Anyi people

Anyi / Agni

Anyi / Agni / Ton / Kotoko

The Anyi or Agni (also known as Ton or Kotoko) Kwa-speaking sub-group of Akan people living in Cote d`Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana. There are approximately 1,200,000 of them, mainly in the Ivory Coast. They also live in Ghana.

They are concentrated in Southeastern Ivory coast- especially east of Camoe River in Dimokro, Aboisso, Abengourou, and Dondoukou district of Bongfouanou department- and across the border in southeastern Ghana. The Anyi are closely related to the baoule people of Ivory Coast.

The Anyi people attracted international attention when they crowned Michael Jackson as a prince of the Anyi people on a visit to the country in 1992. He was under stool name "Amalaman Anoh" of Anyi Krindjabo Kingdom.

Anyi people map

The town of Sanwi mourned Jackson on his death on 25 June and gave him ceremonial burial of a prince in abstantia. Rev Jess Jackson, American Civil Right activist has been installed as Michael Jackson`s successor.

 Reverend Jesse Jackson was recently installed as replacement to prince Michael Jackson by the Anyi people in Krindjabo royal village, eleven (11) kilometers Aboisso in southeastern Ivory Coast amidst pomp and pageantry. He first made ​​blessings for the repose of the soul of Michael Jackson. "I pray for the musical legacy of Michael Jackson. May his soul rest in peace. I belong to the same family, "said the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

 

Ethnonymy

According to different sources, multiple forms of their name can be observed: Agnis, Ani, Anya, Anyi, Anyis, Ndenie.

 

Language

The Agnis language is part of the Niger-Congo languages. Allegedly, there are 250 000 speakers in the Sud-Comöe.

History

Origin

The Anyi people are a subgroup of the Akan, originally from Ghana, who fled the from the Ashanti tribe to their current location in present day Ivory Coast between the 16th and 18th centuries.

The Agnis people originated from the Nile River Valley. They have kept the name of the first verified tribe to have founded Ta-Mery (The Beloved Land, in Lower Egypt): The Anis, coming from Ta-Khent (Land of the beginning, in Ancient Ethiopia), which is also called Ta-Neter (The divine land). Agnis kings held the title of Amon, name of the demiurgic figure in Egyptian cosmogony: Amon Azenia (16th century), Amon Tiffou (17th century), Amon Aguire (19th century).

At the beginning of the 18th century, the first Agnis, coming from the Ashanti kingdom from Ghana, crossed the Ivorian frontier with another group of Akans. When they got to the Aby lagoon, they founded the Indenie kingdom, the Sanwi kingdom as well as the Moronous kingdom with the Mrôfo Agnis.

It is important to note that other subgroups exist, like the Agnis-Assonvon near Ebilassokro, in the East of the Ivory Coast.

Today

11% of Agnis live in Abengourou: the main city in the old Indenie kingdom. The rest of the people is spread out over the regions of N'zi-Comoé, Zanzan, the Sanwi kingdom as well as a minority in Ghana. Today the Anyis live mainly in the area once known as the Kingdoms of Sanwi and Indene. They also inhabit Zanzan in Ivory Coast and there are small populations in Ghana.

Leadership

The Akan people generally operate under a monarchial system which is also true for the Anyi. Before France colonized the regions inhabited by the Anyi there were three castes: nobility, freemen, and slaves. Today there is usually a local headman, who is directed by a council of elders and who represents his constituency in regional politics. Like other Akan peoples, the Anyi have a highly stratified society that includes a hierarchical political administration with titled officials who proudly display their rank and power. The Anyi are a matrilineal people, and women have relatively high social status exhibited in both the political and economic arenas.

 

Society

The Anyi live in loose neighborhoods of family housing complexes which are generally spread apart. Funerary images and monuments are the preferred forms of art of the Anyi. A family often displays its affluence through the decadence of its memorials as greater beauty is thought to indicate greater respect to those being memorialized.

 

Family

To marry a suitor must provide three things:

Adultery is frowned upon and at one time people would be banished from villages due to it and even put to death.

The women have to admit how many lovers they have had, to save both their own lives and the ones of their children. The husbands can then decide to forgive them or not.

 

Religion

The Anyi follow a traditional belief Akan religion and also Islam and Christianity. In the traditional belief Akan religion living one's life so that one will be remembered and respected as an ancestor is a primary motivations. Their religious system is based upon the continued honoring of one's departed ancestors. When a person passes away an elaborate ceremony follows, involving ritual washing, dressing the deceased in fine garments and gold jewelry to be laid in state for up to three days, and a mourning period that allows the family and community to show their respect for the departed in order to guarantee a welcome into the spirit world.

Among the Agnis people, the féticheur is called Kômian. In the Akan societies of Ghana and on the Ivorian Coast, Kômian qualifies everyone with a knowledge of the occult. Kômians can teach their knowledge to the monarchs or predict the future. Their magical/religious trances allow them to learn concepts that a mere mortal would never be able to. Kômians are gathered in secret societies.

 

Language

The Agnis language is part of the Niger-Congo languages. Allegedly, there are 250 000 speakers in the Sud-Comöe.

 

Economics

Anyi operate primarily under an agricultural economy which revolves around banana and taro production. Yams are also an important staple crop. Many locally grown crops were introduced from the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade. These include maize, manioc, peppers, peanuts, tomatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes. Farm animals include sheep, goats, chickens, and dogs. Markets which are primarily run by women take place every four days and are the center of the local economy. Local produce and craft items are sold alongside imported goods. Palm oil is sold as a commodity on the international market. Forestry work is also practiced by the Anyi.

 
Nutrition

Main carbohydrate staple(s): Despite varying diets and food customs, the people of Côte d'Ivoire generally rely on grains and tubers (root vegetables) to sustain their diet. Yams, plantains (similar to bananas), rice, millet, corn, and peanuts (known as groundnuts in Africa) are staple foods throughout the country. At least one of these is typically an ingredient in most dishes. The national dish is fufu (FOO-fue), plantains, cassava, or yams pounded into a sticky dough and served with a seasoned meat (often chicken) and vegetable sauce called kedjenou (KED-gen-ooh). As with most meals, it is typically eaten with the hands, rather than utensils. Kedjenou is most often prepared from peanuts, eggplant, okra, or tomatoes. Attiéké (AT-tee-eck-ee) is a popular side dish. Similar to the tiny pasta grains of couscous, it is a porridge made from grated cassava.

Main protein-lipid sources: For those who can afford meat, chicken and fish are favorites among Ivoirians. Most of the population, however, enjoys an abundance of vegetables and grains accompanied by various sauces. Several spicy dishes, particularly soups and stews, have hot peppers to enrich their flavors. Fresh fruits are the typical dessert, often accompanied by bangui (BAN-kee), a local white palm wine or ginger beer. Children are fond of soft drinks such as Youki Soda, a slightly sweeter version of tonic water.

 

Land tenure

Historically, the government has viewed the use of land as equating ownership. After independence, Ivoirian law on landownership required surveys and registration of land, which then became the irrevocable property of the owner and his or her successors. However, the National Assembly enacted the Land Use Law in 1988, which established that land title does not transfer from the traditional owner to the current user simply by virtue of use. However, in rural areas, tribal rules of land tenure still exist, which generally uphold that members of the tribe that dominates a certain territory have a native right to take that land under cultivation for food production and in many cases cash crops. Throughout the country, land tenure systems are changing from those in which rights are secured by traditional village authorities (communal systems) to those in which land can be bought and sold without approval from customary authorities.

 

Polgygamy

Polygamy was abolished by the Civil Code in 1964, and is now punishable by a fine of CFA 50 000 to CFA 500 000 (USD 80 to USD 800) or by six months to three years imprisonment. Under transitional provisions, the law does recognise polygamous marriages that were entered into prior to 1964.

 

Females sexual freedoms

Women in Côte d’Ivoire have a moderate degree of legal protection with regards to family matters. The state recognises only marriages that are performed by a registry, and the law prohibits the payment and the acceptance of a bride-price. Legislation regarding the age of marriage is quite strict: the law forbids the marriage of men under the age of 20, of women under the age of 18, and of any persons under the age of 21 without parental consent. Still, the incidence of early marriage is very high. A 2004 United Nations report estimated that 25 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 were married, divorced or widowed. The Demographic and Health Survey suggests that this figure should be even higher: it reports that 44 per cent of women now between 25 and 29 years were married before the age of 18. Traditional marriages with girls as young as 14 years of age remain common in the conservative northern communities. On a national scale, some 15 per cent of girls are already married at age 15.

