Speech Surrogates of Africa: A Study of the Fante Mmensuon
AbstractVarious forms of communication based on sounds produced by instruments are common in many African societies. Among these, the slit gong and drums are the most popular and the most widely used as speech surrogates in Africa (Nketia, 1971: 700). With the introduction of participant-observation research orientation to African scholarship, new information is being discovered and structured to fill existing gaps in knowledge. The 'mmen esoun ' (also spelt 'mmensoun ') (meaning Seven Horns) is a speech surrogate used among the Pante of Ghana. Mmensoun has the dual capability of imitating the speaking voice and, simultaneously, serving as a musical instrument in a performance. As a speech surrogate, it functions as an effective and powerful instrument for communication. This paper introduces the communicative sounds of the mmensuon within the cultural system of the Fante, and offers a framework within which the instrument could be further investigated.
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