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1 HISTORY, RELIGION AND PERFORMING YEVE: EWE DANCE DRUMMING, SONGS AND RITUALS AT AVE DAKPA, GHANA By SAMUEL ELIKEM KWAME NYAMUAME A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULF ILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Samuel Elikem Kwame Nyamuame
3 To my Son (Worlasi), lovely wife (Allison) and my parents (Mr & Mrs Nyam uame)
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I want to thank the Almighty God for His protection and guidance throughout my studies. I want to express a special gratitude to my wonderful parents Frederick Kwadzo Besa Nyamuame and Gifty Aku Nyamuame for all your support and encouragement through prayers, finances and difficult moments. Although I am several thousands of miles away, you always call and make sure that I am safe. I also want to express my sincere thanks to my wonderful and lovely wife Allison Thompson Nyamuame f or her incredible and countless support. It was your powerful words of encouragements in all aspects of life that brought me this far. I love you and God will continue to bless you. To my son Ethan Frederick Worlasi Kwabla Nyamuame I say thank you for all your distractions that redirected my focus to work extra hard to this end. Your irresistible smiles, funny and extraordinary entertainments help release lots of tension and bring so much happiness in my life. I also want to thank my very good friend and br other, Isaac Hirt Manheimer and his fiance Gloria Dorwu Hirt Manheimer for everything they have done for in Ghana and the United States. During my frustrating moments in Ghana you came at the right time and change d things around. You are indeed a wonderfu l and caring brother. I also want to express my greatest appreciation to my mother in law Cyndi Thompson and father in law Mark Thompson for all their sacrifices traveling between Oregon and Florida to help with baby Ethan so that I could get some work don e. Thank you for everything you have contributed to making sure I have safe and sound mind to focus on my dissertation. I dearly love you and words cannot express my appreciations. To Joshua Neumann and especially Lindsey Neumann I do not know how to rewar d you for everything you have done for my family. You and your husband are such incredible
5 people and we owe you so much. I pray that God will reward you abundantly. Also to my special Gainesville family; Abbey Chokera, Duncan Wambugu, Sheila Hugi, Sebasti en, Aboubarcar Soumah, Mohamed DaCosta and Ghana Gainesville society I say thank you. I want to say a big thank you to the head chief of Ave Dakpa Togbi Nyamekor IV and the Assembly Man Patrick Ahiabu for opening their arms and allowing me to conduct my r esearch in Ave Dakpa. I say thank you deep down my heart. Thank you Mr. Awunyo for allowing me stay in your house throughout my entire research. I am deeply indebted to my principal informant, Agbayiza Agbelifufu and his two sons, Togbinye and Tsale for ta king me through complex rituals and spiritually supporting me through many activities in the Yeve cult. In addition, I would like to extend my appreciation to the entire membership of the Agbelifufu Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa, ritual experts, dancers, singers and all the skillful drummers who contributed to my existing knowledge on Yeve. To my research assistants Togbinye Agbelifufu and Matthew Fianu (aka Thomori) may God bless you for everything you have contributed to the success of this dissertation. I also want to express my sincere thanks to colleagues and friends in the academia especially my mentor the late Professor Willie Anku and others such as Professors Daniel Avorgbedor, Kofi Agawu, George Dor, Kwasi Ampene, C. K Ladzekpo, Kofi Gbolonyo, Gavin Webb David Locke, Eric Charry, Royal Hartigan, Abraham Adzenyah, Helen Mensah, James Burns, Paschal Younge, Johnson Kemeh, Kongo Zabana, Nissio Fiagbedzi, John Collins, Datey Kumordzi, Modesto Amegago, Habib Iddrisu, Sylvanus Koshie Kuwor, Newman Asare, Patie nce Kwakwa and Oh! Nii
6 Sowah among others who have encouraged me throughout my studies and supported me in many ways until now. I want to thank New Life Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana in Adenta and Whuti Anloga respectiv ely for their prayers and support given me. I would especially like to thank my advisor, Professor Larry Crook who has been more than a father and was there for me throughout my joyful and distressed moments. I also want to express my gratitude to the r est of my entire committee members namely Professors Russell Robinson, Kenneth Broadway, Welson Tremura, Joann Frosch and Abdoulaye Kane for their tireless contribution to make sure I am on track, I say AYEKOO! Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the University of Florida, Center for African Studies, College of Fine Arts and especially the School of Music and School of Theater and Dance for all the opportunities that have helped shape me professionally and intellectually for the task a head. I say thank you and I am proud to be a GATOR. To everyone who has contributed in anyway possible to finish this piece of work I say thank you and may God richly bless you. I say AYEKOO!!!
7 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 11 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 12 LIST OF OBJECTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 16 LIST OF TERMS ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 17 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 21 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTIO N ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 23 Aims and Objectives ................................ ................................ ............................... 23 Personal Relationship to the Rese arch Topic ................................ ......................... 26 Problems of Research into Ewe Traditions ................................ ............................. 30 Why Ave Dakpa? Frustrations of a Native Researcher A Personal Experience .. 38 Literature Reviews on Ewe and Yeve Rituals and Musical Practices ..................... 42 Field Research and Methodology ................................ ................................ ........... 51 Field Research and Location ................................ ................................ ............ 52 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 53 Participant Observation ................................ ................................ .................... 58 Restrictions and Ethics ................................ ................................ ..................... 60 Languages and Dialects ................................ ................................ ................... 62 Research Assistants ................................ ................................ ......................... 63 Data Transcription, Transliteration, Analyses and Interpretation ...................... 64 Equipment ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 66 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 66 Chapter Overviews ................................ ................................ ................................ 67 2 HISTORICA L BACKGROUND OF AVE DAKPA ................................ .................... 70 Location and People ................................ ................................ ............................... 70 Migration Narratives of Ave Dakpa ................................ ................................ ......... 72 An Invocation of a State Ave Dakpa ................................ ................................ ....... 77 Belief System and Religious Practices ................................ ................................ .... 80 Christianity ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 81 Islam ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 82 Traditional Religion ................................ ................................ ........................... 83 Occupation ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 85 Social Events and Celebrations ................................ ................................ .............. 87
8 Social Musical Traditions and Dance Clubs ................................ ............................ 89 Mekamio ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 90 Adzida ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 91 Jama ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 91 Novinenyo ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 92 Ayisu and Afram ................................ ................................ ............................... 93 Atrima ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 93 Amesikpe and its Festival ................................ ................................ ....................... 93 Language/Dialect ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 99 Education Schools/Institutions ................................ ................................ ........... 100 3 THE YEVE CULT AND ITS RITUALS PART ONE ................................ ............ 104 Yeve The Cult and Its Origin ................................ ................................ .............. 104 Yevekpor The Cult House ................................ ................................ ................... 108 Yeve Voduwo Deities of the Yeve Cult ................................ .............................. 112 Membership ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 113 Example One Hutor Sofeda ................................ ................................ .......... 116 Example Two Tsale Agbelifufu ................................ ................................ .... 118 Example Three Agbayiza Agbelifufu ................................ ........................... 120 Initiation Rites of Yeve Members ................................ ................................ .......... 122 Categories of Initiates and Hierarchy in the Yeve Cult ................................ .......... 127 Kpokpor ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 128 Vodusi ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 129 Avle ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 129 Husunu ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 131 Minawo ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 134 Midawo ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 135 Hugbono ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 136 Yeve Colors and Symbolism ................................ ................................ ................. 137 4 YEVE CULT AND ITS RITUALS PART TWO ................................ .................... 141 Adadada ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 141 Adadada Process ................................ ................................ ........................... 141 Consequences ................................ ................................ ............................... 144 Adzaletsi Lele Final Funeral Rites ................................ ................................ ...... 144 The Organization ................................ ................................ ............................ 146 The Performance ................................ ................................ ............................ 147 Alagadzedze Defilement ................................ ................................ ..................... 148 Causes of Defiling a Yeve Mem ber ................................ ................................ 150 The (Re)Action ................................ ................................ ............................... 152 Alagalele The Arrest and Cleansing ................................ ................................ ... 154 Tsifodi Libation ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 155 The Officiating Priest ................................ ................................ ...................... 158 Elements of Tsifodi and their Significance ................................ ...................... 159
9 Purpose of Tsifodi ................................ ................................ .......................... 161 Structural Organization and Examples of Tsifodi ................................ ............ 164 5 DRUMMING DRUM PERFORMANCE ................................ ............................... 171 Yeve Drum Performance ................................ ................................ ...................... 174 Drummers in the Yeve Cult ................................ ................................ ................... 177 Instruments of the Drum Ensemble ................................ ................................ ...... 181 Gakogui ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 184 Axatse ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 185 Adodo ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 185 Kagan ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 187 Kpetsi ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 188 Sogo ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 189 Notation and Playing Techniques ................................ ................................ ... 190 Husago Drumming ................................ ................................ ......................... 194 Adavu Drumming ................................ ................................ ............................ 200 Aforvu Drumming ................................ ................................ ........................... 204 Ako Drumming ................................ ................................ ................................ 206 Sovu Drumming ................................ ................................ .............................. 21 0 Avlevu Drumming ................................ ................................ ........................... 214 Davu Drumming ................................ ................................ ............................. 219 6 YEVE DANCE FORMS AND GESTURES ................................ ............................ 224 Husago Dance ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 229 Adavu Dance ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 233 Aforvu Dance ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 239 Ako Dance ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 243 Sovu Dance ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 247 Avle Dance ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 248 Davu Dance ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 252 Dance Gestures ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 256 7 YEVE RELIGIOUS SONGS, MEANINGS AND TRAN SCRIPTIONS .................... 262 Song Texts ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 264 Song Organization ................................ ................................ ................................ 265 Call and Response ................................ ................................ ......................... 266 Cantor Chorus ................................ ................................ ................................ 266 Interjection ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 267 Harmo ny ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 267 Scales ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 268 Consequences of Singing Yeve Cult Songs ................................ ......................... 268 Yeve Songs and Analysis ................................ ................................ ..................... 270 8 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 291
10 APPENDIX: BIOGRAPHIES ................................ ................................ ....................... 303 Agbayiza Agbelifufu ................................ ................................ .............................. 303 Hutodzehu Sofeda ................................ ................................ ................................ 303 Togbinye Agbelifufu ................................ ................................ .............................. 303 Tsale Agbelifufu ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 304 BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 305 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 318
11 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Similarity between Yeve and Fon words/names ................................ ............... 108
12 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Togbi Nyamekor IV Chief of Ave Dakpa in regalia at his palace ..................... 71 2 2 Togbi Ekpetor III (in white cloth) The land Chief of Ave Dakpa ....................... 71 2 3 A section of Ave Dakpa people heading to c limb Amesikpe ............................... 96 2 4 A section of people making their way on top of Amesikpe ................................ .. 97 2 5 A section of people who did not make it on t op of Amesikpe .............................. 97 2 6 Dance drumming groups celebrating at Amesikpe ................................ ............. 98 3 1 A ritual pot ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 109 3 2 A section within the Yeve cult house also depicting the old style ..................... 110 3 3 The modern cult houses with images of priests and priestesses to alert and caution non members. ................................ ................................ ...................... 111 3 4 A photo of Husunu Hutodzehu Sofeda ................................ ............................. 117 3 5 A photo of Tsale Agbelifufu ................................ ................................ .............. 119 3 6 Agbayiza Agbelifufu ................................ ................................ .......................... 121 : 3 7 Kpokpowo ( dashi behind and Soshi in front) in their clothes working to makes some money for their graduation. ................................ ......................... 123 : 3 8 Husikpokpo making a hand gesture signifying supplication as she walks ........ 123 3 9 Initiate with scarification marks. ................................ ................................ ........ 126 3 10 Cowry necklaces ................................ ................................ .............................. 126 3 11 A section of Vodusiwo/Yevesiwo and avlesiwo ................................ ................ 130 3 12 Hu sunu with the agbadza ................................ ................................ ................. 132 3 13 A section of Husunuwo in their regalia dancing ................................ ................ 133 3 14 The front view of husunu with the raffia and Ese ................................ .............. 133 3 15 The back view of the husunu in regalia ................................ ............................ 134 3 16 A minawo in her white head scaf ................................ ................................ ...... 135
13 3 17 A midawo in his usual white head scaf ................................ ............................. 136 3 18 The Yeve cult Hierachical tree ................................ ................................ .......... 137 4 1 Agbayiza performing tsifodi with Yevesiwo supporting ................................ ..... 163 5 1 A section of Yeve drummers in Ave Dakpa ................................ ...................... 181 5 2 Sections of Yeve dr ummers in Ave Dakpa, ................................ ...................... 181 5 3 Gakogui ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 183 5 4 Axatse ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 184 5 5 Adod o ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 185 5 6 Kagan ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 186 5 7 Kpetsi ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 187 5 8 Sogo/agbobli ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 188 5 9 Gankogui and Axatse notation key ................................ ................................ ... 191 5 10 Supporting drums notation key ................................ ................................ ......... 192 5 11 Sogo lead drum notation key ................................ ................................ ............ 193 5 12 Husago call and response patterns ................................ ................................ .. 195 5 13 Husago support patterns and drum te xts ................................ .......................... 196 5 14 Husago main drum text and recurring pattern ................................ ................ 198 5 15 Formula for drumming ................................ ................................ ...................... 199 5 16 Adavu slow supporting patterns ................................ ................................ ........ 201 5 17 Adavu lead drum Introduction (slow section ................................ .................... 202 5 18 A davu transition pattern from slow to fast ................................ ......................... 202 5 19 Adavu fast lead drum pattern ................................ ................................ ............ 203 5 20 Aforvu supporting rhythmic patterns ................................ ................................ 205 5 21 Aforvu lead drum pattern ................................ ................................ ................. 206 5 22 Ako supporting rhythmic patterns ................................ ................................ ..... 207
14 5 23 Ako lead drum patterns ................................ ................................ .................... 208 5 24 Sovu supporting rhythmic patterns ................................ ................................ ... 211 5 25 Sovu lead drum pattern ................................ ................................ .................... 212 5 26 Avlevu supporting rhythmic patterns ................................ ................................ 215 5 27 Avlevu lead slow ................................ ................................ ............................... 216 5 28 Avlevu fast supporting rhythmic patterns ................................ .......................... 217 5 29 Avlevu fast lead drum pattern and drum texts ................................ .................. 218 5 30 Davu I supporting r hythmic patterns ................................ ................................ 220 5 31 Davu I lead drum (the search) ................................ ................................ ....... 220 5 32 Davu II support rhythmic patterns ................................ ................................ ..... 221 5 33 Davu II lead drum patterns and drum texts ................................ ....................... 222 6 1 Structure of Yeve dance arena ................................ ................................ ......... 228 6 2 Husago ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 233 6 3 Adavu ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 237 6 4 Aforvu ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 241 6 5 Ako ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 246 6 6 Sovu ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 247 6 7 Avle ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 251 6 8 Davu I ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 255 6 9 Davu II ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 256 7 1 Gamado ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 270 7 2 Yeve Nye Nuxoxo ................................ ................................ ............................. 272 7 3 Gbogblamenu ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 274 7 4 Ahodzo ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 276 7 5 Ayisu Me Vem O ................................ ................................ ............................... 277
15 7 6 Dalosu ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 279 7 7 Eku Le Yewu Ge ................................ ................................ ............................... 280 7 8 Agbenya Gbee Meva ................................ ................................ ........................ 281 7 9 Dolawo Gbona ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 283 7 10 Demeku nenyo wu ................................ ................................ ............................ 284 7 11 Gbayiza ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 286 7 12 Huwoe ma ne gble ................................ ................................ ............................ 287 7 13 Da fe nyado tsim ................................ ................................ ............................... 289
16 LIST OF OBJECTS Object page 6 1 Videos of the dances covered in this Chapter can be found by clic king on this link, ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 229
17 LIST OF TERMS A BEBUBU Speaking allusively on the drum in reference to something A DAGANA The colloquial Ewe language, proverbs, metaphors and allusion A DODO A double ended iron bell used as an a ccompaniment often carriedby the Yeve members A DZALE A generic name for all types of soap A DZALETSI LELE Literally, bathing lather water. In context, the final funeral ri te for a Yeve member A DZEXE An owl A GBADZA The oldest social and funeral dance of the Ewe speaking people A GBANA The notion buying something and pay later A HEVI A non Yeve member A KLALA A white cloth A KPETESHIE A local Ewe gin A LAGA A person that has been defiled A LAGADZEDZE The process of going through a defilement A LAGALELE The process of arrest and cleansing a defiled Yeve member A MEDZODZOR Reincarnation A MEGIGLI A process of causing a Yeve me mber to be defiled. It is also known as amegbegble A MESIKPE A might y and revered god of the Ave Dakpa people A MESIKPE Z A A festiva l celebrated to commemorate Amesikpe A MIDZE Red oil A NLOGBE A language or dialect spoken by Anlo people A SITSATSA Trading, the idea of buying and selling items in order to make a profit
18 A TADI Pepper or a common stew (two meanings) A TSIAWO Gestural movements A VIATSI A type of sturdy tree. Often placed around the cult house. A VLE A category of initiate in the Yeve cult who are comedian A XATSE A rattle also called a shaker A ZIDETSI A ground nut soup also known as peanut butter soup B LI Corn B LI NUI Scarification B LINUSISIS The process of scarification B LIWO C orn flour. Can also be spelled bliwor. B LOR Blue color. Also one of the main Yeve colors that symbolizes sadness and pain D A One of the major deity of the Yeve cult also referred to as vo duda D AKPLA D ASHI Da initiates D EDETSI A palm nut soup D EKORNUWO A customs and indigenous knowledge system of values D ZATSI A mixture of corn flour and water normally use for libation D ZODODO The process of setting a fire E SE The feathers at the tail of a parrot E WEGBE The language spoken by Ewe people F ETATOTRO Annual thanksgiving and sacrificial ceremony held at the end of a particular year. F ETRIDETSI Okra soup G AKOGUI A doub le bell of the Ewe speaking people G BOR A goat
19 H EAD M IDAWO A high priest in charge of the cult house. H UDZEDZE Become yevesi or a Yeve convert H UGBE Yeve cult language also known as Yevegbe H UGBONO A leader, elder and adviser of the cult also as the midawo H USI An initiate of the Yeve cult H USUNU A male initiate of the Yeve cult K AGAN The smallest and the first support drum K ALEVU The drum of the brave men. K OKLO Hen or chicken K OKLOTSU Rooster K ONUWORWORWO Ritual performances K POKPOR A ne ophyte or ungraduated member of the Yeve cult M IDAWO A high priests of the Yeve cult M INAWO A high priestess of the Yeve cult M OLU Rice N YAGADZI The color red. One of the main Yeve colors that symbolizes the seriousness of the Yeve cult S O The thun der god and lightning S OSHI The i nitiates of So Also referred to as Yevesi. T ODZIHA Any drink foreign to Ghana T OGBEAWO Ancestors T OHONO An attribute of the Yeve God, So T OMELA Any type of fish T RE Calabash T RO Spirits
20 T SI Water T SIFODI Libation V ODU A generic name for deities V UFOFOWO Dance drumming styles V UGBE Drum text or language also known as mnemonics X EBIESO Another name for the Yeve God So Y EDUDUWO Types of dancing Y EVE The name of the society, the gods and a refer ence to thunder Y EVEFOFOR The process of discovering Yeve Y EVEGBE The dialect or language spoken by the cult. It is also know as hugbe Y EVEKPOR The Yeve cult house Y EVESI A member of the Yeve cult Z AKADZA Another affiliated deity of the Yeve cult that resides in bees
21 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy HISTORY, RELIGION AND PERFORMING YEVE: EWE DANC E DRUMMING, SONGS AND RITUALS AT AVE DAKPA, GHANA By Samuel Kwame Elikem Nyamuame August 2013 Chair: Larry Norman Crook Major: Musi c This study examines the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa, its rituals and dance drumming songs performance practices. Yeve is a s ecret society whose practices are controlled and restricted fr om the public. Ave Dakpa is a small town located on the Aflao Ho road in the southeastern corner of the Volta region, Ghana. Throughout Ghana the Yeve cult can only be found in the southe rn par t of the Volta region where the Ewe people reside Yeve is also practiced among the ne ighboring Ewe speaking people in Togo and Dahomey, now the Republic of Benin. In addition, Yeve has a historical tie to the Yoruba Shango in southwestern Nigeria through its characteristics and practices. Thus, Yeve and its practices become quintessentially Ewe reli gious and musical traditions. The Yeve cult in general is no doubt one of the most overlook ed traditional religious societies in the Eweland due to long lastin g influences from the establishment of Christianity. Due to its practice of instant vengeance and punishment on dishonest people and immoral practices the cult consistently receives negative connotations and is frequently regarded as an evil society. In re ality, the Yeve cult insists on moral values,
22 rituals that foster spiritual growth and healthy relationship between its members and God through deities who serve as intermediaries between God and man. This study therefore introduces the significance of t his subject by documenting the importance of the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa and its performance practices Through critical examinations of the Ave migration accounts this study describes the Yeve cult as one of the significant religious cults whose ritual practices not only instruct, protect and empower spiritual growth among its members but also play crucial roles in Ave Dakpa. In addition, this study examines the Yeve cult dance drumming and songs as extraordi narily powerful tool s in empowering and igniting successful r itual activities T his study describes the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa and frames its practices as mechanisms of resistan ce to the influences of and its ongoing confrontations w ith modernity. It puts forth the positive notion that this resistance has resulted in the preserv ation of traditional values as embedded in authentic and unadulterated modes of its dance drumming.
