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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Performativity of Akan Libations: An Ethnopoetic Construction of Reality
Author:Adjaye, Joseph K.
Periodical:Ghana Studies
Geographic term:Ghana
oral poetry
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:Among the Akan of Ghana, the most sacred form of worship is the pouring of libations known as 'mpaee' (prayer) or more generally as 'nsaguo'(pouring a drink). These rituals are an integral part of Akan culture and the officiant invokes the Almighty, a pantheon of various deities and the ancestors (the last two reasons why missionaries fulminated against the practice). In this article the main aim of the author is to examine the accompaying texts (of which he presents two by master performers) and see to what extent they affect the experiential engagement of those participating. He sees this as consisting of two sides: cognitive and evocative. All such performances are approached from a pre-given cultural episteme, namely they recreate cultural understandings about the nature of human relations with the invisible forces of the spiritual world. These are played out, conceptualized and realized. At the same time these performances resonate with another type of experiential engagement, the evocative. This corresponds to emergent meaning, particularizing specific problems or events. So the systems are both closed and open, seemingly static yet dynamic, objective and reflexive, uniform and contradictory. They are inersections of meta-reality and micro-reality. The libator interacts with the audience in a way which is both collective and individual. Although the libations may seem immutable, the individual performers and the performances do change. Libations are rife with polysemic signifiers and potent meaning. They are not mere repetitions of time-worn traditions as hermeneutics would see them. The vitality and dynamics of the past are preserved while trying to make sense of the present. Bibliogr. [ASC Leiden abstract]