Okyeame (Linguists) is one of the key person in Chieftancy structure and also the one who bears the symbol of leadership in Ghanaian culture. The linguists ‘Okyeame’ or ‘Kyeame’ as they are popularly known. Linguists play a key role in cultural setting as they serve as the link between the chief and his people, especially in southern Ghana. Chiefs are held in high esteem and due to their sacrosanct nature, it is a bad omen for them to make mistakes so they tend to interact through the linguist who in turn “refines” the language to his subjects and vice versa. Okyeame is not simply a mouthpiece but an “interpreter” and generally regarded as a high ranking advisor to the chief.
The position of Okyeame is said to encompass a broad set of responsibilities, including mediation, judicial and political advocacy, as well as the preservation and interpretation of royal history. The Okyeame’s most visible public role is as the principal intermediary between the ruler and those who seek his counsel, leading to the popular characterisation of his profession as being that of a linguist. Drawing upon the vast knowledge and considerable oratorical and diplomatic skills, the Okyeame eloquently engages in verbal discourse on behalf of the chief and his visitors. He relays the words of visitors to the king and transmits the King’s response, often with poetic or metaphorical embellishment.
As a symbol of the Authority of the Clan or Chief he represents, the Okyeame bears the staff of the Clan or Chief as a sign of his authority to speak for the chief. The top of the staff usually has a carving which symbol represents the people or Clan and or a proverb or saying.
It known that the symbol on the staff of our clan is carried by the Okyeame.
Credit : Ghana Tourism Authority Nea onnim no sua a, ohu!