Dr. Pamela Fox

Mary Baldwin College

Chain Link

A West African adinkra symbol of unity and human relations

Dr. Ronald Crutcher, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Miami University and president-designate at Wheaton College, made the following comments at the inauguration of President Pamela Fox:

The symbol for inauguration of Pamela Fox as the ninth President of Mary Baldwin College is the Chain Link, the West African adinkra symbol for unity and human relations. I would like to offer some context for this symbol's meaning to Mary Baldwin and to Pamela, whom I value as a friend and have supported as a mentor.

Adinkra is the name given to the colorful, hand-painted and hand-embroidered cloth used for mourning by the Akan people of Ghana and the Cote d'Ivoire. Stylistic symbols called adinkra symbols are printed on these cloths to express feelings and to convey philosophical messages to the departed.

Adinkra constitutes a system of verbal and visual imagery. The figurative and geometric adinkra symbols embody poetic messages, proverbs, and aphorisms. Some express the legendary history of the Akan people and others are cultural metaphors conveying multilayered meanings and profound truths. They provide a framework for moral virtues and lessons for a good life in epitomizing the Akan world view and their quest for global truth and righteousness. The 80 core adinkra symbols have been in use for about 200 years.

The adinkra Chain Link symbol conveys this rich variety of meanings related to unity and human relations. Symbolizing unity, responsibility, interdependence, and brotherhood, the linked geometric design relates to the concept of connection and cooperation. It relates human beings to the links of a chain, where the interdependence of each person (a link), determines the success of the community (the chain). The individual is an important link in society, a basic building block, for the collective good of the community. This organized association of individuals is good for the collective as well as individuals.

The Chain Link conveys Pamela's commitments to global citizenship, to her philosophy of nurturing the individual while creating collaborative communities, and to her vision for Mary Baldwin College, as we shall hear in her inaugural address shortly.


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