A. A. Anti’s ‘obeede: an english translation

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This Project Work is a translation of a text from Akan into the English Language. It includes research into the etymology of some names and expressions in the text and their significance in this literary work. Knowledgeable artists have written a lot of books in English. These books cover many disciplines such as History, Government, Economics, stories in the form of drama, novel and poetry and the like. Many of these texts have been translated into various languages including Akan. There are similar knowledgeable artists who have written books in Akan. They write with the socio-cultural, political and religious knowledge of Ghanaian life in general and that of the Akan in particular. These books should be studied by Ghanaians for their social and cultural significance: but they are usually restricted to a small group of people who can read and understand the Akan language. This unfortunate situation has come about as a result of the general lack of interest in learning to read and write Ghanaian vernacular languages. The use of English Language as the official language can be of immense help for the dissemination of vital information ‘hidden’ in the Akan text to more people in the Ghanaian society, since Akan is the widest spoken language in Ghana. It is against this background that the researcher has embarked on this project to translate an Akan nouvelle, “Obeede”, into the English Language. Speakers or learners of a particular language are always anxious to discover the etymology or the original meaning of some words and expressions to facilitate their study of that language. Speakers or students who seek such competence benefit immensely from such knowledge. In view of this, the dissertation discusses the etymology of some names and expressions in this Akan text. The sources of information on the etymological study have been selected resource persons and the selected Akan literary text, “Obeede” This translation is a Comparison of two languages and it is therefore thematically within the genres and forms acceptable for the categories of Comparative Literature. Beyond this, however, the project also makes accessible to a wider world of readers a little known but clearly major work of literature in Akan. Many artists have written useful books in both Akan and English, but unfortunately, they do not often translate their texts into any one of the two major languages mentioned above. Neither do they provide etymology or meaning of the names and expressions they use in their books. A few texts have glossaries, which explain the meaning of some words in their books but such words, and expressions mostly receive superficial treatment, thus glossing over their significance for the texts in which they are used. This modest research is an attempt to look at some of the problems that make for the inadequacy and undetailed nature of such translated materials. It contains some ideas that may be useful to students and users. The translated text, “Obeede” was written by A. A. Anti, and published in 1960 by the Bureau of Ghana Languages, Accra. Anti writes about the religious beliefs and the socio-cultural life of the Akans. He traces the Akan belief in the ancestral home ‘Asamando’ or ‘Amamprobi’ which is represented by one KYE. He goes on to portray the traditional professions of hunting and woodwork engaged in by Boakye and the slave trade of which Dkoampa is the victim. Any reader who engages this book will discover the immense knowledge that is hidden within its depths. THE AUTHOR The author of the novel “Qbeede” is a Guan. The novelist is called Mr. A. A. Anti. He was born in 1920 in his hometown, Anum near Boso in the Eastern Region. Mr. Anti had his elementary school education in Anum Presbyterian Primary and Middle Schools. He started his career as a professiona! teacher after he graduated from the Presbyterian Teacher Training College at Akropong-Akwapim in the Eastern Region in 1941. The novelist married Miss. Comfort Okraku also a Guan from Abiriw near AkropongAkwapim, in 1945. Mrs. Comfort Okraku Anti was also a professional teacher. They had six children of whom two were boys and the rest girls. The author became a language teacher in the Ghanata Secondary School at Dodowa in the Dangbe West District of the Greater Accra region, from 1959 to 1964. He taught the Akwapim Twi. Mr. A. A. Anti has contributed immensely to the development of Akan literature. His two books — “The Ancient Ashanti Kings” and ‘Obeede’, in English and Akwapim Twi respectively, have their theme on slavery. In his book, “The Ancient Ashanti Kings”, Mr. Anti states that clearly, the much- vaunted military might of Asante can be construed as an instrument of colonialist exploitation. Of principal interest to us here is that the King’s Court appropriated a kind of booty. A. A. Anti talks about the sources of kingly income. The Asante King, according to the author, was permitted by customary law to trade in slaves and natural products. He would sometimes promote deserving persons to positions of higher status, but only in return for the payment of a fee of 8 ounces of gold. He would advance some gold to a prospective office holder to trade with, and the person’s promotion would depend on how much return he was able to make on the capital advanced (Anti correctly labels this as usury). The King would make manifest his willingness to bend the course of justice in favour of any person who was prepared to “buy” (without insisting on taking away or indeed even seeing) any of the special sheep domesticated and kept in the royal pens for this purpose. Such sheep could of course be “sold” many times over. What a gentle from of bribery! The author’s focus on this disturbing aspect of our history is prevalent in his novel, “Obeede” and it gives way to an extravagant display of the creative imagination as t moves freely from history into myth through legend and back again to the ordinariness of daily routine in life.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Languages, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature, 2002