Bu Me Bɛ: Proverbs of the Akans

Bu Me Bε: Proverbs of the Akans is the most extensive bi-lingual Twi Proverbs Dictionary published since JG Christaller’s A Collection of 3600 Twi Proverbs (1879). Kwame Anthony Appiah’s Introduction demonstrates how these proverbs can be interpreted within the tested and contested theories of meaning and literary production to show how they compare with philosophical musings from ancient Greece to England. To understand these proverbs, one needs to understand the culture from which they come. The matrilineal culture traces the familial lineage from the mother’s side hence the Akan saying that; ‘a child may resemble the father, but he has a family’ – the family being a reference to one’s mother and others within the mother’s bloodline.

This is invaluable. Our languages cannot grow as literary languages unless we also develop tools that will enable their effective use. Our languages must be in dialogue with not only the languages of Europe but also those of Africa and Asia. This dictionary is an important step in that direction. – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Director, International Centre for Writing and Translation, University of California

If language is a window to reality, then Appiah’s Bu Me Be may be justly described as an opening to an entire universe. This collection will be useful not only for linguists, but for anyone that takes Akan culture seriously, from anthropologists to historians, to cultural critics and even to modern-day product advertisers. It is a veritable treasure trove. – Ato Quayson, Director, Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies, University of Toronto

An invaluable collection of some 7000 proverbs that speak to the depth and nuance of Akan and Asante life, thought, belief and social organisation. – Emmanuel Kwaku Acheampong, Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Key Selling Points

  • The bi-lingual arrangement makes this dictionary unique and user-friendly to non-Akan speakers. A specialist African language text that will be of interest to academics and students on African history and language courses.
  • An informed collection of over 7000 proverbs published over a century after Christaller’s book of 3600 proverbs was first published.
  • Appiah’s Introduction contextualises the nuanced meaning of the proverbs to reveal the wit and wisdom of the Akan language and how it compares with other world languages.

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