The Sɩsaala Dirge: a Critical Analysis

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This dissertation is a modest attempt at examining the literary and cultural backgrounds pertaining to the performance of the Sɩsaala dirge. The principal objective of the study is to pursue the aesthetic, cultural, moral, and socio-political evidence that the Sɩsaala dirge, like many Ghanaian dirges, does not only provide the appropriate platform for mourning the dead, but that it also poetically reiterates cultural, moral, social, artistic, and historical values. While the Sɩsaala dirge may be distinct from other local dirges in terms of how it is executed and who participates in its performance; and though its continuous rendition is faced with problems in the form of some negative influences from the Christian and Moslem religions, Western lifestyle, ignorance on the part of the Sɩsaala youth about the positive values of their dirges, lack of unity among poet-cantors, and the systematic disintegration of extended family values; it nonetheless celebrates national values such as respect for the aged, motherhood, motherliness, industriousness, moral correctness, and verbal creativity. These are values that transcend ethnic cultures and can therefore be used to further promote national unity and identity. Of equal importance is the ability of the dirge to serve as a medium for poet-cantors to pay homage to the “word”, and to further prove that “orality” is not the mere absence of writing but it is a system that is suis generis through which part of the trajectory of human development can always be traced.
A thesis submitted to the Department of English, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy