The conference will cover the following topics:
The history of the Guam and Akan people of Larteh, the Akonedi Shrine, Nana Oparebea’s family and the shrine of Nana Asuo Gyebi.
How contemporary Akom was established in America through the efforts of Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu I and Nana Akua Oparebeah.
The achievements of the Akom shrine houses in America over the past fifty years in terms of training priests, healing, education and rites of passages.
How Akom has become integrated in contemporary American professional life.
How African Spirituality can become a central part of Africana Studies curricula.
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Nana Panyin Afoah Baakan – Nana Oparebea initiated thousands of people into Akom. Nana Afoah is the first priestess that she trained at Larteh; and her title, Panyin, means elder. Nana Afoah resides at the Akonedi Shrine in Ghana and will talk about her experience training under Nana Oparebea and her work as a healer and spiritual counselor.
Okomfohene Nana Yaw Yirenkyi Opare Gybei I – Born in Ghana, Nana Yirenkyi is the Chief Priest of the Obosom Nana Asuo Gyebi. He resides in the United States and will talk about the history of the Akonnedi Shrine, the Obosom Nana Asuo Gyebi and the ancestor, Nana Panyin. Nana Yirenkyi lived at the Akonnedi Shrine for eleven years serving and learning from Nana Oparebea.
Okomfo –panyin Nana Aba Nsia Opare is the representative for Okomfohene Nana Esi Dinizulu and Okomfohene Nana Adzua Opare of the Onipa Abusia in Washington DC. She has been the representative since Nana Yao I established the first Akan shrine house in Washington DC in 1971. At that time Okomfo-panyin Nsia was designated as Nana Yao I representative and the care of the Washington DC Bosumfie (House Of the Gods ) was placed in her hands. Her position as representative for the Okomfohene was revealed to Nana Yao I through divination. The late Okomfo Korantihene Nana Yao Odum was designated to assist her.
Okomfo-panyin Aba Nsia Opare is a member of Nana Yao I first line of initiates to the Akan priesthood in America. She is the sixth in line of African-Americans trained and graduated in America as an Akan priest by Nana Yao I. Okomfo-panyin Aba Nsia is a priest to the Obosum Nana Asuo Gyebi and has been an ordained priest since 1974.
While Okomfo –panyin Aba Nsia has served professionally as a consultant and international instructor through the years, her passion over the past forty plus years is to continue to assist in maintaining and perpetuating the Akan religion and culture. First and foremost her priority is to assist Nana Asuo Gyebi in carrying for “his children” by serving as a conduit for his guidance through possession, consultation and divination. Okomfo-panyin Aba Nsia has also written three books, two of which focus on uplifting the consciousness of young girls.
Okomfo-panyin Aba Nsia has two daughters , three grandchildren and a host of ‘community’ children who strive to let the Akan morals and values mode their lives.
Okomfohene Nana Kwabena Brown – Nana Kwabena hosted Nana Oparebea during her first official visit to Washington, D.C., in 1973. He is the senior priest of the Temple of Nyame. He initiated into to both Akom and Afa, also known as Ifa. Nana Kwabena owned an African art store during the 1960s which served as a catalyst for discussions about African culture and religion. This evolved into group trips to New York to attend spiritual ceremonies hosted by Nana Dinizulu. In 1971, Nana Kwabena accompanied Nana Dinizulu on a charted flight to Ghana with over 200 other Diasporas. Nana Kwabena is well known in Washington, D.C., for hosting Odwira festivals, lecturing, spiritual counseling and officiating traditional weddings, naming ceremonies and funerals.
Nana Enyo Takyiampong – Nana Enyo is from the Diaspora and is married to Nana Yirenkyi. She graduated as a priestess to Nana Asuo Gyebi and the ancestor, Nana Esi. She was initiated by Nana Akua Oparebea. She worked with Nana Kwabena Brown to establish the first Akom shrine in Washington, DC. She will talk about the Akan system.
Okomfohema Nana Akua Amoabaa Botwe I (aka Gail Attakora) - Nana Botwe I became a member of the Bosum Dzemawodzi in 1969 and traveled with Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu I on his second chartered flight to Ghana, with over 200 African Americans. Nana was initiated to the Akan Deity, Nana Asuo Gyebi, in 1973 under the guidance of Nana Dinizulu and graduated in 1976 as an Akan Okomfo, as part of his second graduating class. In 1986, Nana initiated her first priest, Okukuranpon Nana Akosua Baakan Yirenkyiwa, and established her own shrine house, Akan Spiritual United Order (ASUO), which was officially sanctioned by Okomfohene Nana Akua Oparebea in 1992. In 1994, Nana helped to bridge the relationship between the Sankofa Shrine from Kofordua, Ghana, with the Ankobea Society in Washington, DC. In 2003, Nana was enstooled as Okomfohema by the elders of the Nana Asuo Gyebi Shrine with the support from the Nana Akonnedi Shrine and the Chief of Larteh. In the same year at the shrine, Osofo Yaw Nkrumah was enstooled as Osofo, and Olakwesu Kwaw was enstooled as Obrafohene. In 2006, Nana helped to erect a statue in honor of Nana Oparebea at the Nana Asuo Gyebi Shrine. Nana collaborated with elders to compile Whisper from the Mountains (copyright, 2002; production, 2013), the first comprehensive songbook from the shrine community in Larteh. A CD accompanies the book. Nana helped to initiate the 2013 enstoolment of Okomfohene Nana Yaw Yirenkyi Opare Gyebi I for the Nana Asuo Gyebi Shrine in Larteh. In 2016, the ASUO Shrine priestess, Okomfo Nana Yaa Amoabaa Asiedu, was enstooled by the Elders of the Nana Asuo Gyebi Shrine in Larteh as Nana Asuo Gyebi’s Ankobeahema. Nana also initiated the relationship between the Onipa Abusia Okomfohene, Nana Esi Dinizulu, and Okomfohene Nana Adzua Opare in 2017. Both Nana Okomfohenes were given the position as Abusiapaynins of the Nana Asuo Gyebi Shrine. Between 1986 and 2021, Nana trained and graduated a total of 55 priests and priestesses. Nana is a licensed clinical social worker (MSW) in Washington, DC, and Maryland. In 2002, she founded Soul Journey, Inc., a nonprofit social services organization designed to provide youths, families, and communities with physical, mental, and spiritual resources that will enhance lives and promote growth and development. Nana organized an all-day conference on Akan spirituality in the U.S. at Princeton University in 2019, and she organized the first global live-stream fundraiser Akom for the Nana Asuo Gyebi Shrine in 2021. Nana has six children who appreciate her passion and support her in the cultural and spiritual advancement of our people.