23 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Aims and Objectives The purpose of this study is to document the Yeve cult, its historical backgrounds, rituals and dance drumming song performance practices in Ave Dakpa. 1 Ave Dakpa is a town located in the southeastern Ewe territories of the Volta region, Ghana. Generally, Yeve is con sidered the most feared, powerful, and secretive of all traditional religious societies of the Ewe speaking people; a tradition that is restricted era and ha ve continued t o be powerful until present day. However, this tradition has been and secret nature of the cult and its resistance to outside influences stem ming maintenance of tradition al rituals and dance drumming performances in unadulterated form to preserve traditional values. My interest in this subject is a long time relationship established during my childhood with family members (immediate and extended) who are priests, priestess es and drummers of the Yeve cult. M ost scholarship on Ewe traditional musical practices concentrates on social and recreational musical forms and centers its musicological emphasis on concepts of rhythm, principles and techniques of drumming as manifested in the works of Cudjo (1952), Locke (1978; 1989, 1998; 2005), Agawu (1995), Amedzi (1998), Pantaleoni (1972) and Burns (2010). Traditional religious musical practices of the Ewe people in Ghana have not been extensively researched. R esearch on Yeve music i ncludes Jones (1959), Fiagbedzi (1966), Avorgbedor (1987), Agordoh (1994) and Locke (2010). Hill 1 Ave Dakpa and its history will be discussed in detail in chapter two of this study.
24 (1981) and Friedson (2009) have focused on the brekete shrine also called gorovodu (see Rosenthal 1998) and its musical practices. Historians and anthropologis ts such as Fiawoo (1959), Akyeampong (2001) and Green (2002) have researched aspects of the Yeve cult and its practices but barely scratch the surface in their discussion of the role and significance of dance drumming in the ritual performances. The Yeve c histories exclusivity and resistance to change make it a unique group to study. This study is organized into three main parts to help readers get an in depth understanding of the contents and contexts of the backgrounds, rituals and musical act ivities and the people who are involved. The first part concentrates on the history of Ave Dakpa and its people their migration from Notsie (ancestral home) until their present settlements and examines the social and religious philosophies and belief s ystems of the people of Ave Dakpa as a significant component of their culture. It also reviews pertinent scholarly literature of earlier scholars. The second part focuses in on Yeve, the name of the religious society, the major and minor deities as well a s the institutions involved in the Yeve cult. The study examine s the etymology of the term, Yeve and how it bec ame the name for this particular religious cult. It further engages the discussion on specific rites and ritual forms associated with Yeve ceremo nies and investigates the hierarchical status of its members and leaders as well as histories in the religious cult The control of an esoteric knowledge system and the role of the Yeve cult as a disciplinary court of justice for social control and crime prevention are also addressed
25 The third part explores the dance drumming song repertory of the Yeve cult. There are seven major dance 2 performed during Yeve ceremonies. This part describe s the seven dance drumming repertories of the cult and how each of them is linked to a particular deity or empowers and interprets specific ritual performances in context. Since musical activities are vital for Yeve this work further examines the role of drummers, instruments, types of drum texts or language and how those texts/languages function in performance. Additionally, this work finally examines different types of songs/song texts and their roles in general Yeve ceremonies. It discusses the literal and deep meaning of the songs Some of the songs discuss the powerful nature of deities while others advice non members on the general background of the cult. This dissertation describes the importance of Yeve since not much has not been written on this s ubject and the few relevant contributions lack substance. Additionally, University in Middletown, CT in 2007. The content of this dissertation is a combination of my several y ears of field research in Ave Dakpa and life long experiences from my childhood performing this dance drumming in addition to listening to various Yeve dance drumming traditions in other parts of the Southern Ewe territories. Despite my personal experience s with variant versions of Yeve performance practices, this dissertation does not compare and contrast differences in Yeve cult performance practices. Rather, i t concentrates on Yeve cult and its practices in Ave Dakpa. An overriding motivation is to reint roduce the significance and depth of Yeve to the 2 drumming performed in Yeve cult.
26 academic community. It is my hope that t his exposure will encourage interested scholars in the field of ethnomusicology, anthropology, African religions and African studies to further research the subject. Personal Relationship to the Research Topic My first exposure to Yeve cult dance drumming was through my uncle Sefeda 3 during one of the Yeve annual events known as fetatotro 4 But most importantly, my 5 is a Yeve priestess from wh om I have also learned so much by spending lots of time around her when she was singing. Besides learning through my uncle Sofeda, I have also experienced several Yeve drumming styles and other traditional religious performances such as those I have mentio ned above in my hometown, Whuti and neighboring towns. However, for readers to understand my close connection to Yeve and its musical practices I give a perspective of how it all started until now: My initia l listening to Yeve music specifically Yeve son g performance started with my aunt Daenyametor on our compound house. As a child I Uncle compound house with a big tree in t he middle of the house under which we all socialized telling stories and listening to the elders. The compound was fenced with palm branches (now cement walls) with three entrances 3 S into the Yeve cult. According to the ethics of the cult the moment an initiate adopt a cult name his/her original name from birth cannot be mentioned until his death. With that respect I will not mention his birth name. I will explain his name with other name in chapter three. 4 Fetatrotro literally means turning the tip/head of the year around. In context, it is an event or a gathering of where members cele brate a journey with their gods/deities for successful one year and also make resolutions to gods/deities for the coming year or the new years. In some instances, it is a moment to also 5 Daenyametor is my uncl cannot disclose her birth name. However, I will explain the meaning of her nam e with other names in chapter three.
27 w hile our family occupied the western side. The two Nyamuame families mingled with great joy and organized evening story telling times together and sometimes made dinner together for over fifteen people. Religiously, my dad was a principal of the Presbyteri an school and the minister for the Presbyterian by denomination until present. On the other hand, my uncle Akato did not go to church though he believed in God but received no baptism until hi s death. His children who attended Presbyterian school at that time were not Christians but went to church to escape punishments 6 Daenyametor his wife was not a Christian but Yevesi (believer of Yeve and was initiated into the cult). Occasionally tensio n arose in the house and sometimes between the two families when there was a Yeve event and the activities that are associated with it. Why? During Yeve events it is a custom for Yeve initiates to start preparing for the day by singing praise songs and ven erating gods/deities by singing as soon as they get up from bed and the same thing is repeated when they return from the event. As such, this is what Daenyametor also does starting from 4:30 a m or sometimes 5:00 a m until she leaves the house and also w hen she returns. Her loud singing accompanied with adodo 7 at that time of the morning inconvenienced us and w o ke us up very early against our will power. This practice sometimes took between five days to a week before it ended. As no one confronted or ques tioned Yeve practices my family had to deal with this until it was over. During these times there was always tension between the children in the house and the family heads and no socialization took place in the evening. In other parts of the world, for ins tance the United States, a neighbor has every right to call the police peace and comfort. However, this is not the case in my hometown. Calling the police will not resolve the issue. In actual fact, the police will not even show up to intervene if he/she is aware that the culprit is a Yevesi or from this religious order. My Dad and his brother could not resolve this issue because it could create further problems such as hatred and divo rce among other things. One Saturday morning, I had decide 2 d to pay close attention to the kind of songs and the messages in the songs. Surprisingly, I began to like the songs because they were songs that have potentials of instructing and educating the public if people actually pay close attention to the words, especially those songs in Ewe and not those in Yevegbe (cult language). I 6 ( Presbyterians by denomination ) Some are choir directors, choir members and teachers in the Presbyterian school system. 7 Adodo is a multiple bell instrument normally used in the Y eve cult
28 became very interested and wished my parents could one day listen to the songs but at the same time it would have been an absolute disrespect for me to tell my parents due to the customs and values of my culture. From that time forward some of the Yeve songs became my thought for the day. Among the many songs I loved so much there was one that, in my opinion, was a recipe fo r living a good life. The lyrics of that song went this way; Ame adeke me nye agbetsi le xexesiame o, wo nyuie na novi eye nawo segbedzi, ne salagatsi mi asiwoa, to wo dowu enue ma This literally rld, do good to a friend and respect the law and the customs, when you die or when death knocks at your door, that is it and your journey in this life comes to an became one of my l ife philosophy that I shared with my schoolmates who had hatred for their friends. Since then I have been trying to get the opportunity to one day learn more on the Yeve dance drumming, songs and some of the ritual practices. Ever since, wherever I heard Y eve dance drumming being performed especially publicly I went to witness the performances. This is just one scenario among others to give readers about my close relationship with this tradition and the people who perform it. Though I lived with the memo ries of several Yeve events that I experienced as a child it was difficult to gain access into the cult or question certain activities in details when I became an adult. This is simply because in some Ewe localities a child is allowed to participate in an y music oriented activity be it social or religious. When a child grows and begins to understand or question the background of the musical settings he is prevented or denied the knowledge behind it unless he is initiated especially in the religious organiz ation. Therefore, as an uninitiated Yeve member with a Christian religious background I did not have any right to enter the Yeve cult nor could I question any of their activities. In 1999 2000 I started investigating the history of Yeve in great depth fr om individual Anlo Ewe elders residing in Accra at the same time I was a teaching assistant in the music department at the University of Ghana, Legon. My preliminary research started in Accra because I knew from an it would be
29 difficult to engage in discussion s on Yeve in the villages or within the areas where Yeve cults and shrines are located. As such, it was wise for me to start getting information from elders in the city before going to the village. The esoteric knowledge o n Yeve and its practice is controlled by the ritual experts and initiated members of the group ( Locke 2010). The control of knowledge surrounding Yeve increases its secrecy and spirituality. The consequences of an ahevi (a non member) being heard discussin g aspects of Yeve is severe and no one especially a village r where the cult houses are firmly established is interested and willing to engage in a dialogue on Yeve. However, the few people who might risk deliberating on such issues typically reside in Ac cra or live several hundreds of kilometers from the Ewe territory in order to avoid being caught or heard. Despite the ir distance from home, most people are not comfortable engaging in discussi ons about Yeve While discussion of Yeve practices and beliefs are closely controlled, choreographed stage presentations of Yeve music and dance in Ghana and abroad are efforts to highlight its cultural traditions in the context of rising national sentiment. I n college, I was thrilled to watch the Ghana Dance Ensemble 8 perform an aspect of Yeve dance drumming at the University of Ghana, Legon Accra. This was the first time I ha d seen Yeve performed on stage apart from its traditional setti ng. My previous knowledge and experience about Yeve dance drumming revealed to me instantly that the staged version been choreographed. As I was trying to learn as much as possible about this religious tradition, I interviewed the performers and the artist ic directors of the company. 8 The Ghana Dance Ensemble is a resident dance company established in 1960 under the Institute of African Studies in the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon Accra
30 The interviews disclosed that neither the performers nor the directors had any direct knowledge about the history of the Yeve cult and its ritual dance drumming practices. I finally contacted Mr. Johnson Kemeh 9 who provided me with insightful detailed information about this religious tradition including the difficulties and challenges people had encountered researching this tradition. After several days of speaking with Mr. Kemeh I developed an even keener interest in this topic I must note that my teenage experiences with my family members Daenyeametor and Sofeda combined with several inquiries on the subject and my affiliations with some of the high priests and priestess further familiarized me with the traditional context of the topic. Based on my close association and knowledge on this religious tradition I became motivated to document the Yeve tradition for scholars and individuals who might be interested in researching it in the future Problems of Research into Ewe Tradi tions The m usical traditions of the Ewe speaking people have attracted many scholars who have investigated various components of its performance practices such as the acquisition of musical knowledge, rhythmic principles and aesthetics (see Cudjo 1952; Loc ke 1989; Chernoff 1979). Unfortunately these researche rs have predominantly concentrated on the non religious musical traditions of the Ewe In contrast, Ewe t raditional religious musical genres have received little attention in ethnomusicology scholarship especially by native scholars. The difficulties of conducting such r esearch in a society where history is primarily maintained orally, and where many religious 9 Mr. Johnson Kemeh is a senior drumming instructor at the Univers ity of Ghana, music department. He is a native Ewe musician whose relatives are part of the Yeve cult but he was not initiated into the cult although he had deep knowledge on some of their practices.
31 practices have been suppressed or forgotten due to the long lasting influence of colonial rule has kept most researchers from investigating this topic. During the colonial period, many traditional rituals and their musical genres ( including Yeve religious tradition ) were degraded and treated as evil by colonial authorities Yeve was one of the tra ditional religious and musical societ ies of the Ewe people that missionary and colonial rulers found to have unsavory mystical activities and relationships with the spirit world. Despite such persecution the Yeve practices survive d in resistance to attemp ts to discourage its practice This makes the Yeve one of very few groups in Ghana to have maintained their traditional religious practices intact The colonial era was dominated by negative attitudes towards traditional worship and music practices in Gha na. Meyer (1999) discusses the effects of these attitudes as the missionaries introduced Christian doctrines among the Ewe speaking people in the early 1830s. Recounting his personal experience living among the Ewe, Meyer discusse s how Christianity promulg ated a view of traditional rituals and musical denying Ewe Christians their previ ous expressive form of worship... The missionaries diabolized the Ewes religious concept, and above all, religious practices, and this 1999: 85). T raditional customary rites and indigeno us drumming and dancing were disparaged as evil practices and those who indulged in these practices were inevitably considered pagans. As a result, most traditional beliefs have been degraded, lost and affected.
