Contemporary Ghanaian Verbal Arts

In contemporary Ghanaian societies, various forms of verbal arts are practiced. The indigenous verbal art forms are practiced together with the contemporary ones though with little modification in their presentations and functions. Some of these verbal art forms include Storytelling, Oath swearing, Poetry recitals, Appellations etc.

Oath Swearing

In contemporary Ghanaian societies, oaths are taken by those who take up leadership positions in the communities and the nation as a whole. Presidents, members of parliament, assembly men and women take oaths concerning how diligent, true and efficient they would be in discharging their duties without embezzling state funds and be law abiding in all their dealings with the general public. In the traditional settings too, newly appointed kings and queen mothers also take up oaths that binds them with their newly assigned responsibilities.

In the law courts, accused persons and petitioners swear and take oaths that they would speak only the truth with respect to the cases for which they have been summoned. Usually, the oaths are taken with the individual concerned holding items like the Holy Bible or Quran, ceremonial swords, leadership staffs etc.

There are also some professions in Ghana today where newly appointed persons to the job are mandated to swear oaths of allegiance to serve the people. An example is the Hippocratic Oath sworn by new doctors, pharmacists and those who work in the medical field.

Oath wearing is supposed to bind the person who engages in it to be true, loyal and efficient to whatever course for which he or she swore.


Stories with contemporary themes or subjects are told to members of the general public during church programs, school activities, funeral and wedding ceremonies. They are usually narrative and descriptive in nature. They include stories about the birth of Christ, the journeys of Mohammed and other religious themes which are told at the churches and mosques. Stories of the bravery and courage displayed by our forefathers are narrated to the general public so that the members of the society can pick moral lessons on how to mimic their sterling examples. This usually takes place during visits to historic sites and museums, schools and at other social gatherings.

Stories that reflect the Ghanaian belief in life after death is usually narrated during funeral and mortuary services of deceased persons in the Ghanaian community. Moreover, stories of successful and unsuccessful marriages of some known figures in families and communities are narrated to newlyweds as a form of advice on how to play their roles effectively as husbands and wives in the marital union by parents and other well meaning people in the communities.


During state functions and other social gatherings in contemporary Ghana, appellations are said to welcome dignitaries and other important persons. Sometimes, the achievements, bravery, academic prowess and applaudable behavioural traits are narrated by a good orator who may be a grown up or usually young girls.

Also, appellations of historic figures who have passed on are sounded at occasions where their contributions are recalled and reckoned as basis for societal growth during talks, seminars and programs held for societal development in specific areas where their contribution is indispensable.