 

Kin avoidance and respect

The family is linked to a larger group, the clan, primarily through lineages. One of the most important kin groups is the patrilineage, a group formed by tracing descent through male forebears to a male ancestor. In eastern Côte d'Ivoire, however, many societies are organized into matrilineage, which trace descent through female forebears to one female ancestor. Both men and women are included in both type of lineage, sometimes five or six generations removed from the founding ancestor, but the linking relatives are of one gender. Lineages generally share corporate responsibility for socializing the young and maintaining conformity to social norms. Lineage elders often meet to settle disputes, to prescribe or enforce rules of etiquette and marriage, to discuss lineage concerns, and preserve the group overall. They also pressure nonconformists to adhere to group mores. Lineages are generally grouped in villages and united as a chiefdoms.

 

Marriage ceremony

Ivoirian marriages center on the combining of two families. The creation of a new household is significant to wedding rituals. The government abolished polygamy in 1964, and set the legal marriage age at eighteen for boys and sixteen for girls, although polygamy is a widely accepted lifestyle among many native ethnic groups. Additionally, the government does not recognize forced marriage or dowries ("bride prices") paid to the mother's family to legitimize the marriage. Although marriage customs are changing and becoming more Westernized, a large majority engage in traditional native wedding rituals. Divorce, although not common, is socially acceptable among most ethnic groups.

Marriage is usually preferred to be within the community of Côte d’Ivoire, with the father as the main overseer.

Lineages generally share corporate responsibility for socializing the young and maintaining conformity to social norms. Lineage elders often meet to settle disputes, to prescribe or enforce rules of etiquette and marriage, to discuss lineage concerns, and in general to preserve the group itself. They also serve as pressure groups on individuals, bringing nonconformists in line with socially accepted standards. Lineage rules usually require individuals to marry outside their lineage, and the resulting alliances are important sources of social cohesion. Although these practices were widely condemned by some of the teachings of early European missionaries and by colonial officials, they have been preserved nonetheless because they provide a coherent set of expectations by which people can live in harmony with the universe as it is perceived in that society.

 

Specialized village structures (mens’ houses)

Côte d'Ivoire is a juxtaposition of the urban and rural. Its cities, particularly the fashionable Abidjan, are replete with modern office buildings, condominiums, European-style boutiques, and trendy French restaurants. They stand in sharp contrast to the country's many villages, accessed mainly by dirt roads, whose architecture is comprised of huts and simple abodes reminiscent of an ancient time. While the cities are described as crowded urban enclaves with traffic jams, high crime rates, an abundance of street children, and a dichotomy of rich and poor, the villages are filled with farmers tending their fields, native dress, homemade pottery, and traditional tribal rituals. Most traditional village homes are made of mud and straw bricks, with roofs of thatched straw or corrugated metal. The Baoule live in rectangular structures, while the Senufo compounds are set up in a circle around a courtyard. High fences surround many Malinke village of mud-brick homes with cone-shaped straw thatched roofs. The artistic Dan paint murals with white and red clay onto their mud-brick homes.

 

Trade

Historically, Côte d'Ivoire has had strong economic ties with France. During the 1990s, Côte d'Ivoire's principal markets for exports were France and the Netherlands, which purchased approximately one-third of its total exports, a trend that continues today. The United States is the third largest export market, with Italy following. Current statistics indicate that Côte d'Ivoire exports $3.9 billion worth of goods annually, primarily cocoa, coffee, tropical woods, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, cotton, and fish. France, which provides one-third of Côte d'Ivoire's imports, is the country's largest supplier. The United States, Italy, and Germany each supply about 5 percent of the country's imports, which include food, consumer goods, capital goods, fuel, and transport equipment. Due to the 1999 coup, Côte d'Ivoire received only limited assistance from international financial institutions during that year, and the European Union stopped its assistance programs altogether.

