The artistry of Akan oratory: a study of selected speeches delivered in Ashanti royal courts

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To say that the skilful control of words is highly valued in all societies in general and in Akan in particular is an axiom As a native Akan speaker, a literature student, and mere importantly someone who is interested in listening to speakers in the chic t s court, this stud\ on the aesthetics of Akan oratory is the writers contribution to existing knowledge on the subject. It is unfortunate to see how intellectuals find it difficult to express themselves in their own mother tongues, let alone speak artistically. The cherished art of oratory is dying out fast and therefore this study will go a long way to create awareness of what modern Akans are missing as they continue to ignore some good aspects of the culture of the Akan people. In the chiefs’ courts as I listen in good speakers who are able to persuade their audience, I keep asking myself what techniques they use which make people enjoy their speeches? This work attempts to survey oratory from classical time to the present day drawing out important similarities and peculiarities to orator among the Akans. Sample speeches from identifiable individuals in the chiefs’ courts have been recorded and translated into English. With the help of background research, the sample texts have been critically appraised within their contexts, showing how the embedded literary devices affect the meaning of the message transmitted. The study concludes that both verbal and visual artistry are employed to persuade the audience, It is therefore necessary for speakers to learn to use appropriate literary devices if oratory, which is highly valued in the Akan cultural milieu, is to be sustained.
A thesis presented to the Department of Languages, College of Arts and Social Sciences in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Award Of An M.A. Decree In Comparative Literature, 2001