32 However, Koku and Yeve cults among others st ill maintain their ritual activities in unadulterated f orm Further, the establishment of mission schools and colonial education affected Ewe elites through the introduction of foreign concepts of musical tradition in the school system. The church strongl y advised Ewes against participating in events involving traditional music and dance. This attitude, until today, has had detrimental effects on traditional religious musical practices. For instance, through missionary controlled education in the schools, students caught watching or participating in traditional music and dance or watching traditional ritual performances were subjected to severe punishment; a situation I personally experienced during my early school days. Attendance roles were strictly check ed every Sunday after church services. The performances affected Ewes ( and other Ghanaians) and linked social class difference s to religious and musical life. The educated elite ( predominantly Christians) aspired to be civilized and modern and regarded as backward the uneducated general population who participated in traditional religion and other traditional cultural activities. Discussing this point we experience with modernity has been structured by the Christian duality between good (Christian, modern, advance) and evil (traditional rel 65). This created a gap between elites (Christians) and their counterpart, the uneducated natives. Gbolonyo (2009) has extensively expounded on the pervasive influence of missionary impact, the western education that came with it and its effects on the youth culture and on the African people in general. Agawu share s his personal expe rience of disassociation from his
33 local pastor and his educated family background Agawu was not permitted to participate or even watch adabatram a religious dance drumming of the adabatram but hear 97). My own father, a principal of the evangelical Presbyterian school and a minister of the church punished me for watching traditional music by giving me a number of many Ewe scholars. The result is that m any educated elites in Ghana initially reject their own cultural heritage including knowledge of indigenous rituals and tradition al forms of music making. However, Ewe native scholars recently have begun searching for their roots by investigating their local traditional musical cultures. But this is not a simple matter as there are traditional ritual s and initiation procedures one must go through to gather information and learn the esoteric knowledge in organizing and performing its associated music. It is still difficult and frequently uncomfortable for native scholars who risk their social status when they are seen kneeling in fro nt of deities and walking bare footed and topless (with no shirt) to perform rituals that will enable them to enter shrines or cults to conduct research. The negative associations of traditional religious beliefs extend to the most important instrument use d in Ewe religious traditions, the drum. The drum itself is an important symbolic object and a powerful instrument for the Ewe speaking people (and other ethnic groups in Ghana and Africa) in all forms of music making and t he significance of the drum proje cts well beyond musical contexts (Fraioli 2006). As a linguistically communicative tool, i t speaks in metaphors and proverbs that non native
34 speakers typically do not understand In the past, t he sound of the drum and the drum texts were employed to help w in battles and defeat enemies. Among the Ewes, there are different drums that also have different functions (Gbolonyo 2009). Every society, family, clan, shrine, cult, stool house and venerated ancestor may have a specific set of drums. M y own grandfather gave me an account of how he was accused of worshiping to house evangelism. He was confronted because a sacrifice had been made and blood sprinkled on the drum that was then lifted up and beaten. A fe w pastors I have kept in touch with since 1985, misconceptions about the drum and its uses. They questioned specific drums that have human skulls adorning them yet they did not un derstand their historical significance. For kalevu (the drum of the brave men). The sound of this drum and the language it spoke to warriors, according to oral history, encouraged and assisted them by intensif ying their mood until they defeated their enemies. Selected parts of defeated skulls were used to ritualistically adorn the drum. However, according to their belief system, anytime members of that clan go to war the sounds of the drum will ensure that they always defeat their enemies. A few people who understand this history and the functions of the drum also have the ability to interpret the proverbs that drummers play on the drum Therefore drums were not allowed into the church and the missionary educat ion system strongly advised against the drum. Sadly enough, due to these old issues, most educated Ewe natives to this day have neglected their indigenous musical tradition, lack knowledge o f traditional values,
35 customs and institutions and instead apprec iate music and cultural practices that are foreign to them. Yeve research is also problematic due to the complexity of the Ewe language and its variant dialects. The Ewe language ( and the variant dialects ) is one of the most difficult indigenous languages of Ghana to be learned by non native speakers. The Ewe language and variant forms are challenging and complex to speak due to the polysemy of certain words, proverbs, colloquial expressions and the difficulty of pronouncing specific words that combined ce rtain consonants and vowels. Besides the Ewe language and its dialects, many African languages have been challenging for scholars researching indigenous musical genres However, researchers should at least have basic linguistic skills so that native ideas and concepts are not misconstrued and mis interpretat ed S ome non African researchers observe and document musical performances without even the minimum level of language skills needed in order to interact with the native performers. This needed competency in linguistic matters also extends into the musical realm. Ethnomusicologist Mantle Hood (1960) first championed el d researchers to T his, he contended would allow the ethnomusicologist to better understand the cultur Hood proposed that ethnomusicologists should be able to also speak at least a dialect of the musical cultures or traditions they are researching to foster an in depth understanding of its content and context. Following Hood, Agawu (2003) also realized that the misinterpretation of songs, concepts and the context of music making is often due to inadequate language skills among researchers. He therefor e calls for an increase of
36 native African scholars, most importantly, those with indigenous linguistic ability and knowledge to properly document song text s in their precise contexts. In the case of Yeve, the linguistic situation is made more complex becau se the cult has its own ritual language in addition to the use of Ewe language and its several dialects. The cult language, Yevegbe (also known as Hugbe) i s a combination of Ewe, Fon, Adagana and other Ewe variations based on the geographical location of t he cult (Akuetey 1989/9). As a result, many terminologies and phrases used in Yevegbe are full of metaphors and allusions that are difficult for even native Ewe speakers to comprehend. Thus, Yevegbe requires several years of practice to master. The little I know and can speak from my childhood in addition to what I learned throughout my research from 2006 as a native Ewe still does not qualify me as someone who can fluently speak Yevegbe. The same kind difficulty relates to competency in understanding the Ye ve cult dance drumming and its drum texts. The drum texts performed during Yeve ceremonies are not the randomly crafted and comical types that Burns (2005) discusse s amongst Dzodze Ageshe group and its performers. Instead, Yeve drum texts are carefully sel ected and performed in close connection with rituals being performed (Villepastour 2010; Locke 1980). The drum texts are highly poetic and are full of proverbial phrases termed abebubu (speaking allusively on the drum in reference to something) that is mos t often used in performing the agblorvu the Ewe talking drum. In the purely musical realm, the study of the drum text is also significant in understanding the organization of rhythmic phrases, dance forms and gestures in Yeve music and its educational co mponents to both cult members and non members.
37 This study to docu ment a neglected powerful religious tradition as a means of preserving and communicating details on the significance of its rituals, values, customs, esoteric knowledge system and d ance drumming performance practices. Furthermore, this dissertation addresses musical and linguistic skills to research their own indigenous musical cultures. To add esearching traditions like Yeve, it is also important for native scholars to have preexisting traditional knowledge on dekornuwo (indigenous knowledge system on values, custom and institutions), their significance and functions as well as practical experie nces and knowledge of performing specific traditional social and religious musical genres to facilitate in depth understanding of the musical activities. In this context, t his study examines a specific Yeve cult, its ritual forms and deities, the seven dan ce drumming song types, movements and gestures and the functions of drum texts or languages What this study will not do is to attempt to present a generalize d description of the performance of Yeve ritual and music t radition across the entire Volta region or to compare and contrast different Yeve performance styles I am very aware of and have knowledge of other regional and local variations in Yeve performances (both ritual and styles of music) I have discussed the range of differences with Professor Midawo Aloworyi e C. K. Ladzekpo and Dartey Kumordzi among other knowledgeable ambassadors of the Ewe cultural and musical traditions both home and abroad. However, comparing the various forms of Yeve among the Ewe is fo r a future project Therefore this study focuses on document ing Yeve performance practices at Ave Dakpa and all information regarding its ritual or music performance practice described in
38 this study represents how Yeve ceremonies and performances are organ ized in the town of Ave Dakpa. Why Ave Dakpa ? Frustrations of a Native Researcher A Personal Experience Deciding on my research location, Ave Dakpa was the result of several disappointments I had in my hometown, Whuti where I initially intended to do m y field research for this dissertation. I was born and raised in Whuti where my parents live and work. My grandfather a chief and a family head taught me a great deal about traditional values, customs and institutions of the Anlo land. My father on the o ther hand, was teacher, principal and a minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church at Whuti. As a result, my Christian background and academic education stem from my father while my traditional knowledge stems from my grandfather. As a result, I becam e a kind of bridge between my father and grandfather and was able to observe and interact with each side respectively until now. When I was growing up there were lots of traditional dance drumming clubs and performance groups, both social and religious. Mo st of the se groups performed at least one to three times a week. I initially intended to research the musical traditions in my hometown to promote its rich musical cultur e As I was growing up I developed a keen interest in Yeve music, although knowing for a fact that my Christian parents would not welcome the idea. They held the same negative perception of traditional dance and drumming as evil that was mentioned in Meyer (1999). I did not disclose my interest to my parents despite their support of my musi c education from secondary school through college and to my master degree. My father knows that I have so much love for traditional drumming and dancing in addition to missionary influenced choral music because I have also been featured on various national television stations in Ghana. I also had my father accompany me during
39 previous researche that I conducted because of his status and popularity throughout the district. In the middle of April 2006 I called my father from the United States to ask him to a rrange the preliminary told him that I was coming home to research on Yeve and that he should contact my uncles and aunts in addition to a couple priests I had already spoken with regardin g this research. The conversation almost brought to an end to our father son relationship. To cut a long story shot, it was not fun at all. I hope those who have researched or travel ed to Ghana and other parts of Africa will agree and understand the Christ ian and non Christian relationship especially in modern times where Charismatic churches are all over in the continent. My father being a lovely man decided to go ahead and jeopardize his status by agreeing to visit certain priests of the Yeve cult to ask their permission for me to come. This was a very tough endeavor not only for my father but also for my entire family My father finished his arrangements and since that time I have personally been contacting all the priests over the phone at least once a w eek also to see if they will have any further concerns or reservations about me. My final call was at the airport to assure them that I was coming and they were all excited. I arrived in Ghana and headed straight to my hometown in the first week of June 20 06. Without wasting any further time I arranged a meeting so that we could have a decent schedule since most of them were farmers and fishermen who went to their had co ntacted instantly changed their minds and refused to work with me. They finally midawo (high
40 priest) I spoke to when I was in the United States before getting to Ghana said in the Ew e language, Mie dibe miawo naneke ne fofowo nava gbloe le soleme alo gbedoxome o, T here has never been anyt hing as heartbreaking and frustrating in my life as this disappointment. It affected me so much that I perceived everyone around me and in my community at that time as an enemy. Anytime I slept there was only one sentence that kept recurring in my mind an followed up many times but still they refused to work with me It was one fateful morning, two weeks after my disappointment trying to think of a new research topic outside my hometown when I got a call on my cell phone from an unknown number. Although I normally would not answer an unknown number, this time I did, out of desperation. Surprisingly, it was my former college roommate, best friend and a brother, Isaac Hirt Manhe imer. 10 Without welcoming or asking him his purpose of coming to Ghana I let out my frustrations and disappointments to him. As always, Isaac comforted me and then declared his purpose of coming to Ghana, which was to perform engagement rites for his fianc e Gloria Dorwu 11 and needed me to be his support and knew of any traditional religious group and someone they could introduce me to. More 10 Isaac is my best friend and a brother to me. We lived in the same room called Commonwealth Hall (residents are all male) during college at the University of Ghana, Legon. We have drummed, travelled and done many activities together. Isaac was the one who recommended me to Wesleyan University for my MA degree in Ethnomusicology (World Music). 11 Gloria Dorwu is a lovely wife of Isaac Hirt Manheimer with two beautiful children namely Dodzi and Hannan. Isaac met Gloria during our college time at the University of Ghana, Legon. Since then they became very interest ed in each other and decided to be engaged.
41 than five people pointed to a ma n who was part of the engagement rites and happened knew he belonged to the Yeve cult because of the scarifications on his face. However, as Ewe custom demands, one ca nnot walk to a person let alone an elderly person to inquire about his background. Also, according to my existing experience and knowledge on Yeve an inquiry of that nature could lead to multiple mishaps or offense s leading to defilement of the person. One elder of the community called Prosper Awunyo finally my intentions of learning with him. Surprisingly, Agbayiza responded that he would be willing to teach me but had to discuss it with his elders and then consult the deities first to find out if I truly had this research at heart or just wanted to make money out of it. The following day, Agbayiza took me with him to a shrine where the consultation took place between the deities and us. The third day Agbayiza sent for me and confirmed that the gods had spoken and it was safe for me to conduct my field research with the Agbelifufu shrine in Ave Dakpa. Agbayiza and I went back to the shrine to thank the deities for allowing me not only to research about Yeve but for revealing themselves to me in order situation. If I had not taken Isaac to Ave Dakpa for the engagement rites, I would not have met t his wonderful priest and my going to Ghana would have been full of frustration. Agbayiza then introduced me to chiefs and elders, religious leaders, and Yeve initiates and I became part of the town. Since 2005 until now Agbayiza and his family talk very of ten over the phone and sometimes discuss concepts and issues that I still find difficult to comprehend. I want my readers to note that I do not hate those
42 priest s from my hometown who highly disappointed me. This happen s to native s frequently and for some reason I had the feeling it might happen and it did. I still cherish the fact that we have the same social life and fun going on as we used to and respect their religious backgrounds and ethics. Literature Reviews on Ewe and Yeve Rituals and Musical Pract ices Histor ical and anthropological studies on the life, customs and cultural practices of the Ewe speaking people have been written since the beginning of the German colonial ruling in the 1880s (Kudzodzi [ no date ]; Amenumey 1989). Major scholars from di verse disciplines have extensively researched Ewe history and migration (Amenumey 1986, 1989; Lawrence 2005; Agbodeka 1997; Kumassah 2009; Greene 1996, 2002; Mitchell McKnight 2005; Laumann 2005; Asamoa 1986), languages and dialects (Lawrence 2005; Atakpa 1997; Afeli 2005; Kwasikuma 1991; Ellis 1966), oral or verbal performance (Anyidoho 1983; Avorgbedor 2001) traditional religio cultural practices (Fiawo 1959; Parrinda 1961; Rosenthal 1998, 2005; Gaba 1997; Abotchie1997; Aforkpa, Gbeasor and Avegnon 2005) legal processes, institutions and chieftaincy (Fiawo 1968; Abotchie 1997; Kludze 2000), marriage (Nukunya 1999; Kumassah 2009) festivals (Dzakpasu 1992; Kodzo Vordoagu 1994; Nukunya 1997) church music (Agordoh 2004) and dances (Ladzekpo 1971; Ladzekpo an d Pantaleoni 1970; Locke 1978,1987,1992; Badu Younge 2002; Amegago 2011) among others. Academic studies on Ewe traditional music, specifically drumming have predominantly centered on historical and socio recreational genres of music The major scholarly w orks examine concepts of rhythm in drum performance (Jones 1959; Anku 1988, 1995, 1996, 1997; Agawu 1986, 1987, 1988,1990,1995; Locke 1978, 1992), ethnography (Agawu 1995; Avorgbedor 2003; Friedson 2009) drum mnemonics/text or language (Kwame 1998;
43 Locke a nd Agbeli, 198 0 ; Dzakpasu 1992), drumming techniques and timing (Pantaleoni 1972, 1972; Locke 1989; Locke 1982) transformations in Ewe dance drumming (Burns 2005; Hartigan 1993, 2011) song performance, philosophy and meaning (Fiagbedzi 1985, 2009; Seshie 1 991; Agawu 2001; Gorlin 2000; Dor 2004), women in traditional music (Ladzekpo and Pantaleoni 1970; Burns 2010) and aesthetics (Chernoff 1979; Fiagbedzi 2005; Amegago 2011). Traditional religious or ritual dance drumming has not received significant attenti on in the scholarship. Scholars in the field of traditional religion, cultural anthropology and history have documented a variety of traditional religious events and ritual practices among the Ewe speaking people of Ghana H owever, these scholars have not investigated and analyzed the musical aspects of the rituals. This is surprising as i t is widely perceived that the Ewe speaking people and perhaps most African societies have no successful ritual or magico religious performance for spirits, ancestors or deities without music as the driving force. This perception is also emphasized in the works of Nketia (1975) Berliner (1978) and Agordoh (1994) and many others. Hence, with support of good dance drumming the rituals are effectively performed and are able t o transcend into the spiritual realm of ancestors and deities As Agordoh (1994) put s it, ne who has visited a scene of public worship in Africa can be in doubt that one of the attributes of the gods is that they are music loving gods. The most common situation in which they manifest themselves is the musical situation in whic h affects them is 38). Despite this reality, the musical aspects most often seem to be neglected or treated as un important in relation to the ritual performance. At this point I will critically look at the works of scholars who have attempted to document or research
44 Yeve religious dance drumming including Jones (1959), Fiagbedzi (1966), Avorgbedor ( 1987), Agordoh (1994 ) and Locke (2010). I will start from the olde st work to be found to the current ones. Jones (1959) is with no doubt a groundbreaking scholar o f African music and much of his work centered on the Ewe speaking people of Ghana. His studies discuss a variety of social dance drumming styles such as agbad za adzida nyayito and the instruments of the Ewe drum orchestra Jones explained the social history, the significance and method of performance including play and fishing songs among children and adults. In addition, C hapter 5 Studies in Africa n Music describes aspects of traditional religious dance drumming of the Yeve religious cult and present s all joining it have to undergo a period of instruction during which they learn the special cult language, the cults songs and d 93). A significant assertion Jones ma kes regarding drumming and drummers in the Yeve cult i s the high level of esoteric knowledge and skill in performing a uthentic drumming unlike what is recently seen among some creative drummers discussed in Burns (2005). According to Jones, the Yeve religious dance traditio importan t contribution to Yeve dance drumming traditions there are flaws with his investigations. For instance, Jones contends there are seven successive dances in the Yeve cult as husago sovu sogba/sogo adavu aforvu agorvu and avlevu. In my opinion, Jones wa s making a generalization about the dances and did not tell his readers what Yeve cult he researched. It is important to emphasize and clarify that t here are several Yeve cults
45 a cross the Volta region In their dance drumming practices some cults have seve n, nine, ten, twelve and thirteen dances depending on the locations, sizes and the number of deities involved as well as the types of rituals associated with the cult. To make an assumption and generality that there are seven dances without specifying the specific Yeve cult that practice it that is confusing and disrespect ful for Yeve ethic codes. Jones also failed to mention davu as part of the Yeve cult dances. Davu is one of the principal dances performed to venerate the da (royal python) and cannot be o mitted when listing Yeve cult dances. This is ethically unfair to the musical tradition. Jones investigation relied on Desmond Tay (who was an Ewe, but not a Yeve initiate) as the only source for this publication. Fieldwork is a significant aspect of resea rch to help the researcher understand the context of various musical characteristics and behaviors of people involve d in the performance (see Barz and work serves as a foundation he could have done exceedingly better by visiting the Volta region to properly inquire about this wonderful tradition as later scholars such as David Lo cke, John Chernoff, James Burns, Gavin Webb and other have done with their research. In addition, i n his analysis, Jones employed inappropriate western musical terminologies to explain the activities such as the dynamics within the dance drumming performance, drum text and mnemonics. Fiagbedzi (1966) has produced the most extensive document on the Yeve cult and its musical performance practice. He is perhaps the first native Ewe music scholar to research Sogbadzi Songs is an unpublished master s thesis researched at Dzelukope, a suburb of Keta and written seven years after the publication of Jones Studies in Afri can Music
