So, What Is the Story Behind This Name?: Royal Praise-Poetry As an Oral Mythic Narrative
The Dagomba praise singing genre of northern Ghana employs figurative language to recapture historical events in the political life of the people. A reigning chief occupies a central, pivotal position in the daily life of the community and is seen as a reincarnation of his ancestors, whose exploits are used to praise him or her. Royal praises rely on stories which depict supernatural ancestral achievements. This piece looks at the metaphors and mythical elements to be found in the language used to praise a chief during a social event in Tamale, Ghana, and focuses on the mythical elements in the praise song, based on real historical events. This happens in the context of a revered epic tradition at a Dagomba King’s palace.
The praise names drummers sing or use to address their patrons at ceremonies are abridged historical mythic narratives, taken from the myths and legends of the Dagbamba (also called Dagombas) of Northern Ghana. The narration assumes mythical dimensions and religious beliefs and practices are woven into the telling of the tale.