Owo foro adobe

See that Superwoman up there, in all her ebony might and strength?

That's not really how I view myself, but it is how I view who I want to be. I want to be the badass superhero who steps in, saves the day, and kicks infertility's ass into shameful submission.

"Kicking infertility's ass for myself and others since 1998."

Ha. Ha-ha. HA-motherflippin-sarcastic-HA-HA!

It seems as though lately, I've been the kickee rather than the kicker.

When I'm feeling small and defeated and insignificant (like now), I imagine myself with that fierce expression and flexed muscles, the crimson cape flowing down my back. I even have a theme song. Madonna's "4 Minutes" (featuring Justin the Timberlake, who consequently activates Chance's gag reflex) makes me want to go out and smack some villain ass in tempo to a funky groove. Someone blasted that song on repeat all the way to work this morning, but I swear it wasn't me.

I digress…what I really want to draw your attention to is Superwoman's tattoo.


It is a West African Adinkra symbol which means dwennimen or "ram's horns." According to the Adinkra Symbol Index, the full explanation is thus:

symbol of humility together with strength

The ram will fight fiercely against an adversary, but it also submits
humbly to slaughter, emphasizing that even the strong need to be

Hmm. I am humble. I think I am strong. Given that my current arch enemy is the Infertilibeast, I can't ever see myself submitting humbly in the face of slaughter by infertility. Maybe the humility comes from being able to admit that you just got your ass spanked, to be able to lay down and know when it's no longer worth it to take the Dylan Thomas approach of raging against the dying light. Is true acceptance the ability to let go gently? Somehow I think that for most of us, that level of "humility" is the equivalent of nirvana; we all strive to get there, but the journey is long and rough and many of us will never actually achieve it. I feel like I will always scratch and rage in one way or another, and if that excludes me from being humble, then so be it.

I think I like the definition of dwennimmen on this website better:

of strength (in mind, body and soul),

humility, wisdom and learning

It is a more modern translation, with just enough of a nuance that it feels like it fits me better. My mom has a tattoo of the dwennimmen symbol, and I think it is fitting and appropriate for her. She's one hell of a kick ass and take names kind of woman.

Mommy Lady and my sisters are addicted to tattoos. I think they each have more than ten now, with most of them being African symbols. Chanel and Dani each have Adinkra symbols which represent them also, and all three of them have been after me to choose a symbol and also have it permanently-inked-into-my-skin-by-the-jabbing-of-a-thousand-painful-burning-pokes (read, I'm too chicken shit to do it). Mom eventually wants to get tattoos of a "family" symbol with the symbols representing me, Chanel, and Dani surrounding it.

 The symbol that actually feels like it fits me best is

Owo foro adobe: "snake climbing the raffia tree"


Because of its thorns, the raffia tree is a very dangerous challenge
to the snake. His ability to climb it is a model of persistence
and prudence.

Traditional meaning: persistence and prudence

Modern meaning: used as a symbol for performing the unusual or the impossible

This road might be thorny and I might get pricked along the way, and I might be moving in a direction that would otherwise go against my natural instinct, but I'll be damned if I let the challenges I face keep me from striving to keep moving in that upward direction.

Here is the Adinkra Symbol Index and another list of Adinkra Symbols. The former link is a bit easier to navigate and has the more traditional translations and explanations behind the symboles. The latter has the more modern definitions.

Which symbol most appeals to you, either for who you are or who you are striving to be? Share here in the comments or if you feel so inclined, write a post on your blog and leave the link here.

36 thoughts on “Owo foro adobe”

  1. It’s bad I like the ladder one, huh. Hmm.
    If not the ladder, I like the sentiment behind Osrame ne Nsoroma (although “harmony” is certainly a goal, not a life statement) and Ananse Ntontan. My life is nothing but complexity.
    I like these. Let us know what you end up doing, if anything!

