Denkyem (Dɛnkyɛm) Symbol, Meaning and Significance

 Denkyem (Dɛnkyɛm) Symbol, Meaning and Significance


Literal meaning




A symbol of adaptability, cleverness

This Adinkra is from the Akan proverb “Ɔdɛnkyɛm da nsuo mu nanso ɔhome mframa,” literally “The crocodile lives in water yet it breathes air.” One may attribute the adaptability of the aquatic reptile to himself to show his own adaptability and ingenuity if not formidability and mystery. These attributes stem from the crocodile’s ability to do the impossible–to live in water and yet breathe air.

Akan proverbs on ingenuity

1. Dua kontonkyikuronkyi na ɛma yehunu ɔdwomfo
Literally: It is the unworkable (severly crookend) wood that shows us the (true) sculptor.

2. Nwaanwaa hu ne so hwɛ a onyini ma yefreɛ no otope
Literally: When the small snail is able to take good care of itself, it grows for us to all it a big snail