Speaker – Prof. Kofi Agyekum
Professor Kofi Agyekum is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ghana, Legon. He was the Acting Dean of the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, 2014-2021; Coordinator of the English-Akan Science Dictionary Project, 2010-2015; and Head of the Department of Linguistics, University of Ghana, 2010-2013. He holds a Diploma (First Class) from the School of Ghanaian Languages, Ajumako in 1982 and a Teachers’ Certificate-A from the Nkoranza Teacher Training College from where he graduated as a teacher in 1976.
Following the completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics in 1989, he went on to study for an MPhil in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and returned in 1996, to take up a lectureship position in the Linguistics Department, University of Ghana, while working towards a Ph.D., which he completed in 2003.
Long before the completion of his Ph.D., he had become widely known for his exceptional competence and fluency in the use of Akan as an effective language for public discourse and debate, from newspaper reviews to radio and TV commentary on major issues of public interest. Professor Kofi Agyekum was the first to introduce Newspaper Review in Akan at Radio Univers in April 1997. The program was titled Afis1m and it is still aired on Radio Univers, Legon. He was the host of Afis1m and Obiara Nka Bi programs on Radio Univers and has trained a lot of student-trainee journalists. He is a regular panelist on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Show.
Professor Agyekum has established himself as a scholar whose research and publications constitute an important point of reference on the Akan language in particular and Ghanaian culture as a whole with over 77 journal articles and book chapters, a number of book reviews, and 16 books. His latest books are Akan Kasadwini and Akan Body Part Expressions. He is an internationally recognized Akan and Ethnography of Communication scholar and has been quoted and consulted by several scholars and institutions at both local and international levels. He has also written 5 modules in linguistics for the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education University of Ghana, Legon.
Professor Agyekum is the recipient of many awards and honors for his achievements, including the University of Ghana’s Best Teacher Award (2007); National Award: Companion of the Volta, for Contributions to Public Education and the Media (2008); the Kwame Nkrumah Genius Award for the Use of Mother Tongue in the Media; and Humanitarian Awards Ghana (Honorary Division) in 2020.
His areas of Research are Ethnography of Communication, Linguistic Anthropology, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Language and Politics, Mother Tongue Education, Sociolinguistics, Stylistics, Semantics, Cognitive Semantics (Body Part Expressions) Translation, Terminology, Lexicology, Lexicography, and Oral Literature.
On the strength of his scholarship and outstanding work as an Akan Language educator and research scholar, a public intellectual with a wide repute as a principal consultant on Akan/Ghanaian language and culture, Prof. Agyekum was elected to the Fellowship of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on 08 July 2021.
Professor Kofi Agyekum is married to Mrs. Abenaa Akyaa-Agyekum and they are blessed with 4 young adults, two boys, and two girls.
Synopsis of Lecture
Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences Inaugural Lecture
Kasahuam-Kasafi in Ghanaian Media and Political Landscape
The objective of this inaugural lecture is to address issues about Kasahuam and Kasafi, ‘Polite and impolite language’ in the Media and Political (Politico-Mediatised Discourse) Landscape in contemporary Ghana. The lecture emphasises the use of appropriate language based on our Ghanaian Cultural heritage, cultural norms and values that engineer and provide a perfect atmosphere and some panacea for peace, social cohesion and national development. The lecture is meant to educate and create the awareness for political and media stakeholders to avoid and abhor the use of impolite and intemperate language, hate speech, invectives, lying, fabrications and denigration of personalities. These negative tendencies create divisiveness, tension, ethnic tribal and partisan conflicts and thereby threaten social cohesion, national unity and national development. We will finally recommend that we should look back at how we have stayed as one people with a common destiny and the respect for each other before and after independence. We should therefore not allow the few political and media practitioners to take us for a ride through the misuse of language for their own parochial gains, especially power and fame.
The topic of impoliteness and invectives, and the need for polite language in politics and the media has been lamented upon by many Ghanaians for about two decades now and we must have a solution. The outline of my lecture will be as follows:
· Abstract and Introduction
· Ghanaian communalistic and collectivist Life:
· Ghanaian cultural norms and values
· Political and Media Discourse Analysis (PMDA)
· Kasapa and Kasahuam– Politeness in language
· Political apology as ingredients of Polite language
· Kasafi, kasafo, eburo kasa, Impolite language
· Political Invectives and verbal taboos, discriminatory language,
· Political Duabɔ ‘Grievance Religious Imprecation’
· Lying, fabrications, innuendoes, defamation, dehumanization
· Recommendations and conclusion
Ghana has been severally referred to as the beacon of peace and hope especially in Sub-Saharan African. Yes it is; but how can we sustain this and even improve upon it? Two major actors and perpetrators that readily feature the in the peace-making agenda and movement, are politicians and media practitioners. Political and media activities in Ghana, especially in the 4th republic, have become more acrimonious and volatile and absolutely distanced from our rich cultural norms and heritage. The political rancours in the first and second parliament with multi-parties, NDC, NPP, PNC, CPP and some independent parliamentarians were minimal. Political and media discourse was not as volatile, polarlistic and divisive as we have now with only NDC and NPP and the “winner takes all syndrome”.
During the 1st and 2nd terms, there was no proliferation of the media landscape; the monopolistic media was dominated by the state media GBC radio and TV with a higher level of professionalism and patriotism. There are now hundreds of media houses made up of the print and the electronic. The electronic (radio and TV) are mostly private stations. Some of them are owned and manned by politicians, and this tendency makes the synergy between politics and media stronger. It is thus not surprising that most of the kasafi, kasafo, kasaburo, kasahunu, ‘impolite language’ full of hate and incendiary language occur in the politically owned radio and TV stations and newspaper houses. New politically oriented stations are established annually as the mouthpieces of the two major parties, the NDC and NPP. They follow the same pattern of the overuse of invectives and impolite language to tarnish the image of their opponents.
With the advent of social media, the waters have been muddied the more because it is the outlet where more serious intemperate language and fabrication are unleashed at politicians, non-politicians including the security agencies, academics, chiefs, and the clergy. To be described with intemperate language, all that you need is to speak the truth that will not favour one of the parties.
We recommend that politicians, media practitioners including the political owners of the FM stations, the journalist take a central stage in the use of polite and peaceful harmonious language. Hosts of political and media talk shows as well as the invited guests must show a higher sense of linguistic decorum. The monitoring and regulatory bodies should create a strong awareness about the need for polite language and the dangers that crop up with the use of impolite language. The agencies are National Media Commission, Ghana Journalist Association. the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Communication, the National Commission on Culture, the National Peace Council, and to a larger extent ECOWAS.
We will conclude that media practitioners and politicians should be conversant with the unique Ghanaian customs, cultural patterns, politeness systems, taboos, norms, and ethics in social interaction. There should be workshops and seminars on peace, politeness, and political invectives organized by the NCCE, National Peace Council, religious organizations and Councils, CSOs, and NGOs. They should aim at educating politicians and the media on the effects of linguistic impoliteness and political invectives and the benefits of linguistic politeness.
View programme brochure online
Download the programme brochure in PDF
Watch the Lecture online