The Ethnosemantics and Proverbs of ohia, ‘‘poverty’’ in Akan1

  • Kofi Agyekum University of Ghana
Keywords: Akan, poverty, language ideology, proverbs, marginalisation


This paper examines the concept of ohia, ‘poverty’ in the Akan sociocultural worldview. These include factors that cause it, the people who suffer from poverty and the implications of their condition. It identifies social, cultural, individualistic and fatalistic sources of poverty. The paper is discussed employing the theoretical framework of language ideology, which reflects people’s beliefs about their language and how they justify the language structure and practical uses. To understand the Akan concept of poverty, one must resort to their cultural beliefs, past experiences, perception, worldview and social structures. The paper employed the qualitative method, using interviews for the primary data. The secondary data was collected from Akan highlife songs, books on proverbs and oral and written literature books. The major finding of this paper is that poverty in Akan is best viewed from Akan language ideology and proverbs. It is also worth noting that despite the negativity of poverty, some proverbs console the poor, and stress that poverty is not the only adversity as other conditions in life are more stressful than poverty.

Author Biography

Kofi Agyekum, University of Ghana
Professor, Department of Linguistics

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2458-746X
print ISSN: 0855-1502