Have you ever wondered why did West African poets compose praise poems? Why did they envelop praising notes in their writing? If not, this article will highlight some of the reasons behind their remarkable efforts. West African poets who composed praise poems had several reasons to do so. As in other places and periods, people wanted to be remembered after they died, so it was essential to make sure that their names were handed down through the generations by people who would remember them for something special about them, such as their talent at poetry or their philanthropy toward others in the community.
Additionally, the more praise poems a poet could compose, the more likely they were to be recognized by the social group as an important poet and leader, giving them greater access to resources in the society necessary to survive. The answer to this question may seem obvious, but it’s more complex than you might think. The main reason poets in West Africa wrote praise poems was because that’s what the social structure required of them; after all, their society had a peculiar sense of hierarchy and order, and praise poems were the best way to make sure that social order stayed intact.
West African poets were responsible for writing praise poems to praise or worship the king or ruler in their region. A praise poem was created to acknowledge a ruler’s accomplishments and demonstrate loyalty to that person. These poems were often orally composed and recited, as opposed to being written down, and were also performed before royalty on certain occasions. Since people adore and follow their ruler religiously that is why it is easy to understand that Why did West African poets compose praise poems?
What Are Praise Poems?
Are praise poems merely old-fashioned, or are they still relevant in today’s world? The entire purpose of a praise poem is to celebrate an individual who has impacted society. However, there isn’t just one type of praise poem. Instead, there are many different types and styles of praise poems, with each type being dedicated to a different topic or type of person.
Before understanding how poets compose praise poems helps to know what they are. Simply put, they can be described as carefully crafted songs that honor specific individuals. And while most traditional poetry focuses on telling stories and conveying messages through words and images, praise poems take a different approach—they tell stories through emotions and sentiments.
Why Did the Ghanaian People Write Praise Poetry?
Before European colonization, many Ghanaian poets wrote poems to praise their kings. Though traditional praise poems were mostly used during ceremonies, some historians believe they served a more practical purpose: they created a means of uniting neighboring tribes. The composer would write poems describing another tribe’s leaders and their allies. After hearing them perform, members of other tribes would be inclined to join in alliances with those kingdoms.
Modern-day praise poems maintain some elements of their historical counterparts; one recent example is South Africa, where artists composed songs praising Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu after apartheid ended in 1994. By singing these songs on national television and radio stations, entertainers made those men heroes for all South Africans regardless of an ethnic group or cultural background.
What Were They Writing About?
Unlike other forms of poetry (e.g., love poems, odes to wine, and roses), praise poems aren’t necessarily about a person or object. Instead, they are usually written by those in positions of power—the rulers and nobles of society—to describe what they want their subjects to do; in that way, they share some similarities with proverbs. In addition to representing an ideal leader, often, praise poems were used to impress merchants visiting from foreign lands; as such, many were written from a bird’s-eye view instead of focusing on someone specific like a love poem would.
I hope this article would come up to the reader’s expectation, and it would have done justice to the question, why did West African poets compose praise poems?