 

Passage rituals (birth, death, puberty, seasonal)

Each ethnic group has its own traditions. The major transitions of life—birth, adolescence, marriage, and death—all are marked with ceremonies and rituals. Among the most important are initiation rites. During initiation, participants undergo endurance tests and other secret ceremonies. Many marriages are arranged, although in the towns and cities more young people now choose their own spouse. Marriage usually takes place early, especially for women and especially in rural areas. Motherhood thus begins at a young age. By age fourteen almost one-half of the girls are married. Divorce and separation are not common. Funerals are central to several ethnic groups. Among the Akan, when there is a death in a village, all villagers shave their heads. Among the Baoulé, burial is secret, even for someone as illustrious as the first president, Felix Houphouët-Boigny

 

Cultural material (art, music, games)

The Baoulé, the Dan (or Yacouba) and the Senoufo - all known for their wooden carvings. No one produces a wider variety of masks than the people of the Ivory Coast. Masks are used to represent the souls of deceased people, lesser dieties, or even caricatures of animals. The ownership of masks is restricted to certain powerful individuals or to families. Only specifically designated, specially trained individuals are permitted to wear the masks. It is dangerous for others to wear ceremonial masks because each mask has a soul, or life force, and when a person's face comes in contact with the inside of the mask that person is transformed into the entity the mask represents.

 

Death and afterlife beliefs

The vast majority of Ivoirians believe that a person's soul lives after death. Because often death is considered the transformation of an ordinary human into an honored ancestor, funerals are elaborately celebrated. Relatives spend a great deal of money to provide the proper funeral services and memorials for their loved ones, which usually take place forty days after the death, and involve dancing, drumming, singing, and feasting that goes on for days, even weeks.

 

Religion

In 2002, approximately 30% of the population were Christian, with the majority (about 19%) affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. There are a number of Protestant denominations represented in the country, including Methodist, Baptist, Assemblies of God, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. About 1% belong to the Harrist Church, a Protestant denomination founded in 1913 by the Liberian minister William Hade Harris. There are also a number of syncretic religions combining Christian tenets with African traditional customs and beliefs. These include the Church of the Prophet Papa Nouveau and Eckankar. About 39% of the population are Muslim, nearly 12% practice traditional indigenous religions, and about 17% claim no religious preference or affiliation. There are a small number of Buddhists. Religious and political affiliation often follows ethnic and regional lines. Most Muslims live in the north and most Christians live in the south. Traditionalists are generally concentrated in rural areas in the north and across the center of the country. The Akan ethnic group traditionally practices a religion called Bossonism. The Baoules, an ethnic group that is largely Catholic, held a dominating position in the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire, which ruled the nation from it's independence in 1960 until 1999. The constitution implemented in 2000 provides for freedom of religion; however, Christianity has historically enjoyed a privileged status in national life with particularly advantage toward the Catholic Church. For instance, Christian schools have long been considered official schools and so have received subsidies through the Ministry of Education; however, Muslim schools were considered religious institutions and were not considered for similar subsidies until 1994. In the 2001, President Gbagbo initiated the Forum for National Reconciliation, designed, in part, to ease relationships between religious and ethnic groups. Through the Forum, Muslims accused the government of attempting to create a Christian state. Since then, the president has met with Muslim leaders to discuss their concerns and government leaders have made greater attempts towards interfaith understanding and acceptance.

 

Adornment (beads, feathers, lip plates, etc.)

In Côte d'Ivoire performance art embodies music, dance, and festivals. Music exists almost everywhere—in everyday activities and religious ceremonies—and most singing is done in groups, usually accompanied by traditional instruments. Along with the native melodies of the indigenous groups, Ivoirians participate in more contemporary music from Europe and America. Dichotomies—from the Abidjan Orchestral Ensemble that performs classical music to street rock and roll—can be found in the cities. Traditional dance is alive in ceremonies and festivals, and is usually linked to history or ethnic beliefs. The Senufo N'Goron dance, for example, is a colorful initiation dance where young girls wearing a fan of feathers and imitate birds. Malinke women perform the Koutouba and Kouroubissi dances before Ramadan. The various traditions have unified the masquerade, music, and dance as an expression of the continuation of creation and life, and during these events the mask takes on deep cultural-spiritual significance.

 

Ceremonial / Ritual adornment

Collective ceremonies and rituals are important to many indigenous religions, and include ceremonial dancing, ancestor worship sacrifices, mask carving and ceremonies, fetish priest ceremonies, and divination ceremonies. To the Akan, the most important of these is the yam festival, which serves as a memorial service for the dead and asks for their protection in the future, is a time of thanksgiving for good harvests, and is a ritual of purification that helps purge the group of evil influences. Ivoirians conduct rites in a variety of sacred spaces, including a variety of shrines dedicated to spirits, Christian and Roman Catholic churches, and mosques. Missions with churches, schools, and seminaries appear throughout the country. Yamoussoukro is home to the Grand Mosque and the largest church in Africa, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.

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