46 a variety of Yeve songs, song texts, scales, melodies and dance drumming performances. Concentrating on the cult in Dzelukope, Fiagbedzi examined a variety of songs and song texts associated with different dance dr umming styles including: songs that venerate specific deities and spirits ; songs that mediate between the initiates and non initiated audience ; and songs that trace the history and origin of the Yeve cult in hesis was his ability to decode and interpret the complexities in structure and languages used in these songs for readers and those foreign to the musical tradition. The languages of the songs involved Yevegbe, (cult language) Ewegbe (Ewe language) Anlogbe (Anlo dialects) and adagana (colloquial Ewe language, proverbs, metaphors and allusion). He discusses in great depth the type of muical scales employed in the song performance, the ir dynamics and timbre l qualities Fiagbedzi also g ives perspectives o n how ritual activities and dance drumming song relation s are entwined to give broader understanding of events around which Yeve performances are organized. A few of the many rituals he mentioned were scarification processes, defilement and redress mechanisms. he d oes not sufficiently explain d ance drumming and does not give detailed interpretations of the movements gestures. Similar to some ethnomusicologists in the late 1950s and 1960s wh o studied only portion s of entire musical performance s, Fiagbedzi was perhaps interested primarily in the study of the songs and other vocal properties as his title suggested. Despite his contribution he could have done extensive research on the holistic performance of the musical performances. The scholarly understanding of an African musical tradition in the discipline of ethnomusicology should involve the
47 drumming, dance, songs, dramatic elements and other artistic feature s referred by Stone (1998) as a was not a holistic approach to studying or understanding a complex religious musical tradition like Yeve. In the summer of 2011, I was in Ghana and met with Fiagbedzi to get his perspective on Yeve researc h and share the challenges he encountered during his fieldwork at Dzelukofe. Fiagbedzi affirmed that penetrating the spiritual realm of the Ewe traditional religiosity in general and that of the Yeve religious system in particular could be overwhelming. Fi agbedzi admitted that he discontinued the research when he started having emotional and spiritual uncertainties and realized that his spirit could not handle some of the practices in the cult. Avorgbedor (1987) published a small article in African Music Jo urnal Construction and Manipulation of Temporal Structures in Yeve Cult Music: A Multi cal background of the cult and its practices but more detailed than Jones. In his description of the cult Avorgbedor explaine s Xebieso Hu or Tohono ,) is a thunder god, a pantheon with a historical relation to the Yoruba Shango and Da homean Xevioso the Ewe soci ety (Anlo 9). While Jones gave general superficial descriptions of musical performance and instruments of the drum ensemb le, Avorgbedor centered his discussion on just two dance drumming styles, adavu and sovu Avorgbedor systematically describe s and analyzes the structures of adavu and sovu using a multi dimensional approach to facilitate understanding of how the music is
48 organized. Avorgbedor explain s adavu as the most serious and esoteric of all Yeve dance drumming and as a medium for heightened spiritual experience in the cult. Adavu spiritual objects are brought o ut, and sometimes miracul 12). Unlike Jones, Avorgbedor acknowledge s the existence of davu in his article as part of Yeve dance drumming. The problematic aspect of this article was that Avorgbedor d oes not mention where he conducted his research or how he got the information. Perhaps the article was based on several of his experiences witnessing Yeve performance in different parts of the Volta region or a choreographed staged version performed by one or more dance compani es. This resonates with adabatram based on his Christian background and his fat 1995: 37). Avorgbedor like Agawu was a product of the missionary education that studied western music and also has extensive k nowledge on traditional customs and ritual performances including that of the Yeve cult. This article could potentially be the result of his several experiences involving both his traditional and western musical knowledge and analyses. ok, Studies in African Music discusses traditional and popular musical genres of Africa and discusses specific elements of music performance such as instrumentations, characteristics, uses of music and regional performances. A sub section on religious musi c is devoted to the Yeve cult and its musical styles. This section is quite disappointing due to the fact that section on Yeve and, in fact, contains entire paragraphs derived s book. Like Jones,
49 on Yeve and its music is a general survey with simple narratives from people explaining what the Ewe speaking people generally know about Yeve. Locke (2010) is a concise article that discusses Yeve and its instrumental ensemble published in the Society of Music Theory Journal s on five dance drumming styles of the cult namely husago davu sogba/sohu adavu and afovu that he studied with his instructor Godwin Agbeli between 1975 and 1977. Although Agbeli was not a Yeve initiate or affiliated with any Yeve shrine by inheritance his arrangement according to Locke alytic concepts that can become part of a theory for this style of African music. The intent is to model a way to think and talk about the structure of this music, as well as the aesthetic experience of list ening to it and 1). In his ana lysis, Locke provided transcriptions on the basic patterns of stable instruments such as the gakogui (bell), axatse (rattle), kagan (first support drum) and further shows the relationship between response drums and the lead drums in a dialogue. A fascinati ng aspect of this article that facilitates easy understanding is the sound recording files that accompany the transcriptions. Locke recorded each instrument of the ensemble on separate tracks so that readers could listen to each instrument as they follow t he transcriptions. specifically among the Ewe and the Dagbamba people provided him with the basic analytical skills to analyze multifaceted drum pieces performed during Yeve ceremonies. Althou
50 analysis is oriented to music theory interested readers others will also find fascinating the descriptions of structural organization and its performance. Younge (2011) is a CD recording of Yeve dance drumming titled, Yeve: Ritual Music and Da nce of A Secret Societies This recording featured the Yevesiwo (Yeve initiates and drummers) from Adagbledu, Dzodze at Mama Ahoewornu Yeve shrine in the Volta region of Ghana. The performance recorded was very clear and I was able to determine the type of instruments, dance drumming styles, songs, rhythms and analyses of the performance. However, there are differences and variations in Yeve dance drumming across the Volta region. The similarities are recognized from my analysis and the differences are not e d Despite the quality of the recordings themselves, the CD has no liner note s to give directions or a brief description on any of the dance drumming pieces. It will be difficult for those who do not know about this music to relate to it without any guidan ce from the liner notes. Unlike Avorgbedor and Agordo, Younge clearly states the town he consulted for the recording and the shrine where the members agreed to be recorded As a native Ewe, drummer, dancer and a trained musician in both African and wester n musical traditions I understand the rigor and the challenges involved in researching a cult like Yeve. Unlike some social and publicly performed musical traditions it takes the special skills and backgrounds of being an insider, most importantly a parti cipant, to understand the organization of Yeve dance drumming. In my case f or example, I have performed with lots of dance drumming groups both at social and religious events with the community and dance companies. During any communal events when I am not drumming I am dancing or playing a specific role. I am
51 also a native Ewe who fluently speak s my mother tongue and have in depth understanding of traditional system of knowledge values and practically involved in its implementation in terms of language, mu sic and rituals. It is this backgrounds that facilitate s my understanding of the rituals and the musical tradition of Yeve. While Jones, Fiagbedzi, Avorgbedor, Agordoh and Younge have laid the foundation s for carrying Yeve research to another level their studies would have benefitted from the kind of first hand ethnographic research advocated by Barz ( 2009 ) and Net t l ( 2005). The benefit of the researcher going to the field and participating is an ability to grasp the context in which people make the musi c, what they think of the music to the music. This kind of research is very tough and challenging both emotionally and spiritually as recounted by Fiagbedzi. However, as Agawu (2003) suggests, my background as native Ewe coupled with a vast knowledge in a variety of both social and religious dance drumming performances facilitated my grasp of different rituals, dances, songs, modes of performances and linguistics skills fo r both cult language and the Ewe language. Field Research and Methodology The data gather ing and interpretation for this study can be categorized in to three major areas : (1) fieldwork collection and documentation (interviews, narratives and oral accounts) ; (2) participant observation ; and (3) transcriptions, transliterations, analyses and interpretations.
52 Field Research and Location The field location as stated in the title of the study is Ave Dakpa 12 located on Ho Aflao road in the southeastern part of the Volta region. Also, I must emphasize that the information collected for this study exists in oral tradition and involves the power of narration. Narratives, especially in oral cultures, are essential data of ethnography as in the case of Ave Dakpa. Schola rs such as Hood (1970), Seeger (1987), Nettl (1983, 2005), Locke (1992) and Chernoff (1979) among others shared their experiences in the cultures researched using the narratives of the people in their works as well as reflecting on their experiences during their research. Hence, narratives recorded during my field research and various interview sections constitute significant aspects of this work. My f ield research on the Yeve cult and its practices informally started many years back with relatives and fami ly members (both extended and immediate) whom I regularly visited at home or worked with on the farm. The opportunity of getting first hand information from some of these practitioners is reflected in the popular Ewe phrases Devi tso do, ye dua amesime nu or Devi tso do, ye wo na nue. This simply If a child is respectful and always help s his/her parents, family members or elders in his society, the society grows to l ike him/her and be proud of him/her. Hence, what ever that child needs be it money, clothing or knowledge, he/she shall receive it, if not from parents it will come from someone from the family or the society. M y relatives and family members contributed to this work by transmitting in depth knowledge on Ewe traditional 12 The description of this town is detailed in chapter two of the dissertation.
53 religious practices, social values and customs to me since I was a child. T he knowledge I acquired was also based on various testimonies from community members and elders My own respectfulne ss toward elders and traditional values and my willingness to serve and relate to people anytime they needed my assistance helped establish trust within the community. These are values that came from my parents and I am proud to say they are with me I ndig enous knowledge became a foundation in understanding certain religious practices and norms during my fieldwork. I also have to mention that both of my grandfathers 13 played significant roles in this processes. Hence, my relation with prominent elders, tradi tional ritual experts and knowledgeable community members greatly impacted and enriched my experience during this fieldwork. Interviews Organized fieldwork for this dissertation started in June of 2006 in Ave Dakpa after my disappointments at Whuti, my ho metown. Before starting any interviews Agbayiza Agbelifufu (my principal informant and the director of the local Yeve cult) and Mr. Prosper Awunyo 14 introduce d m e and my purpose d research in Ave Dakpa to the head Chief, Togbi Nyamekor IV, Patrick Ahiabu (th e assembly mayor) sub chiefs, elders and other political authorities. We also visited traditional religious leaders due to the spiritually challenging nature of my research. F or security reasons, the two men also 13 the head advisor on traditiona was the agbotadua for the late Togbi Tamakloe III of Whuti and also the chief consultant for rituals and war issues. 14 Prosper Awunyo was one of the elders who was at the engagem ent ceremony and initially spoke on my behalf to the high priest. Without him I would not have been accepted. Also, he arranged a room for me on his compound house which is fenced with cement wall with secure gates so that my field equipment was safe and secured. Later, I got to know that he was related to my grandmother and that my grandmother took care of him when he was growing up in Galo Sota, a remote town close to Anloga in the Volta region.
54 accompanied me to the police headquarters in Ave Dakpa where I registered myself and provided them with my contact information in case of any emergencies. After presenting myself to the local authorities I then had to go through an other screening process with the traditional religious leaders of the area to gain approval for my research and to cleans e of all my recording devices. Agbayiza requested that all my recording devices had to undergo ritual and cleansing processes to enable me get perfect recordings and photographs of Yeve activities Fo r almost a week at Ave Dakpa I went through these preparations to have the gods, deities or spirits approve of the recording instruments and myself so that I could begin my interviews and also be able to photograph deities and go to other sacred places. To paraphrase Agbayiza: You are about to get into spiritual realm of the gods and must be emotionally prepared and your mind focused on the rules. This is not easy but the gods confirm you have a good clean heart and they will be with you. When I say do not take photograph or enter a particular site respect my word. You will not videotape or take photographs of everything but I will help you understand everything. As you walk with me the same time, as you walk with me throughout the town everyone knows that you are learning from me. If anyone bother s or threaten s you just come talk to me. was made again August 20, 2011). After this initial week of preparations, I was ready to start my research without apprehension. Agbayiza explained to me that all the rituals and sacrifices of preparation allowed spirits and deities to thoroughly check my background and would free me from emotional and spiritual uncertainties. It is important to emphasize that different deities have rules related to the things they like and things they do not like. For instance, it is a taboo to commune with certain deities if you have had spouse or have been involved in a high level robbery or a m urder. In such cases, d eities may not allow that person to kneel in front of a particular
55 god to make a request or ask for a blessing. It is often said in Ewe : wo dzime me ko o; literally meaning eart is not clean ; or there is stain was involved in murder. Among the Yeve, such an offense is believed to result in severe consequences to the person and sometimes to his/her family. Such careful atten tion to ritual cleansing would not have been required for research into socio recreational musical types in the area The second week of fieldwork started rigorously with interviews about the history of the town. Two elders, Mr. Awunyo and Togbi Kofi Ekpet or (the land chief) consistently told me that in order to understand the traditional religious groups in Ave Dakpa, including Yeve, I would need to listen to the oral narratives about the migration of the ancestors and how Dakpa was founded. I must honestl y say that there was no written record on the history of Ave Dakpa people. 15 Elders of the town learned and maintained their history through a variety of oral narratives. During my fieldwork I arranged and met elders individually in their homes where I lis ten ed to their narratives about the town, migration accounts, occupation and their belief systems. Each interview session typically lasted between two and three hours with three follow ups to check for consistenc y and accuracy. In the follow ups I concentr ated on parts of the interviews that were not clear and asked for clarification of the meanings of coded phrases and metaphors. Some of the discussion of metaphors and concepts helped me construct new questions. Throughout the interview sections, some lead ers would answer my questions with songs. And I would ask, why that song? 15 Mr. Awunyo and I learned of a man whose father had report edly written on the migration of the Ewe into the local area Both Awunyo and I searched for this document on more than ten occasions over a period of five years. The man finally told us he could not find the written account.
56 It was obvious that some of the historical events that had occurred were not easlily remembered apart from their inclusion in certain songs recounting historical events For instance one song tells how the Ave Dakpa people were accidentally involved in the battle of Datsutagba in 1865 during their migration. Thus, by singing some of those songs they vividly remembered the event and the people who were involved. This happened many tim es during the interview s and underscore d to me the importance of song for sustaining memory and oral history. Besides the individual interviews, I also organized two other group interviews for selected elders in the form of a The forum gave me an opportunity to gather more information, to ask more questions and to compare versions of interviews that I had recorded. The forum became one of my greatest research moments. Not only did I learn the interesting histories of Ave Dakpa but was also able to observe elders as they correct ed misconceptions about some of the narratives and forged common agreements on specific narratives that actually justify the history of Ave Dakpa. It was interesting and rewarding to observe how h istory w as negotiated, revised and documented in such a social occasion. Comparing all the oral narratives collected in one on one and group interviews is is clear that almost all the elders have similar narratives of the history, migration accounts, settlements and the belief systems of Ave Dakpa. Togbi Nyamekor IV and elders such as Prosper Awunyo, Togbi Kofi Ekpotor, Agbayiza Agbelifufu, Patrick Ahiabu (Asembly man) have tremendously contributed to the historical discourse and the precision of its reality. I a lso conducted rigorous interviews with various traditional religious leaders and ritual experts on the Ave Dakpa belief systems, deities, gods, ancestors and their roles
57 in the society as well as Yeve specifically. It is apparent that these interview secti ons were often wearisome and challenging since most of my beliefs, their faith and their personal encounters. Agbayiza initially cautioned me that some people might not be willing to talk about their faith and personal relatio nship s with their gods. Indeed, m ost Yeve members were scared to talk with me because of the oath they ha d sworn with their deities with regards to certain secrets. As such, they believed that disclosing those secrets would subject them to the wrath of the gods. Due to this uncertainty I respected theid deeply felt beliefs and only interviewed those individuals who were freely willing to talk about their backgrounds and the consequences leading to becoming Yeve members. I interviewed some of the members in the presence of Agbayiza since he is the high priest of the cult. Other individuals consult ed their gods to ask permission to talk with me on religious issues. Those that the deities allowed to be interviewed were interviewed and those that were not allowe d were exempted. O ne of the female initiates Dashi Logosu informed me that she was asked to bring me to the shrine so that I could interview her in front of the deity. Therefore, the shrine is where I listened to her story. Basically, interviews with mem bers of the Yeve cult and some religious leaders were partially determined in consultation with their deities. By permission three Yeve members allowed me to directly document their interviews and report on them in my dissertation in order to give perspec tive to the readers of the consequences that led them to becoming Yeve members and also to demonstrate the power of the deities in choosing his/her members. Besides my interviews in Ave Dakpa, I also interviewed traditional scholars and individuals who ha ve deep knowledge and understanding on Yeve practices in Dzodze,
58 Keta, Anloga, Whuti, Srogboe, Atorkor and Tegbi towns all located in the southeastern part the Volta region where Yeve is actively practiced These interviews provided wider knowledge and a b roader perspective on the Yeve practices and history. Although my research is not comparative of Yeve practices in different towns I soon came to realize that Yeve was similar across the Volta region but contained local variations in the performance pract ice s of certain rituals. In September 2012, I received a travel grant from the Graduate S chool at the University of Florida that took me to the University of North Texas in Denton to interview Professor Midawo Alorwoyi, a high priest of the Yeve cult, chi ef drummer and the head Chief of Tsinu people in Afife, Ghana. Professor Midawo gave his perspective since he became a member and a chief drummer of the Yeve cult in Afiadenyigba. His narratives and experience validated the data gathered throughout my fiel d research. I also visited Professor C. K Ladzekpo 16 at University of California at Berkeley. I spent two weeks interviewing him and understanding the nature of traditional history and the concept and organization of religious musics. Participant Observ ati on Besides the interviews, participation and observation constitute significant aspects of th e ethnographic research for this study. This became extremely important in understanding the practical components of konuworworwo (ritual performances) yeduduwo (t ypes of dancing), atsiawo (gestural movements) and vufofowo (drumming styles) practiced in the Yeve cult. Despite my preliminary initiation rituals anytime I 16 C. K. Ladzekpo is one of th e Ladzekpo brothers who came to the United States in the early 1960s to introduce and establish Ghanaian traditional dance drumming and cultural practices. He and his brothers were important personalities in the promotion and the dissemination of the knowl edge system in performing dance drumming of the Ewe speaking people. He is knowledgeable on Ewe traditional religious custom, values, and institutions especially on those involving Yeve.
