Living the corporeal plague: A phenomenological explanation of metaphors used by President Akufo-Addo

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Department of Humanities


In this paper, we discuss the rhetorical utility of metaphors in constituting truth and reality. To do this, we take President Akufo-Addo’s speech which declared Ghana’s first lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic as our rhetorical artifact and analyze the metaphors in it. We found the dominant use of metaphors of war, economics, mobility, and collective responsibility. We explain these metaphors through a phenomenological methodology that asserts that (1) all essences or truth are located in subjective experience; (2) the truth is an outcome of intersubjective understanding; (3) intersubjective understanding progresses towards truth through expression (Couture, 1998); and (4) human beings are embodied beings. We deduced from the analysis that the Ghanaian audience of Akufo-Addo’s speeches came to embody qualities that did not allow them to fully grasp the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The metaphors, therefore, played an important role in defining the pandemic and contributed to the failure of the interventions that the government instituted. We suggest that metaphors are immanent in both cognition and embodied activity, and they constitute a means of understanding how human subjectivities are framed within communicative acts.

Publication Title

Communicative Perspectives on COVID-19 in Ghana: At the Intersection of Culture, Science, Religion and Politics