About the Adinkra Symbol Ethics Mirror
Dreaming Out Loud is founded upon an idealistic vision, yet grounded in the realities of everyday life. Our culture is exemplified by a collection of African symbols known as the Adinkra. These symbols come from the Akan – one of the larger ethnic groups in West Africa – who live in southern Ghana and southeastern Cote d’Ivoire.
In the early days of our founding, the Adinkra symbols were woven into our unique character development program “Walking the Dream Path.” We used the symbols to ask youth, communities and ourselves “What do you reflect?” Over time, six symbols stood out to us as the most universal: it seemed that you could relate to these West African symbols whether you hail from Albania or Alabama…Bamako or Beirut.
It was these six symbols that would evolve into The Adinkra Symbol Ethics Mirror, referred to simply as the Ethics Mirror. The Ethics Mirror is the common thread that binds all our programs, defines our culture and the vision we wish to promote as a part of strong individual and community character, leadership and performance values.
In the spring of 2011 our Executive Director, Chris Bradshaw, traveled to Ghana to learn more about the foundation of our core values. Watch him venture to discover more about the Adinkra symbols in the Origin of Dreams.
Adinkra Symbols: An Identity of Their Own
So we mentioned that the symbols come from Ghana, but what were they used for? The Adinkra symbols were traditionally used most often during funerals, serving as reminders of divine providence and the wisdom inherent in the fundamental virtues of life. Literally the word Adinkra means “a message one gives to another when departing.” The symbols are woven or printed onto cloth that is worn during the solemn occasion of one’s transition to the “afterlife.” The grieving person conveys a message to the departing soul that reflects the Akan’s communal values and worldview.
These multi-layered parables and philosophical concepts expressed a cultural posture centered on the quality of human relations, spiritual upliftment, and character building. As such the Adinkra symbols are woven into the fabric of Dreaming Out Loud’s culture and provides the context for our daily work.