59 participate d in a new activity or ritual I ha d to organize materials for a libation performance t o ask permission from the deities so that I would not be denied the opportunity to observe or participate in the activity when it occurred In reality, while a researcher can interview and gather lots of information to participate in rituals and partake i n what is being performed gives unique insights and experience To enable me to comprehend the in depth nature of certain complex rituals I became a suborvi which means a servant. As a suborvi I was able to work closely with my principal informant Agbelif ufu by helping him carry ritual objects, and bags of ritual materials This also allowed me to follow him to religious events dressed in my own ritual cloth Had it not been for th e opportunities afforded this position, my understanding of the rituals woul d have been impossible. A major disctinction between Yeve performance and socio recreational musical performance is that Yeve performance does not occur spontaneously. The dance drumming of Yeve is not performed because someone simply wants to see the per formanc e but rather as part of an event such as the funeral of a deceased member, an initiation, a graduation, as part of cleansing ceremonies and at regular annual events. Therefore it could be frustrating for a researcher interested Yeve to learn that t here may be only one performance of a particular ritual that will take place during an entire year. Because of this, o ne form of my participation was through private lessons I received from talented lead dancers, song leaders and drummers. Since my partici pation during public performances was not encouraged, I went to rituals to observe the performance and relate it to what I had been learning with the members in the cult house. Dancers and song leaders such as Kora Avudzivi, Dadzengo Logosu,
60 Avlesi Agbeli, Kora Vivor, Dashi Amenu, Gbeda Dzogblah and Amenutsi Sosoo and lead drummers like Tsale Agbelifufu and Togbinye Agbelifufu have played important roles as my instructors throughout my entire research. They taught me if not all, at least the basic and most important dance movements and gestures together with their meaning s and relat ion s to specific rituals. Sometimes the dances are based on the songs and not drum rhythms. Avle and Dashi instructed me with the skills and technical means they had acquired over many years into matters of tempo, free rhythm, strict timing They also taught me many different songs and their suface and deeper meanings This included s ongs that venerate a particular deity, spirit or god and the songs that are sung during specific da nce drumming styles. From 2006 until the present Tsale and Torgbinye have remained my instructors in Yeve drumming. Tsale especially has instructed me in the various types of drum texts and language performed for each of the seven dance drumming types of Yeve Tsale not only enriched my drumming skills but also my knowledge about the organization of Yeve drumming, types of rhythms, techniques, drum texts that praise and provoke deities during specific moments in rituals and dance performances. Tsale also s hared his esoteric knowledge about the deities around which he organizes his drum texts and rhythmic phrases closely in connection with a particular ritual event. Participating and observing the ritual forms and how they entwine with dance drumming was rem arkable and has given me new perspective for thinking about the ways people musically perform their rituals as Yeve members. Restrictions and Ethics Although certain religious traditions such as afa brekete hogbato occasionally allow non member participa tion in the Yeve cult p articipation is strictly for members and
61 restricted from ahevi (non members). However, a Yeve member from another town can participate in a Yeve performance without any question, but out of respect the visitor must present him/herse lf to the high priests and priestesses before dancing as a means of exchanging greetings. If the priests and the priestesses already know the visiting member, this reinforce s and strengthen s relationships between the two local cults. It is also important t o emphasize that, despite the rituals I under went that qualified me to participate and observe various activities of the cult on many occasions I was restricted and even forbidden from certain sites, sacred forests and during magico spiritual moments Acc ording to the Yeve belief system, this was done for my own safety and wellness. There were also restrictions to certain places I could not go by myself or at specific times of the day and night because those times and locations were reserved for the gods t o indulge in certain activities for the benefit of the community. As such, everyone in the town (both Yeve members and non members) respect that custom. In July 2006, my still photo camera got broken after photographing a deity I was not supposed to photog raph. This deity was located in some thick bush almost half a mile from the house where I was staying. In my understanding of the instructions I received, I though t selected locations and a few deities mentioned were the only ones I should not visit at sp ecific times. While on errands I decided to take a photograph of this huge tall deity. I to o k two photograph s but the pictures were blank and the camera became very hot and I started feeling dizzy. I was lucky to see some farmers returning from a farm who realized that I was a stranger in the area To my surprise they already kn e w that I was studying with Agbayiza so they took me to one of their house s I told Agbayiza what happened and he decided to perform sacrifices and prepare some herbs for me to drin k.
62 My camera literally cracked and I had to buy a new one to continue my research. I will never forget that experience. I do not know what would have happened to me if those farmers had not come to my rescue. They cautioned me not to go there again even in the accompaniment of someone This was event was clearly interpreted as an example of the consequences for going against Yeve customs. In addition, Agbayiza and a few other priests discussed what I should and should not publish about Yeve in my dissertati on. Agbayiza had me witness certain rituals without allowing them to be video tap ed just for the benefit of understanding the process. As such, some information that I obtained will not be documented in this dissertation as part of the agreement I made and out of respect for their custom s Scholars such as Agawu (2003) and Barz & Cooley (2009) have discussed the ethical issues that fieldworkers encounter during field research. Based on the contexts of those ethics with regards to the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa I agreed not to documents or publish materials I have been asked not to put in my dissertation. Languages and Dialects Language is crucial to all of the research I have conducted. Various scholars have emphasized the role of language in conducting field r esearch especially research conducted in non native languages (see Agawu 2003). All of my interviews were done in Ewegbe, (Ewe) except for small portion of interview s where a few people unconsciously interrupted with English phrases. The Ave people speak a variant of Ewe that is different from the Anlo Ewe (my mother tongue) but could be understood by an attentive native listener. 17 Also, as mentioned earlier, the Yeve cult has its own 17 I will discuss in detail the components of this language in chapte r 2 with specific examples.
63 language spoken by initiates under seclusion. Therefore throughout my fi eld research I was dealing with these three versions of the Ewe language; Anlogbe (Ewe language spoken by the Anlo people), Avegbe (variation of Ewe dialects spoken by the Ave people) and Yevegbe (the cult language). It was not difficult for me to understa nd the Ave Ewe dialects because most of my friends at college sp oke similar dialects except that a few words that were confusing. The cult language however, wa s very difficult and challenging but I have been taking lessons on the basic phrases, numerals an d terminologies since 2006 in addition to those I learned from my relatives when I was younger. Despite the challenges in learning the cult language, there were also similarities in certain names and words in relation to the Ewe language itself. Thanks to the family of Agbayiza who volunteered many hours in instructing me, I was able to interact in that language. However, I sometimes struggled with understanding some of the statements made. Research Assistants I was lucky to have the services of two great research assistants who played significant roles throughout my field research in Ave Dakpa. They are Torgbinye Agbelifufu and Fianu Matthew (aka Tomori). Torgbinye is the son of Mr. Fianu and was my student at the University of Ghana and now teaches music and cultural studies at Abor Senior High School. Torgbinye is very powerful physically and spiritually and served as a guard as well as a research assistant. He has contributed tremendously to my understanding of rituals, language (especially the Ave varia nt of the Ewe language) and guidance through every corner of the town. Through his popularity many people who were reluctant to be interviewed became my best friends.
64 Mr. Fianu also contributed a lot especially from his language backgrounds and his ability to speak Ave dialect, Anlo Ewe and English. Sometimes when I thought I underst ood everything Mr. Fianu would put me back on track if I was thinking about a concept in Anlo terms and not the way Ave people understand. When I am in the United States, Mr. F ianu substitutes and records event in collaboration with Agbayiza and Torgbinye so that I can understand events that I was not personally able to attend. Also, in case of any changes he will explain them to me. Thanks to Internet availability and S kype, I am able to talk one on one with Mr. Fianu with detailed explanation of the coverage. These two gentlemen have been a great support in all aspects of this research. Data Transcription, Transliteration, Analyses and Interpretation Fieldwork for this study is nearly entirely recorded in Anlogbe (Anlo Ewe) and Avegbe (Ave dialect/language). Thus, audio and video recordings have been transcribed and transliterated from these languages in to English. It is very obvious that some words, phrases or sentences wha t is known among the Ewe speaking people as adagana (proverbs and metaphors), (see Kwashikuma 1991) to some extent cannot find an appropriate meaning in English. I have given the closest examples of those phrases and proverbs and cite examples of how the y might be thought of in English In the case of drumming, I have tried to shift from what most scholars have done with West African drumming by providing descriptive information on the sizes, heights, measurement s of sticks and basic techniques of drummi ng. Locke (1987) discussed the accurate techniques of holding drumming sticks while Pantaleoni (1972) discussed the techniques (what hand is used for a particular tone) in playing sogo and atsimevu in Atsia. It is also evident that traditional drum perform ance cannot be completely or
65 accurately transcribed on to paper because the perception of the music in the mind of the master drummer is unknown to the analyst. 18 The transcription s presented and analyzed in this study concentrate on the principal drum patte rns on each dance drumming and the drum texts that were associated with them. I have not transcribed the entire performances. However, consistent patterns such as the gakogui (bell) axatse (rattle), kagan (fist support drum) have been transcribed. In addit ion, patterns such as introductory phrases, lead drum patterns and their responses have been notated in a way that it can be played and sung using vugbe (drum mnemonics). I have transcribed the drum patterns using common western musical notion because this is the most commonly used in music scholarship and communicate s discrete information about the musical structure and performance practices With regard to songs, there are songs in free rhythms and strict rhythms. I have transcribed the songs with their i ndigenous harmonies. I have decided to transcribe all songs in the key of C major to facilitate comparison among the repertoire All transcribed melodies have their verbal text inserted with the literal and deeper interpretations on the bottom of the pages Both the songs and the drumming were transcribed and then notated using the software F inale 2009. With dance, I mainly concentrated on the analyses of movements and the interpretation of certain gestures. I did not employ any Laban analysis in this secti on. However, I have attempted to interpret the dances based on traditional esoteric knowledge of men and women who have vast experience with these dances and of the Yeve cult. Despite my knowledge in the study of dance, I was cautioned not to use 18 See Anku (1999)
66 heavily a cademic terminologies to interpret the Yeve dances. I have critically been guided and instructed how to study, analyze and interpret each dance piece to represent how the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa performs their dances. Equipment Throughout my entire research I have used different digital equipment for data collection and processing. The equipment us ed since 2006 until now include : 60x optical zoom DCR SR68 Sony Handycam (80GB inbuilt hard drive and memory cards), 20x optical zoom DCR HC26 Handycam (with MiniD V tapes), Sony MZ N707 MD audio recorder, MacBook Pro computer (also has an option for recording) and 10MP Nikon Coolpix L100 still camera The video and audio recordings facilitated my interviews, songs and analyses of drumming and dancing. The photograph s from Nikon 10MP Nikon Coolpix L100 camera have provided evidence of people interviewed, ritual objects, chiefs and elders, musicians, dancers, singers, types of instruments and sections of performances. Besides all these recording devices, I have also ca rried an external hard drive to transfer all recorded files in case of any emergency or unexpected situation(s). Limitations One of the major impediments of this study encountered during research was the limited access of audio and video sources for study The available texts found in the libraries were discussed as literature reviews. It was also difficult to get audio and video recordings of the Yeve musical practices perhaps due to the restrictions of the cult. As part of my field research, I went into t he archives and recoding departments of Ghana Broadcasting Cooperation (GBC), Ghana Television (GTV), TV3 station, Metro Television (MetroTV) but was unsuccessful in finding any recordings on Yeve. I further
67 went to other archives of the Institute of Afric an Studies at the University of Ghana and local libraries at Keta, Anloga, Ho and including the center for national culture. Unfortunately there were no recordings of Yeve cult and their musical ceremonies. Generally, in all the institutions, libraries and centers I visited there were countless number of social musical events recorded and only a few traditional religious types but no Yeve. Chapter Overviews C hapter 1 of this study introduces the research context and my own history with this research in my own hometown, Whuti and an unexpected connection with the town Ave Dakpa, where I ended up. It also presents the methodology used in acquiring the information and how it is presented in this study. Chapter 2 provides detailed historical accounts on the to wn of the Ave Dakpa and its peoples. The chapter traces the historical origin and myth relating to the migration accounts from Glime or Hogbe historically known among the Ewes as Notsie through Bakpa and to their present settlement in Ave Dakpa. It also di scusses Amesikpe Za (festival) as the principal annual festival organized to commemorate the migration and the survival of ancestors and their roles as founders of Ave Dakpa. The chapter further describes the demographics, economic and agricultural, major occupations, language, religions and different cultural practices of the people. Known for their power and religiosity the chapter examines the belief systems of the people in general and in relation to a variety of traditional religious groups in the town Chapter 3 investigates the origin of the Yeve, their cult and the various form s of practices associated with it. It also discusses and argues for Yeve as a form of religion and describes the various components of its cult and transformations. It also gi ves
68 detailed descriptive accounts of membership and initiations and critically examines factors that enable victimized non members to become members. The chapter further describes hierarchies, types of ritual cloths, specific ritual objects, deities and sp irits and their functions in and outside the cult. Chapter 4 discusses principal ritual practices and order in the cult. It explains ritual processes such as tsifodi (libation), alagadzedze (defilement), alagalele (rescue process of defiled members) adza letsilele (ritual performed for the deceased before he/she is buried) and others that are central and vital to the customs and values of the cult. Besides the ritual forms, the Yeve cult also extends its services to the community by protecting the right of people and eradicating criminals from the society. By that, this chapter discusses the Yeve cult as a powerful force and mechanisms for crime prevention in Ewe societies by the wrath of the thunder god, So Chapter 5 begins describes the general organiza tion of Yeve dance drumming performance. It discusses the significance of drummers and their status, the training of drummers and types of musical instruments used in performance. It also presents transcriptions of different rhythmic patterns and their spe ech mode through the use of drum texts. There are seven dance drummings performed as a suite namely husago adavu aforvu ako sovu avlevu and davu This chapter presents and analyzes the meaning of the drum texts performed in this suite and discusses ho w the drum texts ignite specific rituals and send performers into the realms of the spirits and ancestors. Some of the drummings are specific to particular deities. As such, critical examinations have been given to those pieces together with an in depth di scussion on the distinctive themes or rhythmic patterns in context.
