Chanting YorùbÁkan: A Stylistic Analysis of Jími Ṣólańkẹ́’s Ọ̀nà là in “The Path”
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ABSTRACT: Ralph MacDonald’s song The Path is a poignant narrative of the story of enslaved Africans from Africa to the Diaspora and back again through music. Jími Ṣólańkẹ́’s poetic verse that opens the song is a creative transformation of arguably the most famous Akan drum text Ɔkwan Atware Asuo–interpreted by Ralph MacDonald into U.S. English–then re-translated from English into the Yorùbá language performance of the poem Ọ̀nà Là. Ṣólańkẹ́ parallels and transforms the Akan text in a way that makes it universally Pan-African anticipating future movements in African arts which will transcend pre-existing and colonial divisions between African people. In this paper, a stylistic analysis will be presented of the literary and oratory tools Ṣólańkẹ́ uses to infuse the Yorùbá language text with its own unique Pan-African character and relevance while staying true to the spirit of the other texts–literary and historical–with which it is in conversation. These are stylistic tools that encapsulate the greater narrative of the song and of Africans in transition returning forward, back to our way.