"The ethics that govern relationships and neighborliness among the Akan are expressed in symbols, proverbs and maxims. The traditional symbols are printed on Akunintam cloth (the cloth of the great warriors) and on Adinkra cloth (the parting cloth traditionally meant for funerals and memorials). The symbols of the latter have been greatly popularized, hence their use here to highlight what an Akan community expects of its members and those with whom it deals. The most central idea of community is that of unity in diversity. This is represented by two crocodiles who share one stomach (Siamese twins). The symbol points out that it is unnecessary for people whose destinies are joined together to struggle for a larger share of the available resources. Community of property and mutual aid used to be a cardinal principle among the Akan. As a people, the Akan abhor covetousness, greed and all egocentrism, and believe that affluence and power are the result of togetherness.
" 'One's neighbor's day is one's day'; one's trouble is bound to affect one's neighbor. Many proverbs, sayings, and folktales underline this principle. The Adinkra symbol of four hearts joined together teaches togetherness and unity in thought and deed. There is a recognition that disharmony is possible in a community, but the symbol and proverb relating to tongue and teeth say that although they quarrel occasionally, that is never a reason for parting company. The community warns its members not to bite one another and presents them with the qualities of fair play, peace, forgiveness, unity and harmony. The need for co-operation in situations of interdependence is represented by a chain which also marks the unity that is the strength of a community.
"The solidarity and security one expects to find in a community is captured in the symbol of the enclosed compound, the traditional quadrangle housing several generations that belong to a lineage, as well as some who are related as clients and spouses. This safety and care is also symbolized by a fence. Within the fence are one's closest neighbors; outside the fence, diplomacy and caution are needed. Within the fence, one is expected to be truthful, strong, brave, ingenious, creative, loving, wise, patient, just, intelligent, generous, alert, obedient, and so on, but all these qualities are to be available for the maintenance of the health, security, and welfare of the community.
"The community disapproves of all that brings death or negates the above qualities. Sins and taboos are made known so that offenders have themselves to blame for the punishment they get, for what they do or fail to do brings negative influences that affect the whole community and has to be expiated with rituals and sacrifices. The Akan abhor murder, suicide, stealing, insincerity, and hypocrisy. They frown upon pride and ostentatiousness. Ingratitude, selfishness, laziness, filthy habits, lasciviousness and sorcery are all things that break or undermine community and therefore are to be avoided. A healthy neighborhood will vigilantly monitor interpersonal relationships to ensure good neighborliness."