69 Chapter 6 concentrates on dances performed during Yeve events and as such contributes to the understanding of the previous chapter since music and dance are inseparable. Although most of the dances seem to have basic movements of agbadza (the oldest social and funeral dance of the Ewes) their energy varies from one dance to the other giving it new meanings and expressions in performance. The chapter further analyzes important gestures and interprets them on physical and spiritual levels and their relationship with the drum patterns. Finally, chapter 7 explores the ranges of Yeve songs that accompany both drumming and ritual performances. It further examines the song texts and exposes the e ducational and moral values embedded in its performance for both Yeve members and the community. This chapter also lists and transcribes songs that venerate deities, spirits, ancestors and advises on the ethics of the cult. The chapter finally presents tra nscriptions of the songs on a western staff with the texts inserted in it to facilitate the understanding of its performance and structure. Chapter 8 is a conclusion that summarizes and emphasizes the importance of this research and its relevances. It exp lains the significance of Ave Dakpa history, religious beliefs and the relationship between the Yeve cult members and the general populace. It also explains the services the Yeve cult provides to the town and individual members irrespective of their religi ous background. The Chapter concludes with the contribute to this dissertation
70 CHAPTER 2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF AVE DAKPA Location and People Dakpa is a small town located o n the main Aflao Ho road in the southeastern part of the Volta region in Ghana It is approximately 40 45 miles north to Ho, the capital city of the Volta region and a little over 50 miles south to Aflao near the Ghana Togo boarder. The name Dakpa is a sh ortened form of Dakpalawo Dakpalawo migration that is discussed below The Ave that precedes Dakpa (Ave Dakpa) refers to the original nature of the landscape or the environment before the Ewe ancestors ancestors reached this area the entire landscape was a forest. In modern times one can still see lots of forestry areas within the Ave district. Thus, the towns within the district have Ave preceding them. For example other towns within the Ave district are: Ave Atanve, Ave Xevi, Ave Havi, Ave Alagbe, Ave Afiadenyigba and Ave Adzanu among others. In late 2011, Dakpa became the distr ict headquarters of the Ave District with a population of roughly two thousand six hundred (2,600) residents based on 2008 national census. The town is grouped in three localities namely Agudza, Avenu and Dzita. These names are assigned to the areas to geo graphically understand and help other s to easily get around the town. There are three main religions practiced in Dakpa: Traditional, Christianity and Islamic religions. On the average, 65% of the populations are traditional religious practitioners, 25% Ch ristians, 0.2% Muslims and 9.8% do not
71 belong to any of these religions. The religious practices are discussed later in this chapter. Figure 2 1 Togbi Nyamekor IV Chief of Ave Dakpa in regalia at his palace Figure 2 2 Togbi Ekpetor III (in whi te cloth) The land Chief of Ave Dakpa
72 Migration Narratives of Ave Dakpa The migration of the ancestors of Ave Dakpa was an intriguing history to learn. M igration narratives are found in oral testimonies collected among groups of Ave D akpa elders. The se various narratives have been compared thoroughly and approved for accuracy by the elders. Below, I present a synthesized account of the migration derived from the narratives I collected. The migration account of the people of Ave Dakpa is similar to that of the Israelites crossing the Red S ea under the leadership of Moses as described in the Bible (see Exodus chapter 14) Similar to all other Ewes, the ancestors of Ave Dakpa migrated from Glime also known as Notsie, the ancestral home of the Ewe s Several oral accounts in addition to scholars of Ewe history, literalture and cultures such as Amenumey (1986; 1989; 1997) Green (2002 ), Agbodeka (1997), Laumann (2005), Lawrence (2005), Nukunya (1997), Kumassah (2009), Gbolonyo (2009) Gayibor and Aguigah (2005), and Mamattah (1976) among others maintain that the Ewe speaking people migrated from Notsie. Legend has it that the migration was a result of inhuman and unbearable tasks the king Togbi Agorkorli I imposed on the people. For example, it is recounted that he ordered the people to make a rope out of clay mixed with broken glasses and thorns, and relentlessly punished those who did not obey him. Although everyone at Notsie w as under the general rule of Togbi Agorkorli I various groups of people had their ow n local leaders who plotted an escape. The plan led to the migration of various groups out of Notsie. Unlike the Anlo Ewe people, this group of people (Ave Dakpa ancestors) took a different route during the migration under the leadership of four legendary leaders namely Togbi Kutor, Kofi Ekpetor, Atta Kofi and Ashagbor who were know to possess a variety of spiritual powers. Oral history recounts that they stayed
73 briefly among the Akuamu people who were then ruling part of the Eweland on the boarder of Volta and Eastern region s Recounting thi s history Amenumey cited Sorkpor (1966) about the Ak especially the Anlo people. He writes: Akwamu succeeded in subjugating not only the Gas and some other tribes West of the Volta but also most of all the Ewe tribes east of the Volta including the tradition that at one time the Awuna were under the 32). The next place t hey settled was among a Mafi town called Mafi Kutibolor. The Mafi area is around Adidome in the Volta r egion close to the Lower Volta B rid ge popularly known as Sogakope B ridge. According to Togbi Kofi Ekpetor III Mafi was a twin city and the ancestor of Av e Dakpa settled in the geographically central part of Mafi Kutibolor. Traditionally, any visitor or stranger who move s into a new town is easily recognized and must establish their relationships by introducing themselves to members of the town and are acco mpan ied by elders who introduce their presence to the chief of the town. As such, Dakpa ancestors and their multitude have established themselves nicely to the community both with the citizens and the royal authorities. During the stay among the Mafi peopl e the four ancestor s of Ave Dakpa committed atrocit ies against one of their neighbors that resulted in fights between the Ave Dakpa ancestors and the original inhabitants of Mafi people. The four legendary ancestors Togbi Kutor, Kofi Ekpetor, Atta Kofi a nd Ashagbor met separately to deliberate on issues concerning the group s they were in charge of. These gatherings according Mr. Awunyo, t ook place in the bush so that no one overheard their
74 discussion. Additionally, the four men ha d different dzokawo (ch arms). For instance, some ha d zigi dzo (a type of charm or magic that can make one vanish or turn in to something else animal, leaves or some object), amlima tsisti ( a charm to conjure something up ) and gbogbome nukpolawo ( a charm for perceiving spiritua l it y). These four men regularly t ested each other with different charms and magic One day they were gathered again in their deliberation s and saw a pregnant woman slowly walking to her farm on another bush road. The four men started speculating about the gender of the bab y predicted a boy others a girl and another person predicted twin boy s there ensued arguments between the four elders that led to a bet about the baby How would this result be determined? The four men walked to the direction of the pregnant woman. When they got to her they attacked her and operated on the woman and she died. However, they realized the baby in her womb was a boy. When they found out that the baby was a boy they wrapped the dead woman and put her in hotome. 1 An old custom practiced before the migration of Ave Dakpa group from Notsie was that when people die they shave half of their head bald before they bury them. As the pregnant woman died the four men shaved half o f her hair before she was hidden. Unfortunate y for these Ave Dakpa leaders, while this operation was going on there was a boy who was scared and hid himself in the bush and witnessed all that happened to the pregnant woman and ho w her hair was shaved. Two weeks after the incidence, there were announcements throughout the town of a missing pregnant woman who had left her house and never returned. Struggling 1 Hotome is Ave word to describe a thick bush are or environment
75 with this secret the boy who had witnessed the action of the men went to palace and reported all that he saw and described the location where the woman was hidden to the chief and his royal men. According to Togbi Ekpetor III, the boy said, amedzro siwo va dze mi la, wu funo le agble mota, kpa da afa ne, he tsoe de hotome (interview with Togbi Ekpetor III, April 15, 2012). On hearing this tragic new s the chief gathered his counselors to arrest the four Ave Dakpa leaders and possibly kill them and take the rest of their people captives. Even before this tragic news was reported to the chief and his council the ancestors of Ave Dakpa foresaw the conseq uence s of their actions and secretly plan ned an escape before the town wa s aware of their evil deed. Deep in the night the Ave Dakpa migrants escap ed in small numbers from Mafi Kutibolor while their four leaders stood guard physically and spiritually. Aft er a long deliberation the chief of Mafi Kutibolor organized his warriors and brave men to surround the territory where Ave Dakpa migrants were residing and set part of their property ablaze with the idea of start ing a fight Throughout this operation they consistently refer red to the four men as dakpalawo, the people who shaved the hair of the woman. Oral account s maintain that they did not find anyone in their location or compound area. Mafi Kutibolor warriors started searching every possible route to find the Ave Dakpa leaders and their groups. Finally, they found a few Ave Dapka who were already dead from exhaustion and others with severe injuries caused by walking through the dangerous forest. The warriors finally heard their enemies lament ing around the Mafi Bakpa river where the Ave Dakpa people had been stranded because there
76 was no means to cross the river. From a distance, t he Ave Dapka heard the sounds of the Mafi Kutibolor warriors pursuing them. As the Ave Dakpa people were about to surrender to Mafi Kutibolor warriors, Togbi Kutor, the most spiritually powerful among the ir leaders moved a few distance from the rest of the group to pray to the gods and deities. According to oral history, Togbi Kutor heard a voice instruct him to put his walkin g stick into the river. This was the stick that he often use d to protect the group during difficult and precarious situations. This time all hope seemed to be lost because Mafi Kutibolor warriors were close and ready to fight Acting according to what the gods commanded Togbi Kutor walked to the river and prayed for the second time and dip ped his walking stick into the Bakpa river. There appeared a huge rock in the river unfolding to the other end of its shore. With no hesitation, Togbi Kutor led his people across the rock. As the Ave Dakpa people walked on the rock the Mafi Kutibolor warriors chased them on to that same rock to capture them. Togbi Kutor evoked the gods again and the rock slowly disappeared thereby causing the entire Mafi Kutibolor warrior s t o perish in to the middle of the deep river. The magical rock on which they walk ed across the Bakpa river appeared again and led them safely to their present home named Ave Dakpa. The rock was named Amesikpe l exists and is believed to work mysteriously to protect the entire Ave people anytime it is invoked appropriately. Amesikpe became a trusted rock and a major god for which Ave people especially Ave Dakpa inhabitants. Several oral accounts of Dakpa chiefs and elders testify that the ancestors who survived the migration were further instructed by the gods to establish shrines and cults
77 to protect, intercede and alert Ave Dakpa in times of danger. The Yeve cult is one among the many shrines that was institut ed in Ave Dakpa for this purpose. This was how the town Ave Dakpa was formed with strong religious beliefs rooted in the legacy of Amesikpe the rescued stone. Every year a migration festival is cele brated in honor of the ancestors and the significance of Amesikpe in the life of the people. Also, the name Dakpa derived from how the four legendary leaders shaved the hotome The name became attache migration journey. Therefore dakpalawo became shortened to Dakpa and the town become known as Ave Dakpa. An Invocation of a State Ave Dakpa Ave Dakpa became one of the town s in the s outheastern part of the Volta region of Ghana. Like Ave Dapka, each other town within the southeastern territory of the Anlo State has its own history of origin recounted through oral narratives. For instance, the town Anlo or Anloga was named based on the statement one of the Ewe leaders Togbi Wenya made during the migration journey. Togbi Wenya was the legendary leader who led the Anlo people from Notsie to their present settlement. When he was tired and he could not move further he said, nye la me nlo de afisia he has to understand it from historical perspective especially how the people migrated from Notsie. Each town is established on a partic ular philosophy or on important occurrences. Oral narratives explaining the philosophy and the occurrences primarily express the
78 hope and aspirations of the people. The philosophies are occasionally invoke d to awaken and refresh the memory of the community members. The invocation, which is mostly in the colloquial Ewe language, metaphor or in some coded phrases, reflects the those phrases. This is also true of the town Av e Dakpa. The name Ave Dakpa ed during the migration and is sometimes played on the agblovu (the Ewe talking drum) and sometimes recited orally It is not however, played or reci ted for fun or used as a memor ized verse during social occasions It is played or recited at important ceremonial events in the words below. 1. Dakpa sovi aga 2. Mina misi blukutu 3. Gbo de, gbo tsi 4. Ale yi, ale gbo 5. Dunome mase menya 6. Eso wo nyidi me 7. Makemake kuo ke 8. Ekpo le dzi 9. 10. Dakpa, the sufferer (servant/town) Let us all unite The goat went but has not returned The sheep went and returned A town you live in without comprehending its affairs groin One dares it not There is a hill atop it There is a hole beneath it The bottom hole is evermore there Below is a brief explanation of how the invocation translate s practically in the I base this explanation on the deep knowledge and historical understanding s of Togbi Ekpetor III and Mr. Awunyo whose information I transl ated in to English. 1. Dakpa sovi aga primarily makes reference to the four legendary Ave Dakpa ancestor s Togbi Kutor, Togbi Ekpetor, Togbi Ashiagbor and Atta Kofi. It recounts the suffering of these leaders throughout the migration journey as a memory and part of Ave Dakpa history. It also pays tributes to the group members who died during the journey and those wh o made to land of Ave Dakpa but are now ancestors.
79 2. Mina misi blukutu of Ave Dakpa. Despite individual, family or religious differences that may exist the people reflect on history of how their forefathers struggle d before establishing the town. As such, the town unites one and encourages the youth not to see differences but work together for the development of the town. 3. Gbo de, gbo tsi Dakpa custom symbolizes a person who thinks they are wise and knows a lot with a self life and he does not like to make tough decisions among other things. This ad age comes in to play during the decision making at Notsie to escape under King id not want to join the escape group and be caught. If they were caught the punishments would have been un bearable and inhuman. Togbi Ekpetor III describes a goat as an inquisitive animal that likes to look critically into something. The people who decided to stay were rather severely punished for the action of the escape group. The phrase therefore categorize s these people as perished ones. 4. Ale yi, ale gbo goat, the sheep symbolizes people who acknowledge life and are ready to make changes. They are open to ideas and advice and are ready to im plement the advice with the hope of mak ing a difference. In relation to the goat, the sheep are the people who listened to the advice of their elders and escaped. They understand the situation as one of mean t not being caught a being caught. Therefore those who listen to the advice of their leaders did not perish and are represent ed by the sheep that went and returned. 5. Dunome mase emenya affairs. This sentence instantly portrays the nature of the town and can be analyzed in different situations. The sentence is also part of the Anlo State invocation as well (see Kumassah 2009). 6. Esor wo nyidi me used by the Ave Nyidi me is actually the hidden part between the abdomen and the thighs of a horse. It is believed that when a person places something there it is safe, secure and no one can touch it or steal it. It is only a person who owns something who can place it there and no other person. In context, Ave Dakpa ancestors according to oral history founded the land on which people reside until now. They therefore believe that no one can take the land from them because they own it. Additionally, Amesikpe the fervent god that rescue d Ave Dakpa ancestors came down through the spiritual leadership of the four legendary ancestors of Ave Dakpa. The significance of this phrase is to hail Ave Dakpa as the aut horities and owners, more importantly considered the head in all things. Coincidentally, it was this phrase that was considered in review of Ave history why Ave Dakpa became the district headquarters of the entire Ave district.
80 7. Makemake kuo ke literally t This adage can also be translated in many contexts and situations. However, here this invocation relates to the town itself and its people. It is true that Ave Dakpa is one of the oldest and smallest town s in the Ave district. Ave Dakpa is also known as a center of town is spiritually and secretly on alert. For instance, if anyone plots to destroy a certain part of the town the spi ritual authorities will foresee th e event and cause the person arrest. This arrest can be in a form of charming the person in to confess ion or subjecting the person to the wrath of the thunder god. It is a small wonderful town but at the same time precari ous. If a person treats the local residents nicely the person will see the good side of them but when a person maltreats them they see the opposite side. As such, no one provokes them. 8 9 and 10 t [the town] and a probe or interfere into the affairs of Ave Dakpa and its people. Thi s warning is usually given to strangers who like to pass judgments without investigation and to political leaders who use their power to impose their own way without the consideration of citizens. This individual can easily be a victim (of any kind) to the town physically or spiritually. The two phrases are threats and can possibly result to loss of human life. Na, na, naa is just an emphasis that what ever is planned will surely happen and also give stress the entire invocation as a description of Ave Dakp a and its people. Belief System and Religious Practices There are three main categories of religion practiced in Ave Dakpa : Christianity, Islam and African traditional religions. P articipation in traditional religion is relatively large and involves a maj ority of the people. Christian ity represents a fairly large community but has fewer members than traditional religious believers. Muslims represent the smallest religious community in Ave Dakpa. However, during certain ceremonies and events it is difficult to know who actually is a Muslim or traditional believer. As a small town, people tend to support each other within the community. As such an individual may wear the clothing of other religious groups especially in the case of Muslim s who wear those cloth es to support and perhaps with the purpose to increase the Muslims number during a particular event. For instance, most Christians and
81 traditional believers do not have specific attire in Ave Dakpa except for Yeve people who have their own identity through the type of beads and necklaces they wear. Muslims on the other hand, wear long dresses with their women covering their hair or head with scarfs. They do not wear shirts that are front opened. In Ave Dakpa a few people wear Muslim clothing although they a re not Muslims. In my conversation with a few people in the town it was explain to me that they only do that to support a particular group or religion. Despite the various religious backgrounds represented in Ave Dakpa there is a strong feeling of communi ty in the town Christianity Similar to other parts of the world Christianity in Ave Dakpa is divided into various denominations such as Presbyterian, Catholic and Pentecostal or Charismatic churches. The Christian denominations in t he town are the Roman Catholic C hurch (R.C), Assemblies of God, Church of Pentecost, New Covenant Church, World Mission Church, Sitsofe Church, Brotherhood Church, Christ Apostolic Church, Church of Christ and Global Evangelical Presbyterian Church. All these churches worship the Almighty God through Jesus Christ the savior who intercede s and send s human request s to God, his Father. It is difficult to get information regarding when the churches were first established. However, from most accounts the C atholic C hurch is perhaps the oldest church that was established in Ave Dakpa. These churches have their own doctrines and schedules of worship. However, during funerals, engagements and wedding ceremonies all Christian churches come together to celebrate as a community of Christ ia ns without any of them imposing their doctrines on the other.
82 The various churches mentioned organize bible studies sessions to teach the members of the congregations the word of God. The bible studies take place twice a week. There are also various group s fellowship, youth groups, singing bands, church choirs and prayer warriors. Each of these groups within the church ha s a specific day and times they meet and rehearse for Sunday morning service where they a ll perform. The duration of the church services last between three to four hours starting from 9:00am or 9:30 am to 1:00pm. Islam Islamic religion, according to some, is presumed to have arrived around the mid or late 1970s. It started with a few Muslim t raders who s old cloths or fabrics for sewing shirts, pants and suits. They normally come from Togo, Dzodze Denu, Aflao and other places where these products are relatively cheap and they sell it to others and make more profit. Some of them later rented sma ll stores to serve as warehouse s for their supplies and also as a location to pr ay As more trade continue d with the town it attracted more Muslim s Although there is no mosque in Ave Dakpa local Muslims go s to perform prayers. The Muslims reside at Zongo a Ghanaian term referring to a residential area of Muslims. There is only one mosque located in the neighboring town called Ave Afiadenyigba, three miles away. Muslims in Ave Dakpa leave for Ave Afiadenyigba every Friday for commu nal worship. For the other days of the week, they stay with their house to house worship. The Muslims believe in Allah and send request s to Allah through his messenger prophet Mohamed.
83 Traditional Religion Traditional religion and its practices started in Dakpa by the Ewe ancestors who founded the town. The traditional worshipers strongly believe in an Almighty God and are knowledgeable about him and his works. They also believe that God is very far from his people and therefore in need intermediaries such as Mohamed and Jesus. Similar to the other Ewes, there are three major types of traditional worship in Ave Dapka These are vodu (deities) tro (spirits) and togbeawo (ancestors). S cholars of African religion have extensively discussed the role of deities, spirits, ancestors and their relationship to man and God. 2 Deities are conceptualized as visible images that are consulted. They can be carved, mounted or exist as a kind of sacred grove (see Blier 1989). Individuals also possess personal deities in the f orm of clay figures, specific stones or other objects (see Rosenthal 1999). Spirits on the other hand are not normally visible but can pay visit s to individuals Describing th e nature of spirits Mbiti says, ves visib 78). As such some of these deities and spirits have shrines and cults in their honor Examples of the shrines and cult the deities are attached to in Ave Dakpa are mamiwata shrine, koku cult, amesikpe adzima ablode and Yeve cul t. There is also an important deity that protects and guides the town known as du legba the god of the crossroad. 3 The du legba is Ave are going wrong with the town. For instance, du legba is consulted when there is an 2 See Mbiti (1990), Opoku (1987), Adegbola (1998) and Parrinder (1970) 3 See Friedson (2009) and many other
84 epidemic of disease affecting everyone in the community. The du legba gives advice for what should be done to resolve the situations. Ancestral veneration is also important in Ave Dakpa. The people believe in the existe nce of togbeawo (ancestors) and consider them as advisors. Ancestors are not considered to be any dead person however, they are those who led a good life and have contributed to impact human beings with work, life, character and spiritual life. For example murderers, thieves, cruel people, irresponsible people, greedy people and those who badly hurt a community cannot be venerated as ancestors when they die. The deities, spirits and the ancestors are worshipped through offerings and sacrifices. The sacrif ices and offerings are sacred gifts and sometimes it can be a specific animal that is use for the sacrifice. Each morning the individuals pray and commit their daily activities into the hands of these deities and ask of their guidance and blessings. They s trongly believe that the deities and ancestors are intermediaries who send their requests to the Almighty God. It is important to note that people in Ave Dakpa live as a closely knit community and treat each other with respect regardless of differing rel igious background. It is no doubt that the missionary attitude towards other regions especially traditional religion For example, in some communities when a traditiona l religious believer greets a Christian he/she does not respond because the traditional believer is considered ungodly. With these differences that I have personally witness ed in Ghana and in the Volta region my observation is that there is no t strong reli gious discrimination in Ave Dakpa.
