Speaking for the Chief

Okyeame and the Politics of Akan Royal Oratory
Kwesi Yankah
Distribution: World
Publication date: 06/22/1995
ISBN: 978-0-253-11266-8
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... offers readers profound insights and useful information on the power of the word in African societies... " —Research in African Literatures

I would recommend Speaking for the Chief not only to students of West African culture, by whom it should be greatly welcomed, but also to anyone intersted in issues surrounding specific genres of discourse in relation to cultural organization." —Journal of American Folklore

Drawing on the interdisciplinary modes of sociolinguistics, political anthropology, and the ethnography of speech, Yankah allows the reader to hear a little-known and even less studied ‘voice’ integral to Akan chiefly power. This book deserves the serious attention of Akan and Africanist scholars alike." —Choice

... an unprecedented opportunity to understand West African oratory from the point of view of a native Akan speaker who is also a gifted linguist and ethnographer.... [Yankah] shows with elegance the connections between verbal strategies and the cultural organization of West African social systems." —Alessandro Duranti

This study is clearly important in ethnographic terms... But it equally throws new light on more general aspects of verbal and political processes.... will stimulate both specialists and students far beyond the confines of its specific ethnographic setting." —American Anthropologist

... an immensely valuable book which deserves a wide and appreciative readership." —Journal of African History

Author Bio

KWESI YANKAH is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ghana. He is the author of The Proverb in the Context of Akan Rhetoric: A Theory of Proverb Praxis.

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. Okyeame: A Theoretical Framework
3. Mediation: The Evolution of Royal Diplomacy
4. Oratory in Akan Society
5. Women and Rhetoric
6. Orator and Chief: The Politics of Immunity
7. "Listening So The Chief May Hear": The Circuit of Formal Talk
8. Interpreting the Chief’s Word
9. Without His Patron’s Voice

Epilogue: The King’s Exit
Glossary of Akan Words