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.
Ivor AGYEMAN-DUAH is a development specialist and former special advisor on international development cooperation to the Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor. He is a visiting Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg and author and co-editor of, Pilgrims of the Night: Development Challenges and Opportunities in Africa, Africa – A Miner’s Canary into the Twenty-First Century – Essays on Economic Governance and An Economic History of Ghana- Half a Century of Challenges and Progress.
Agyeman-Duah serves as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa and is a Member of the International Advisory Board of the University of Oxford’s African Studies Centre.
He has served as visiting Research Fellow at the Exeter College of the University of Oxford and the Hutchins Institute at Harvard University. He holds graduate degrees from the London School of Economics, the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and the University of Wales.