The art of storytelling: a tool for the socio-cultural development of the youth of Ashanti

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The purpose of this thesis is to prove that storytelling used to be a powerful method of informal education in Asante. Some people view traditional stories as a collection of funny stories meant for children or merely for entertainment but there is no doubt that there are qualities, values and virtues in Asante’s stories and that they play an invaluable role in the development of their youth. The major theme running through this study is that storytelling has been used to justify rituals of culture with the intent of educating the youth towards acculturation. This is because the Asante have a saying that ‘tete wɔ bi kyerɛ’ to wit ‘the past has a lot to teach the present generation’. The Asante are therefore convinced that storytelling is still relevant to the solution of today’s problems, especially that of the moral decadence of the youth. Thus the present or each future generation stands to benefit from the culture of their ancestors as captured in stories. It has been established that storytelling as practiced by Akan-speaking people of Ghana possesses aesthetic qualities and artistic functions that qualify it to be classified as art and the storyteller as an artist who uses words as his medium of expression. Even among the Asante, it is not everybody who can tell a story because a storyteller requires artistic skills similar to that of an expert painter, dancer or sculptor. Indeed to be a good storyteller one requires imagination and inspiration. The thesis helps us to understand how the ancient Asante, even though he may have been illiterate, possessed these qualities abundantly. The thesis therefore proves beyond doubt what has been mentioned already, that storytelling in Asante is an art. Storytelling has both performing and literary art qualities. It, therefore, helps the lay person to appreciate the fact that there are different forms of art but at the end of it all he play the same role - they inspire, move, satisfy entertain and help in the appreciation of the ethos and soul of a people. It is hoped that the material unearthed shall be of relevance and value to the Ghanaian society as a whole, that is if the nation goes back to one of the powerful tools used by our leaders. The thesis makes it clear that the future of STORYTELLING can be relied on.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy degree in African Art, 2002