85 Occupation The major occupation in Ave Dakpa is farming and trading. Others are fishing, weaving and operation of local restaurants popularly referred to as chop bar. Some of the community members who were ed ucated and c ertified at teacher s training colleges became school teachers who are employed to teach in Primary, Junior High and Senior Hi gh schools in Ave Dakpa. There is large scale and small scale farm ing in Ave Dapka Large scale farmers grow a variety of crops for profit. They send their products to local food processing companies and then to competitive large markets. The small scale farmers on the other hand grow specific crops primarily for their own consumption. However, if the crops grow very well and they sur prisingly have bumper harvest they sell a small portion in the local Ave Dakpa market. The money earned from selling crops is invested in buying other types of foodstuffs needed at home or sometimes spent on clothing. F arming in general at Ave Dakpa starts during raining season : June through October. The common food crops grown are bli (corn), te (yam) agbeli (cassava), nagote (sweet potatoes) akodu (banana), bladzo (plantain), fofonu (sugarcane), tadi (pepper), tomatre (tomatoes), ama/gboma/kontomre (a typ es of spinach/collard green) and ede gble (planting of palm trees). Products such as corn, cassava, yam, plantain and sweet potatoes are smoked, boiled or fried and s old at the roadside. Corn and cassava are also preserved and milled into bliwo or amoku an d agbelimo (corn dough and cassava dough respectively) for preparing banku and akple which are staple food of the Ewe people. Palm trees in Ghana bear lot of fruits The fruits are processed to become red oil that is used in preparing a variety of stews an d soups. When the palm tree is cut down it does not means it is useless or it is the end of the tree. Farmers sell the palm
86 trees to individuals who distill or tap a special kind of drink from the palm tree called palmwine. This drink cures lots of sicknes ses when it is tapped fresh. However, when it is fermented it goes through another process where other spirits are added to it to become strong liquor. The liquor that is derived from this product is generally called dekele meaning the alcohol derived fro m the palm. In the very south of Anlo land such as Anloga, Woe, Tegbi, and Whuti, farming is mostly a male activity while in Ave Dakpa farming involves both men and women. The farmers in the community leave for their farms at dawn, usually working from f our Dakpa have Agblekofe 4 where they rest during their break times to eat and nap before continuing their work. Trading is another occupation in Ave Dakpa and invol ve s women. The concept of trading can be generally translated into what the Ewe people refer to as asitsatsa Asitsatsa involves buying and selling of products with the hope to make at least a small profit. In Ave Dakpa women who have lots of money general ly do avositsatsa (cloth business). They travel to Accra and buy large quantities of different fabric and then re sell it in regional and local markets. These fabrics are cut into several yards, full or half pieces. Sometimes buyers may like particular fabr ics but do not have the money at hand to purchase them so they go through a negotiation leading to what is known as agbana When people buy fabrics on agbana it delays the selling process. However, the system benefits the seller because she adds a particul ar percentage of interest to the origina l selling price. For instance, M iss Koliko is selling a cloth/fabric at $100 dollars. 4 Agbekofe literally means farm hut. It came from to words; agble meaning farm and kofe as excluded inhabitation
87 Miss Botokoe likes the cloth but do not have the money at hand to pay for it so she decides to go on agbana Miss Koliko may decid e to give M iss Botokoe the fabric for $140 dollars fo r three weeks. This means that M iss Koliko will make profit of $40 extra dollars. This is how the cloth business operates in Ave Dakpa as well as other areas in Ghana. In addition to the cloth buying and selling business some women make small stores in front of their houses to sell a variety of products ranging from shoes, fabrics, cooking utensils, oil, lotions, beers, can vegetables, fish and meats. Fishing is another occupation in Ave Dakpa and involv es only men. Although there is no huge river or lake in Ave Dakpa there is a dam constructed to provide water for the entire community. This occupation is seasonal because during the dry season the water level goes down and fish are not found in the lake. In rainy season the lake is full and fishermen get a variety of fish such as akpa ( N ile perch but popularly known in Ghana as tilapia) agala (crab), adeye (mudfish) and bolu (shrimp). Since Ave Dakpa is no t near the sea residents do not get any fish fro m the sea unless they buy it from fish sellers in market places across the Volta region. The men use fishing tools such as asabu (fishing nets), fu (fishing reel) and akanyi (traps). Individuals in the area have also learned specific skills to became carpe nters, masons, hair stylish/dressers, barbers, local drinking bar and chop bar operators. They render their services to make some money purposely to feed their household. Social Events and Celebrations Christmas and Easter are two major events in Ave Dakp a These events request all Ave Dakpa citizens, both home and abroad, to participate in the celebration in person. As such, radio and television announcements are made to publicize the events all over Ghana.
88 Christmas and Easter are memorable occasions ce lebrated throughout Ghana to remember the birth, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since it is believed that the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings unity and peace unto mankind, this philosophy has become the basis for setting up family reunions and rectifying disputes between community members. Thus, most annual community and family meetings in Ave Dakpa are held during Christmas, and Easter festivities. Christmas has less of a focus on reconciliation. During Christmas community members visit their neighbors and exchange various gifts with friends and relatives. In Ave Dakpa, the children and youth celebrate Christmas more than the adults because the story of the birth of Jesus Christ is more interesting to them. Christmas is the only tim e wheb everybody goes to church 5 During the church service, different forms of prayers are said to God. In the traditional system libations are poured to different deities and ancestral spirits for forgiven ess of sins and protection for the coming year. There are also traditional celebrations observed. Amesikpe Za is celebrated primarily to commemorate the migration into the area to give thanks to the ancestors for their protection and guidance for the past year, and to ask for blessings and good health for the entire community in the coming year. Among the three major festivals, more people attend the Amesikpe festival than Easter and Christmas. Participants make resolutions to gods and ancestral spirits th rough sacrifices and pouring of libations, and 5 During this time, the traditional priests and priestesses, Muslims, Christians with different denominations, and those who do not believe in any gods come together for an interde nominational service for thanksgiving.
89 sometimes make donations. Singing, drumming, and dancing are integral parts of this celebration irrespective of any religious background. Other social events in Ave Dakpa that do not necessarily request those living several hundred of miles from home to attend are individual births, naming ceremonies, initiations, and marriage ceremonies. Unlike in the United States w h ere people need invitations to attend these events are widely open to the public in Ave Dakpa The moment a few people know of the event it spread s very fast among. The events seem to be more communal and in case of wedding s the couples do not necessarily need to know or have any relationship with those in attendance to grace the occasion. Funer al s are other social events where the town comes together to celebrate the life of the deceased. Similar to other Ewe people, Ave Dakpa community strongly believe s in the popular Ewe phrase ba na ame ye wo bana na (if one does something for a person, it sh all be done to him/her also). With this belief, funeral it is as a seed that he/she is sowing that he/she will reap a day to come. Since every one knows that he/she will die one day they all participate in funeral activities by he lping the bereaved family in cooking, fetching water, sweeping and other things such as drumming, dancing, singing to console the soul of the bereaved family. Almost everyone in the Ave Dakpa town and neighboring towns participate s so that the celebration Social Musical Traditions and Dance Clubs Drumming and dancing are important aspect of community life among the Ewe and t here are a number of musical and dance drumming groups in Ave Dakpa. The danc e drumming groups perform to support social and religious events and occasions in : 25) This
90 idea is also reinforced by Agordoh who states a town without drumming and dancing is a 1994: 23). In this section I will give a brief description of the dance drumming groups and explain their importance in the town However, I will not go into the technical descriptions of musical structures and performances practices since my f ocus in this study is on Yeve. D ance drumming tradition s in Ave Dakpa can be categorized into two types : (1) Socio recreational and (2) religious dance drumming. The socio recreation dance drumming styles are p erformed during communal labor, leisure activ ities entertainment, marriage events, and other public events involving the community. W hen two or more people are gathered they may start to sing and all of a sudden other instruments ranging from cooking utensils to drum s are used to accompany the song s. As with the rhythm ic participation, individuals begin to dance and draw more people participate Dance drumming groups gather once every weekend or once every month to perform for fun to reinforce their communal bonds. The socio recreational types of da nce drumming in Ave Dakpa are mekamio adzida jama and norvinenyo Mekamio Mekamio is dance drumming group composed of both you th and adults. The name mekamio derives from an Ewe phrase that reads me ka mi o this group is ironic because they do exactly the opposite. They care about each other and come together perform and have fun. The music they play is commonly referred to as borborbor 6 and is performed among almost all Ewe speaking people. Mekamio identifi es itself with a group attire that members wear before 6 See Amedzi (1987)
91 they perform. The performance encourages public participation and a person does not quadruple time with ample call and response pattern s The dancers perform with white handkerchiefs and perform stylish movements. The performance involves lots of singing. Adzida This dance drumming involve s the entire Ave Dakpa community. It is what other Ewe speaking people referred to as agbadza Adzida is performed in two tempos; slow and fast. The slow dance is mostly considered nyayito a dance drumming type whose songs educate and address moral issues such as forgiveness, rivalry, polygamy and respect for humanity. The fast sect ion is considered ageshe 7 and is performed with lots of energy. Generally, adzida is performed at funerals and other celebrations. The dance involves the contraction and the release of the torso and the expansion of the shoulders. The music performance is in compound triple time. Jama This consists of young boys and girls who gather spontaneously at an event and sing songs, dance and drum. Sometimes the songs are only accompanied only with clapping. Occasionally, there may be one or two drums accompanied with bells or cooking utensils such as spoons and aluminum cooking pots. The groups sing a broad range of songs such as traditional folk tunes and gospel tunes in both Ewe and pidgin (broken English) in call and response organization An interesting part o f this group is their creativity and ability to compose songs instantly to give advice, rebuke or make 7 Burns (2005)
92 jokes at someone, a family or a group of people. For instance, if there is a wealthy family that lives a comfortable li f e while others are suffering the group may compose a song to message and hopefully support the poor. Other times they sing against leaders especially politicians for deceiving nature and excessive promises on th e campaign trail. Their music can involve any time signature. Novinenyo Norvinenyo is a group of young men and women who perform during many event s and ceremon ies in Ave good or the best for a friend. drumming group s that performs a variety of different types of dance but specialize in the dance called gadzo 8 Gadzo is a vigorous dance drumming that recounts the valor of the Ewe ancestors during battles. The group wear s a special costume for their performance s and may be hired to perform out of town to make profit. They also perform at a funeral when a group Besides the socio recreational dance drumming the religiou s types are performed during events such as stool festivals, sacrifices, welcoming another deity or escorting unwelcome deity. But most of them are perform ed to honor a particular deity or spirit. They are not performed as frequently as the socio recreatio nal types. During ritual events or sacrifices for the town any member is free to participate. 8 See Younge (2011), Amegago (2011)
93 Ayisu and Afram These are traditional religious dance drumming s performed to give thanks to the deities, spirits or to appease the gods in times of trouble. Duri ng the performance of these two groups the drums are used during specific segments to evoke the deities and spirits. During ayisu and afram performance the gods induce trance or the y may send messages through a spirit medium for the public. The main dance drumming performance is a style called brekete 9 also known as kunde Brekete dance drumming is very popular throughout Volta region and has interesting story of how it got to the Ewe speaking people. Atrima Atrima is a special music performed for chiefs and elders when they have to perform a particular sacrifice on behalf of the community or for a variety of royal stools. This music is mainly a twin drum normally called agblovu in Ewe. It is what the Akan speaking people of Ghana called Atumpan, 10 the talk ing drum. The drum normally evokes the praise names of the chiefs and ancestors and speaks in metaphor s Occasionally it is accompanied with a bell where a chief or an elder to a particular royal stool performs a dance. The dance normally perform ed with th is drumming is nothing like agbadza or borborbor Instead, the dancer uses gesture to talk about bravery, power, and superiority in close communication with the drummer. Amesikpe and its Festival Amesikpeza is an annual festival celebrated to commemorate t he migration journey of Ave Dakpa ancestors. Primarily, the festival is celebrated to reassure the 9 See Friedson (2009), Almann & Perkin (2002) Rosenthal (1999), Hill (1983) 10 See Nketia (1967) Our drums and drummers
94 people of Ave Dakpa that the god Amesikpe who rescued their ancestors and drowned Mafi Kutibolor warriors and brave men is always with them and will protect generations to come. In addition to its primary theme the festival is also celebrated to raise funds for Ave Dakpa town developments. The name Amesikpe in the Ewe language is simple but can be misleading depending on how it is pronounced and also due to i ts polysem ic nature. Amesikpe can be interpreted in various forms. For instance, amesikpe is the shortened form of amesi fe asi kpe said as amesi kpe mean ing the one who is of greatness. There are many mor e interpretations of that same word or phrase The difference between the several meaning s and that of the Ave Dakpa is indicated in how it is written. The Amesikpe in Ave Dakpa is written as one word starting with the uppercase A as in Amesikpe while the ot hers are written in lowercase and are two words as in amesi kpe Amesikpe therefore is the name of the deity and the expanded form of the word in a sentence is ekpe si xor mi tso or ekpe s i ke simi tso. This means us or the rock that rescued us. Amesikpe festival is celebrated in the last weekend before Easter. The festival brings visitor s friends and citizen s both home and abroad into Ave Dakpa. To some people the festival is a moment of reunion with parents, families and to m eet old friends. Others come to this festival to get to know where they were born for the first time and to be introduced to relatives. But for the majority of participant the festival becomes an important pilgrimage, an opportunity to climb the Amesikpe rock and make resolutions and promises for the coming year. Many people who know the significance of Amesikpe festival travel a long distance to part of the historic, social and religious ceremony.
95 As the festival approaches there are some social and relig ious activities that are observed throughout the town. The first thing that happens is a ritual observance to create a silen t atmosphere for the gods. For this the chiefs and elders place a ban on drumming. This is a very common phenomenon amon g towns in Ghana. In the southeastern part of the Volta region this is very popular during religious rit es and festival s Agordoh discusses the ban of musical performance in certain parts of Africa as part of societal social control in observance of specific ritual c eremonies. He exemplifies this by citing the Ga speaking people o f of Ghana, no form of drumming or excessive noise making is allowed one month prior to their annual Homowa festival (1994: 31). In Ave Dakpa the ban on drummi ng is implemented a week before Amesikpe concentrat e on a particular ritual that needs to be observed or undertaken. As such, no drum or instrument is allowed to sound. A ny pending marriage ceremony or funerals must be postponed until the ban is lifted or the ceremonies can take place but there can be absolutely no music. The other activity is a cleanup campaign exercise. A few days before the main events the community members undergo a cleanup exercise througho ut the town to make the town beautiful and clean for people who are coming. Men and women clear and expand the principal roads leading to Amesikpe so that the multitude can walk freely and safe to where Amesikpe rock is located. The cleaning is also believ ed to eradicate all kinds of sickness and disease in the town to be go ne for another year.
96 Figure 2 3. A section of Ave Dakpa people heading to climb Amesikpe On the main festive day, members of the community leave Ave Dakpa around morning and walk a long distance that takes approximately three (3) hours to get to where the rock is located. The people who cannot walk rent a taxi or take a passenger motorcycles to the location and back. This is also the day that the ban on drumming i s lifted As such various drumming groups carry their instruments and start playing when they get to the rock. At this point, those who can climb the rock will do so and those who cannot remain on the ground. This is the time that i ndividuals make their re solutions and request s to Amesikpe. After that the priest in charge of A mesikpe sh r i ne goes to the peak of the rock to perform final sacrifice, pray er and ask for blessing for everyone throughout the year
97 Figure 2 4 A section of people making their way on top of Amesikpe Figure 2 5 A section of people who did not make it on top of Amesikpe
98 Figure 2 6 Dance drumming groups celebrating at Amesikpe Despite individual desire to go on top of Amesikpe to make resolutions and requests there are m any others who do not participate. This is because there are rules and restrictions governing the climbing of Amesikpe. These rules and restrictions are crucial and very significant to observe for individuals well being and safety. According to the customs of Ave Dakpa anyone who desire s to go on Amesikpe rock must adhere to the following rules A person must NOT climb Amesikpe if he/she : has eat en any leftover food prepared from the previous day has eat en anything made with any kind of cooking oil has been involved in any kind of robbery unless it has been confess ed has been involved in murder unless it has been confess e d has engaged in sexual intercourse with anyone the day prior or the day of climbing has caused an abortion
99 These rules and restrictions a re very important to the success of the festival. Anyone who disobeys these customs is severely purnished by the gods of the land and Amesikpe. For example, if anyone disobeys this rule s he may fall and die while going on top of Amesikpe rock. Other punish ments involve terrible sickness leading to instant death. In essence the action of disobedient individuals who try to climb Amesikpe can cease the blessings and protections expected from the gods. Instead the town will experience the anger of the gods. It is with these reasons that people evealuate themselves very well before going to Amesikpe. Language/Dialect The Ewes who inhabit the Volta region of Ghana speak a language known as Ewegbe. The word Ewegbe derives from the phrase, Eweawo fe gbe which trans lates W ritten Ewe has been approved and standardized by the educational board and is used in the school system. It is the written style of Ewe in which all Ewe textbooks, novels, poems, articles and fictions are written. S poken Ewe however, has lots of regional variations based on geographical location of a particular society or a town. In spoken Ewe a word can be the same in all the dialects, different or affected by speech tonality in othe r Ewe territories. Atakpa points out the geographical (variants) of the Ewe language spoken in the south eastern corner of the Republic of Ghana are Anlo, Some, Avenor, Tongu and Dzodze. The dialectical dif ference, as in the case of all languages with dialects, are found in one or more of the following, namely speech sounds used, choice between synonyms and forms of words, pitch/tonal variat 28).
