The Akan spiritual system also merits discussion here. Within the context of metaphysics, the Akan believe that each person has a nature that is both phys- ical and spiritual. For the Akan, the interchange between the soul that originates from the CREATOR (kra); the physical body that serves as a container for the vital organs (nipadua); and the spirit or energy (sunsum) that, while immaterial in its power and nature, accounts for one’s intellect, personality disposition, character, and individuality is the essence of African people’s lived experiences. Ephirim-Donkor helps us understand that in the formation of an individ- ual’s life, the spirit (ntoro) of the male mingles with the blood (mogya) of the female to form the physical component of the personality. Thus, human beings were believed to have two components: one biological that was derived from the mother and one spiritual that was derived from the father. The father’s sun- sum is transmitted to his children during sexual intercourse and procreation, so that the “ntoro-sunsum” molds the child’s personality and disposition during a child’s formative years. So important was a father’s influence on a child that chil- dren who do not come under that aegis may experience unhealthy lives, psy- chological maladies, or even death. Thus, in dealing with a psychological ail- ment later in life, one could not simply address the physical symptom consistent with the way Western medicines deal with illness and disease. Rather, one must address the spiritual core of the problem. In that regard, the Akan system would simply ask how one who struggles with a particular ailment could be properly treated without dealing with the spiritual elements of an individual’s personality.
The Bantu-Congo system of cosmology also provides some fascinating in- sight into the concept of spirituality, that intangible energy and life force we have been speaking about. This system, as articulated by Fu-Kiau in his writings, argues that individuals are sacred at birth; and as human beings (muntu), we have the capacity for self-healing power. Humans are believed to be a “rising and living sun” who at the moment of their birth enter into a living community with a radiating potential for health and healing. That potential, or divine spark that constitutes their electrical energy, is bolstered or weakened by the circumstances surrounding their conception. Life then is about a process of perpetual and mutual communication of radiating waves of energy that are given off and received by individual human beings. Those waves, or oceans of energy as Fu-Kiau describes them, can be both positive and negative, and indi- viduals can either be sensitive to or immune to the energy, in reacting to life cir- cumstances in adaptive or maladaptive ways.