Asante, the dialect of Akan spoken in the Ashanti region of Ghana, is a tonal language, meaning roughly that the intonation of a word will change its meaning, even if the pronunciation is otherwise the same. One consequence is that verbal messages can be conveyed by highly skilled drumming, as in the following example…
Is the Chief greater than the Hunter?
An Akan song from Ghana, sung by professional hunters. The song’s argument is that hunters, with all their skills and bravery, are greater than chiefs, who depend on hunters for their luxuries.
Is the chief greater than the hunter?
Arrogance! Hunter? Arrogance!…
Valiant Owusu by Koramma
An Akan dirge from Ghana. Owusu was a Mass Education Officer, killed in a car accident in 1952. The dirge is sung by his former landlady, a trader called Koramma, who mourns him as if he were her brother.
The stranger on whom the citizen of the town depends,
The Warrior’s Homecoming
An Akan poem from Ghana, sung by women in praise of the returning warrior. The camel blanket and the sandals on which Agyei is described as treading are metaphors for the men who are carrying him in triumph on their shoulders.
He is coming, he is coming,
Treading along on camel blanket in triumph.