Ecocriticism and environmental knowledge of Asante oral traditional poetry

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dc.contributor.author Asante-Darko, Kwaku
dc.date.accessioned 2008-03-07T12:03:52Z
dc.date.available 2008-03-07T12:03:52Z
dc.date.issued 2008-03-07T12:03:52Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/4603
dc.description.abstract ABSTRACT This thesis deals with the theme of the environmental worth and the contemporary developmental relevance of traditional oral poetry. The specific subject matter is the worth of the traditional oral poetry of Asante/Ashanti (one of the groups of the Akan cultural group in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Togo in West Africa) and its relevance as a source of inspiration for the raising of environmental consciousness. The premise of the thesis is that there existed within traditional oral literature some environmental knowledge which responded to the needs of traditional society. The knowledge in this literature can be revamped and harnessed to help direct the environmental aspect of current developmental approaches. For that reason, the thesis takes as its point of departure and primary data some traditional Asante proverb-poems. These proverbpoems had the status and role of myths engendered by society to fashion and guide humans’ interaction with Nature. This assimilation between proverb-poem and society’s environmental precepts implied that society had (consciously or unconsciously) cast the proverb-poem in the role of an environmental preceptor to guide society. Beliefs about Nature and the practices thereof which are enshrined in these proverbpoems, therefore, contained the knowledge which guided the use of natural resources and hence the direction of development and sustainability in traditional Asante society. Invariably, the environmental outlook of society, its values and interests, its projections and directions, and its development, all came to be informed by the knowledge contained in this myth/proverb-poem. It is pertinent to note that the type of environmental demands required by contemporary Asante is reminiscent of the sustainability which oral literature helped traditional Asante to attain. This comparison is validated for two main reasons. The first is the fact that today development in perceived as a shift from the prioritization of the military security of states and regimes to an emphasis on seven cardinal areas which complement state and regime security. These are - Economic security, Food security, Health security, Environmental security, Personal security, Community security, and Political security. This thesis focuses on the environmental aspect. Second, development focuses on exploring local alternative approaches to the problem of environmental degradation. In this regard, the thesis argues that aspects of the manner in which cultural communities express their relationship with Nature is recoverable through a literary study of the images and belief system found in their rendition of Nature. These images, their perceptions, and the attitude they express toward Nature, offer a framework within which to evaluate possible culture-specific solutions to contemporary environmental problem. It is for the above reason that this work evaluates a selection of traditional Asante proverb-poems to find out the extent to which they served to mediate environmental consciousness and Nature conservation in traditional Asante. In order to arrive at a more reliable conclusion, this investigation first evaluates the ways in which institutions and practices such as Asante political system, the nature of their myths and taboos, their impact on their environment, their relation with colonial environmentalism, the nature and the archival function of their poetry and their entire cosmovision can be said to resemble or reflect the manner in which the Asante formulated the relationship between humans on one hand and flora, fauna, and landscape on the other. It is revealed that their predilection for co-existence with nature advocated in these literary texts largely resembled the normative values and institutional structures of traditional Asante community. Using Structuralism and Ecocriticism the work presents each persona of the various proverb-poems as opposing some prevailing attitudes to nature by critiquing, teaching, encouraging, condemning, exalting the audience to perceive nature as kin, nature as a beneficent agent to appreciate, nature as a danger to avoid, and nature as a domain to which humans are accountable. The thesis also advances the opinion that those attitudes which sustained environmental viability could be reworked and adapted to feed into the creation of a mind-sets which can enhance human perceptions about Nature today and contribute to the search for solutions to environmental degradation. In addition to the above anthropo-developmental dimension, the analysis reveals some specificities of the literary analysis of oral environmental texts of traditional societies. It equally shows the nature of the peculiar challenges faced in the environmental arena by developmental objectives. The work is, therefore, inspired by the need to contribute ideas and perceptions that can eventually feed into the debates around solutions toward the solving of environmental problems. Thus, the work seeks to do this by using literary approaches to highlight and draw on traditional knowledge to enrich the present search for indigenous ways of conceptualizing human-Nature relations and of solving current environmental problems. en
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dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject ecocriticism en
dc.subject environmental knowledge en
dc.subject Asante en
dc.subject Oral poetry en
dc.title Ecocriticism and environmental knowledge of Asante oral traditional poetry en
dc.type Thesis en


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