  2. I *really* like Osrame ne Nsoroma, Tash. I do have those three words when it comes to my marriage, so if I had to pick one to represent my relationship with Frank, that would surely be it.
    My sister Chanel has Ananse Ntontan. I think it’s a red tattoo on the underside of her wrist.

  3. I really like those and the definitions are great. I have a tattoo, I’ve thought about getting another one, but I just have NO idea. I’ll have to look at those more closely.

  4. I like the palm branch (Nyame Nti), which is faith and trust in God, or the sunburst (Nsoroma) which is sort of the same but with “patronage of” and “dependency” in there. I’d like to be the Nkyinkyin, and the Hye-wo-nhye, but I’m not always!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Jess, I’d also like to be Hye-wo-nhye – I think we all would. To be able to go through all of this and not get burned — that would be something.

  6. I love some of those symbols but I am too brain dead (sick family) to figure out which on best describes me. I want at least one more tattoo but, if I ever figure out which one is me, I might have to add one of those symbols to my future tattoo list.

  7. Come on Moxie…..you can do it. We’ll all go to Marco’s….I’m sure we can get you a newbie discount since we already get discounts. It only hurts for half a second…ok I lied, a lil more then half a second…but as soon as the outline is down its all good from there!!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. I was instantly attracted to the ladder symbol — owuo atwedee.
    Too bad that it turned out to be the ladder of death. Gulp.

  9. Everybody’s doing it ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s not that bad, I have two and I survived. Have I mentioned how much I hate needles? I’ve had two babies naturally to avoid a needle in my spine and arm, so tattoos really aren’t that bad.
    I love the symbolism of these. One of my tats is a Celtic symbol that changes negative energy into positive energy. I love the reminder that I may not be able to change circumstances, but I can always change my attitude.

  10. i’m glad i’m not you, because i’m tired. i’m even tired for you. i’m scared and nervous for you.
    anyway, i have huge tattoos, and since i’m not in any *way* i get to go to my next tattoo appt on april 1st. i love tattoos. it’s like flesh therapy. just in time, too.

  11. I wish that you had the alternative, Charmy. I can’t say much more than dammit or fuck about it because I’m just that saddened.

  12. Odo Nyera Fie Kwan
    (o-do n-ye-rah-a fee kwahn)
    Symbol of love, devotion,
    and faithfulness
    I liked the look of the symbol first off then I read it and I think that says alot about me.
    I have 8 tats, I love them!

  13. I’m liking:
    Symbol for the wisdom of learning
    from the past to build for the future
    i.e leaving my ex and not falling into another abusive relationship and building a future with someone completely opposite from said ex.
    I think I might actually get this as my next tattoo.

  14. BOA ME NA ME MMOA WO – “help me and let me help you”
    I think this is the tattoo for the IF blogosphere. I love it.
    I have one tattoo – the word “also” in the middle of my back. My best friend has the mirror image on hers. In high school we started saying “I love you also” instead of “I love you too” because it isn’t an easy kneejerk way to say I love you – you have to think about it.

  15. Pft a “tiny” influence? WHEN (not if) I get it I will think of you every time I look at it. Now I just have to practice how to pronounce it. LMFAO!

  16. I Hated that “syke” moment. I was like oh no way I would have shaved her head after that little freak out.

  17. Of course I’m partial to NYAME NTI. I think you should have a few drinks and then have Chanel, Dani, and Mommy-Lady take you to the tattoo place. It’ll be fine and if you have enough fun beforehand, you won’t remember a thing! LOL!

  18. I think you sould get the first one, I love it. For me, the next one I’m getting is a cambodian saying (I’ll have it written in Khmer/sanskrit so it’s more symbol-like) that loosely means “to cross the river”. They say it about women and childbirth, and it’s focused on them “weathering the storm and getting to the other side”. I wanted to get that with or without a BFP cuz I have weathered a storm, and crossed to my own side of the river:-)
    Go do it!!! It’ll be my third…

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