Suitability of Symbols
What generally makes an object a suitable symbol? Usually objects, plants and animals are found more suitable as symbols because they run true to type, e.g., the egg is characteristically fragile and so can be effectively used to represent the delicate nature of love and the loving relationships; fire is always warm and so can be used to symbolize the warmth of sincere love. Human nature, even though complex and changeable, is used to represent certain broad traits. Thus, woman in the indigenous culture has come to represent the creative principle of life and man has become a symbol of strength and destructiveness. Boys and girls among the Ewe and Akan of Ghana, Togo and Benin are therefore given names that are characteristic of their natures. A boy may be given a name such as: Oko (Akan), "War"; Bekoe (Akan), "He has come as a fighter"; Tukpe (Ewe), "Coolness"; Nyuinyo (Ewe), "The good is not a taboo to anyone"; Blewusi (Ewe)--"Take it easy"; to reflect what they normally bring to people's minds. As observed earlier, human beings, objects, animals and plants are found suitable as symbols on the basis of any enduring traits they may have and in the minds of people represent these enduring traits.
an excerpt from AFRICAN SYMBOLS AND PROVERBS AS SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE AND TRUTH by N. K. DZOBO