It seems in times of conflict and strife with one another that this ought to be a key indicator that has us stop and search our hearts and motives. Are we walking in the Spirit or in the flesh?
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
Footnotes below the jump.
*Our kids don’t have a chance. One morning they were complaining because they weren’t crazy about the cereal they were getting for breakfast. Ingrid busted out the photo album to show the kids what a ‘grocery store’ (open air market) looks like in Ghana. She explained to them about going and getting water from a well and working to get food to eat. We let them know how fortunate they are to never have to be hungry and to get breakfast every day.
**When I was a college student I used to spend entire evenings in the library just following trails of information. I’d run across a term or concept, hit the card catalog and just go where it took me. It is so awesome that I can now do this from my couch. I hope I never take it for granted.