Nana Akosua Kodia Dunyo Ababio – Nana Kodia grew up in the Gullah community of Charleston, SC. Geechee is her first language. She met Nana Dinizulu while studying African history at SUNY[GR3] at Albany. After she became initiated to Akom, Nana Kodia served as head administrator of the Bosum Dzemawodi School for Black youth. Nana Kodia is a priestess of Nana Asuo Gyebi and the dwarf spirit Nana Asuofri. She will talk about the presence of African culture within the Gullah community.
Nana Akua Kyerewaa Opokuwaa was traditionally enstooled as Queenmother of Atonkwa Village, Elmina, Ghana in 1988. She was also an ordained as a Priest in the Akan Akom Tradition in 1995. Nana Kyerewaa is the author of three books related to Akan Culture: Akan Protocol: Remembering the Traditions of our Ancestors; The Quest for Spiritual Transformation: Introduction to Traditional Akan Religion, and Rituals and Practices; and Aduane Ye De: Recipies from my friends in Ghana. Nana is very active in the Diaspora community in Ghana as a member of the Council of Elders in Central Region African Ascendants Association, Member of The Pan African Diaspora Coalition of Ghana, and is also an Executive Member of The Chiefs and Queen Mothers Association Ghana. Nana was the Founder and Bosomfo of Asomdwee Fie, Shrine of the Abosom and Nsamanfo, Inc. in Washington, DC. Nana Kyerewaa was born in New Jersey, moved to Washington, DC, and repatriated to Ghana in 2008. She is a mother of 4, grandmother of 19, great-grandmother of 7. She will talk about her journey from being raised by her grandmother – the first women ordained to preach in the pulpit of the Pentecostal Church of God In Christ (COGIC) - to becoming a traditional African queenmother and Priest.
Obrafohene Nana Olakwesu Kwaw and Nana Ama Oparebea – Nana Olakwesu has a doctoral degree in neurology and will talk about how he works with youth using both his Western education and knowledge of Akom. The Akonnedi Shrine enstooled him as the Chief Obrafo (executioner). His wife, Nana Ama, studied engineering and successfully organized the project to build a monument to Nana Oparebea at the Akonnedi Shrine.
Okomfo Nana Mena Yaa was born in Jamaica, then migrated to the USA in the early 1980s. She is a licensed Physical Therapist (UWI in Jamaica) and holds an MS in Oriental Medicine (AM College in Miami). Nana Yaa and her spouse, Dr. Robert Vassall, jointly own a medical practice in South Florida, where the integration of alternative therapies and allopathic medicine is utilized to treat mental illness. Nana Yaa applies her knowledge as an Akan Priest in the clinical setting, to facilitate the management of mental and physical disorders. Her presentation will elucidate the spiritual etiology of common mental ailments.
Okomfo Adwoa Tano – Nana Tano is a priestess to the ancient Obosom Asuo Tano. She holds a PhD in African Public Policy, Development, and World Affairs from Howard University. Her dissertation entitled, Entering the Sacred Circle: A History of the Akan Spiritual Tradition in the United States 1965-2015, covers the story of the migration of the Akom religion from Ghana to America. It constitutes the basis for much of the scholarly research for the Commemoration initiative. Nana Tano will address the need for the African studies curriculum to place more emphasis on spirituality as the center post of African culture as well as implications for museum curation.
Akom Kese – Inspired by the work of Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu I, Akom Kese has convened annual Akoms (spiritual ceremonies) and conferences on Akom since 2015. More recently it has convened a Council of Elders. Akom Kese will present an overview of his history and its mission to teach the tenets of Akom and Akan culture.
Nana Baakan Okukuranpon Yirenkyiwa – Nana Bakaan grew up in Harlem during the 1950s and 60s. She will discuss how she was inspired by the Black awareness movement led by Amari Baraka, the Nation of Islam, The East and others. During the early 70s she lived in Ghana for a year and while there met Nana Oparebea. Nana Bakaan is a priest to the Obosom Nana Asuo Gyebi and has organized events that served as a bridge between the Black political and spiritual communities.