100 The dialect of Ewe spoken in Ave Dakpa is influence d by the Avenor and Tongu style s However, one of my informants Prosper Awunyo suggest s that they speak Avenor more than Tongu style. In my conversation with many of the community members regarding the dialects of Ewe they speak I got a unanimous response that they speak Avegbe. My own linguistic background is Anlo and I speak Anlogbe which is the generally accepted style used in the school system. However, Anlogbe also has stylish way of pronunciation with certain words that is n ot written but spoken. For example, ati atsi amesiame ameshiame Avegbe but not as the Ave native but understand clearly everything they say. Below are a few examples of certain wrods that are pronounced differently from the standard Ewe language. English Anlogbe Avegbe Dad/Father Fofonye or Tonye Tatanye Mother Danye or Nonye Nananye There are other words that are the sa me and have the same pitch or tone. For example Brother Efo or Fonye Fonye Uncle Torga or Tordia Taganye Aunt Ete, Daga, Dadia Tasi/Naga/Narinye Where are you going? Afika neyi na yina Ga nee neyi I am coming from there Me tso afima Me tso ga ma I am right here Mele afisia Mele gi ya Education Schools/Institutions Ave Dakpa has a number of public and private schools established to educate people in the community. The public schools are church affiliated but controlled by the government and their maintenance and school supplies are dependent on the
101 government and sometimes the community. The private schools are individually owned and their supplies and maintenance depend on the proprietor. It is difficult to find informati on on when and how these schools were established because there are no reliable record s The Assem ble of God S chool is a day care center for kids and a school through lower primary levels The Roman Catholic school is composed of primary school that is on e (1) to six (6) and continues through junior high school ( normally attended for three years ) The private sc hools are Eli School, Nyornarh S chool and Anbusit. Like the Roman C atholic school, Eli school also goes from primary through to junior high, howeve r, Nyonarh is only from primary one (1) to six (6) classes. Anbusit School has the highest enrollment of students in the area The school is composed of nursery, primary, junior high, senior high through to pre university classes. According to the public educational policy children are required to enroll in to kindergarten between ages five and six. This policy is part of the public or government educational system throughout Ghana. The reason is that the child should be able to express her/himself in case he is hurt, feel s pain, has an emergenc y or if he/she needs something. Sh e should be able to recognize an individual and point him out in case of any violence or be able to say thank you when someone gives h er a gift. More importantly, at the age of six t he child should be able to walk to school and return home safely. Finally, at that age the child has acquired some basic knowledge and also learns to do some domestic chores like washing dishes and cleaning. P rivate schools are expensive and most parents therefore cannot afford to send their children to a private school although they may desire a quality education for their children. Due to this situation there is high er enrollment in public school s than in the
102 private schools in Ave Dakpa. Unlike the publ ic school, private schools enroll children in day care, nursery and kindergarten at any age if their parents can afford the cost of tuition. C lassroom instruction is in Ewe for lower level class es and in English at higher level classes. However, the privat e schools emphasize English so that the children can be conversant with the English language. It is possible to conclude on the average that children who go to private schools speak English better than those who go to public school. In addition to the scho ols mentioned above Ave Dakpa has one secondary Dakpa Secondary changed the name of all secondary schools in Ghan a to Senior High Schools. Therefore the school in this town is now named Ave Dakpa Senior High School. The senior high school is equivalent to high schools in American educational system. Similar to all high schools AVESCO prepares students to enter colleg e and university based on their field of study. At this level instructions are purely given in English unless the Ewe language class. The significance of this chapter is to primarily introduce readers to the historical backgrounds and the people of Ave Da kpa. The unique oral history of the people demonstrates valor, spirituality and power through the encounters during the ir mi gration from Notsie and their survival until the finally settled at their present location The power of the revered god Amesikpe c annot be underestimated in the history of Ave Dakpa. Amesikpe played a crucial role in the life of the people during the ir migration and has since then become a dependable and prestig ious god whose festival is celebrated
103 annually to commemorate the migrati on and for the younger generation to learn their history. The spiritualities philosophies, customs and values that lie at the heart of the people and serve as th e foundation al principles are reve aled in the invocation of the State of Ave Dakpa. The spiri tuality and veneration of deities led to the establishment of many traditional regious societies, shrines and cults of which Yeve is one. The next chapter focuses on and discuss es the background of the Yeve, its cult and selected rituals of the members.
104 CHAPTER 3 THE YEVE CULT AND ITS RITUALS PART ONE Yeve The Cult and Its Origin Yeve is one of the most powerful and secretive cults found among the Ewe. From o ral history to scholarly works, it is difficult to clearly determine the precise meaning of what Yeve is. Scholars who study certain aspects of Yeve and even native Ewe who know s a little about it describe s it by its characteristics. Yeve does not have a synonym to help relate to its nearest meaning. It is also problematic for even a native to a sk a yevesi (Yeve member) what Yeve means because of a fear of misunderstanding and retaliation. I was very fortunate that most of my family members are part of the Yeve cult and we have a very close relationship, as I narrated in chapter one. When I asked my aunt what Yeve means she told me, Yevea ye nye mawu 1 Her answer to my question Sunday and have heard various pastors talk about God, but never reference Yeve. I went to h er another time with the same question and got the same answer she had given me earlier. During my field research I asked my principal informant, Agbayiza if it is possible to tell me in a single word or phrase what Yeve means. I was surprised to hear from him the same answer my aunt gave me. His response was Yeve la ye nye tohono, ye nye mawua ask if he would relate Yeve to the deities normally referred to as mawu or the Almighty God Mawu. H e responded Yeve ye nye Yehowa also called Yehova 1 to the deities
105 Other people, especially elders that I spoke with described Yeve as a religious cult or a secret society. However, Agbanu, 2 expl ained to me that Yeve eya koe nye vodua, he ga nye habobo ha understanding of the Yeve resonates with Fiagbedzi who wri functions grammatically in two ways: (a) as a substantive meaning the cult as an organization (e.g. edze/edu Yeve : he becomes a Yeve cult member) and also the god itself (e.g Yevee wui : it is the God Yeve that kills him). It is also us ed in combinations as an epithet (e.g. Yevesi : the wife of Yeve). The etymology of Yeve however, is rather 1966: 11). Kumassah also explains Yeve according to cultural practices and traits of Ewe speaking people who are believed to be Jews. He argues that the Jewish God Yaweh is believed to be Yeve. 3 After a long time spent tracing cultural practices he ends the Jewish God, Yaweh, the name they [Ewe] cor rupted 22). In an interview with Togbi Midawo Alorwoyie 4 regarding the concept of Yeve meaning God or Yaweh, his version and understanding of Yeve in the traditional belief system perhaps also validates what other people have conceiv ed of Yeve. He says, Yeve la eyae nye Mawu. Ebe yee woe Eye nye nuwo kata worla. Nusianu la yee woe This 2 Agbanu is a very knowledgeable elder on traditional religion. In January 2009 I received a call that he was sick and was rushed to the hospital but h ad died. 3 Yeve is also written as Yewe. 4 Togbi Midawo Alorwoyie is a high priest (Midawo) of the Yeve cult in the Volta region. He is a master drummer of the Yeve cult and a full professor of m usic at the University of North Texas at Denton. He is also an ordained chi ef with the title Togbi Foli Amanyo III, Dufia of Tsinu Afife traditional area.
106 h Togbi Alorwoyi e September 21, 2012). It is fascinating to look at the relationship between different concepts and understanding of Yeve. T he Ewe word for God, Yehowa or Yehova is similar to that of xplanation of Yeve as He who is the maker of all things, thus, Yee woe However, as Fiagbedzi state s the etymology of the word Yeve is uncertain. We can at least comprehend based on the above accounts that Yeve is a deity that is believed by the people wh o venerate him to be a representation of God that oversees and protect his people on earth. It is also clear that Yeve is used to describe the group of people that live and worship together as a society. Commonly termed a secret society, the Yeve cult is a body of organized religious practices and beliefs involving interaction with various deities, ancestral spirits and supernatural powers. The Yeve is associated with the male thunder god, So Ladzekpo (1983 : 218 ightening It also has a female deity that is the royal python, Da who is believed to be the wife of So So is said to reside in the sky and Da to reside on earth. The Yeve cult has historical ties to the other thunder gods of the Ewe territories in West Africa especially Xevioso (Hevioso) in Dahomey now Republic of Benin and Shango of Yoruba in southwestern Nigeria. Jones emphasizes this point and states, The Yewe or Tohono cult is the cult of the God of Thunder. It belongs to the Ewe alone, which in thi s context embraces the Ewe, Fon, 1959: 93 ). Parrinder
107 god So or more frequently Hevioso from the village of Hevie whic h is the center of the 31). Various scholars such as Jone s (1959), Parrinder (1961), Fiagbedzi (1966), Avorgbedor (1987) among others agree that the Yeve cult originated in Dahomey and came to Ghana duri ng the migration. Sangode was brought to Abomey, Dahomey from Xevi. Before he was known by this name he was called So Xevioso is also known as Agbolesu (ram great male) since he and the ram, the symbol of the thunder gods, are 55). bove arguing that the thunder god came from a village called Hevi. Since colonial times, Dahomey has been an important refuge for the Ewe people and others who practice spiritualism. According to Agbelidaze, a priest of the Yeve cult and a lead drummer of the Koku and Brekete our forefathers, one can only go to Dahomey if he is a Bokor 5 or a Dzotor 6 and /or has a and from his own experience as a diviner, Agbelidaze says Dahomey comes out of two words as Da, which in both Fon and Ewe languages means snake and ahome meaning with Agbelidaze, August 14 2006). Metaphorically, the snake here represents anything that is evil or inhuman. 5 Bokor is a diviner, sorcerer and a priest of Afa religion. He tells people their destiny and the type of death that awaits them. 6 Dzotor is another powerful magic and medici ne man like the Bokor, but sometimes uses his power and charms for destructive purposes. People commonly refer to him as a Juju man.
108 reaching other parts of the neighboring countries seems plausible for the following re asons: 1. Oral traditions tell of a westward migration of the Ewe people from Notsie, a town in Benin. 2. The secret cult language is believed by the initiates and other knowledgeable people to be a mixture of Ewe and Fon, a language spoken mainly in the Republi c of Benin. 3. Most of the rituals and customs of the Yeve cult described to me in detail by Daenyeametor, a high ranked Yeve priestess, bear striking similarities to the early Dahomean forms, which I had learned about through various sources of oral traditio n. These similarities include method of initiation, graduation of members and ways of ensuring or obtaining redress for offence, especially those caused by a non member ahe 4. The characteristics and names given to various priests, priestesses and specific people in the Fon language correspond to similar names used in Yeve worship. Here are few examples: Table 3 1. Similarity between Yeve and Fon words/names Fon Yeve Secret language Azetor ( witch or wizard) Azetor Ahe (non member/ outsider) Ahe Vodun (deity/god) Vodu Vodunsi (devotee of a god) Vodusi Hevioso (thunder god) Xebieso Hounsikpokpor (neophyte) Husikpokpor Hounbonon (high priest) Hubonor Bokonon (Afa priest) Bokonor Yevekpor The Cult House In Ewe territories every Yeve cult has a cult house associated with it. The same applies to the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. The cult house is commonly referred to as yevekpor meaning the house of Yeve. It is also shortened as kpor The plural of the words carries wo at the end of it (such as kpor wo or yevkporwo ). I will be using these
109 two words interchangeably. The cult usually has someone in charge of it, referred to as its director. The director is normally a high ranking priest known as midawo or hugbono Others call him the hugbonoga The hugb ono or midawo oversees the affairs and the responsibilities of the yevekpor The midawo or name is normally attached to the kpor Therefore, the yevekpor in Ave Dakpa belongs to the priest named Agbelifufu. lifufu kpor or Agbelifufu kpornu The yevekpowo in general are easily recogniz ed by the members of the town due to their structure, shapes, and sometimes their location in the town. In some communities they are located prominently in the center of the t own or close to the market place. Agbelifufu kpor is located a small distance from where the Ave Dakpa market is situated. The yevekpor is sometimes identified with ritual pot normally found in front of the house, placed on a stick with three branches to s upport it or a cement wall stand The pot is designed with specific color spots such as blue, white or black. Sometimes it can be identified by adodo on a stand in front of the house. Adodo is a small iron object that has multiple, immobile bells on either side of a thin, tubular shaped piece of metal connecting them. Figure 3 1 A ritual pot
110 Figure 3 2. A section within the Yeve cult house also depicting the old style a cross the entrance. Aviatsi (a type of sturdy tree) and palm fronds are other distinguishing features that surround the yevekpor In recent times yevekporwo are being built using cement walls with sometimes images of priests and priestesses or showing cert ain features of the cult. This is to warn non member s not to enter the cult. If an ahevi (a non Yeve member) enters the cult without permission there is a huge fine to be paid or the act can lead to other spiritual problems for the person. The shape of c ult buildings varies from town to town. In Ave Dakpa they tend to be circular, but elsewhere they may be conical, rectangular or square. Inside, the houses are divided into sections, each with its own entrance. This design ensures privacy during ceremonie s that are closed to the public. Agbelifufu kpor also contains
111 secret rooms referred objects are kept. Figure 3 3 .The modern cult houses with images of priests and priestesses to ale rt and caution non members. Within the yevekpor, specific ritual trees are planted both inside and outside the cult house that serve as an alarm and spiritual mechanism to detect infiltrators who send agents using certain birds. For example, native Ewe peo ple do not like the bird known as adzexe (owl). The owl or adzexe the bird cries over a particular house the people in the house are scared because they it being taken away or imbued with some sickness. Therefore, the function of the special trees in and around the kpor is to cause birds of that nature to fall into the cult house or its surroundings. In addition, any malevolent forces in general that appro ach the cult house to spy or with the purpose of attacking, are first disabled by the tree. In Ewe belief, force always has an agent, which can be manifest in the form of a human being or an animal. The yevekpor contains the elements described above, but i n essence, it is the sacred abode or temple for the Yeve members just as mission compounds and chapels are for Christians.
112 Yeve Voduwo Deities of the Yeve Cult There are two principal deities associated with the Yeve cult throughout the southeastern Ewe land. These are the thunder god, So and the royal python, Da. So has a historical tie to the Yoruba shango and the D a homean hevioso His primary symbol is a double edge d axe. So is believed to communicate using emotions, desires and f orces of thunder and l ightening and is in charge of the sky. He also has praise names that reflect his superior character such as Dadagbe Totobli Tohono and Dzidegbe, all of which are terms describing the sounds derived from thunder. Further, he is a god of justice that disli kes evil and strikes dishonest people and criminals in the society. The colors that reflect his qualities are red and white. Parrinder gives a critical description of the nature of the thunder god: The god So is believed to strike down the impious and to d estroy the trees which witches use for their meeting in the night. Those people who are So is not only an angry god casting down his axes on wicked people; it is also said that he owns the heavens, sends heat and rain, and gives fertility to men and to do their crops 1961: 31 32) Besides the thunder god, there is also Voduda, also known as Da Voduda is considered the wife of So t hat lives and rules on earth. She symbolizes fertility, rebirth and guardianship of sacred spaces. Her colors are blue or black. Voduda is believed to be primarily responsible for affairs on earth and to report to her husband, So However, Da is calm in na ture and takes walk s around certain parts of the town. Agbayiza explain ed to me that V oduda is a very special deity and they are very proud of her as their mother. In my own experience, I have seen a similar type of da in Togo during a ritual ceremony. Whe n the Da was out of her temple the initiates of Da went around looking for her and finally brought her home. Chapte r five and six explains how the Da is
113 searched for through a special music and dance. Heskovits (1937) has extensively studied the veneration of the Dangbi and notes its significance Da can be just as powerful as the thunder god So and, as a vodu can be invoked on dishonest people. For instance, Togbinye described a situation in Ave Dakpa where a woman lied of something she had done against a Da initiate. The dashi ( Da initiates) went to sacrifice in her temple and invoke the V oduda to enter the stomach of the person by causing the stomach to blow up as if the person was pregnant. On the third day the stomach of the woman who told the lied h ad grown so big that she finally had to go tell the truth. When this happened, it was believed that the D a or V oduda is story high l ights the belief that So and Voduda are very prestigious deities that people in Ave Dakpa and other Yeve cults. Besides So and V oduda there are other deities that are associated with the Yeve cult. Among them are A vleketi Z akadza and S akpata Each of these have their own ritual act ivities. Fiagbedzi (1966) and Fiawo o (1959) testify to the existence of minor deities and Kumassah (2009) list s the deities and what they inhabit. He states, Avleketi, Sofeatsi, Zakadza. Xebieso is believed to reside in thunder and lightening, Agbui in the dolphin, Voduda in cobra, Avleketi in a type of shark locally called Sofeatsi in sokpe or So Zakadza in bee 22). Membership As a religious society, membership into the Yev e cult is highly restricted. Generally, there are three main categories of membership into the Yeve cult. These are (a) h udzedze (b) Yevefofor and (c) amegigli
114 Hudzedze Hudzedze can further be un derstood in two parts. The first is when the Yeve deity appoints or calls grandfather or parents have been part of the Yeve. It should be noted that not every child born to a serve Yeve, they become possessed. Possession is induced by the deity himself and the person run s out of his house while singing Yeve songs and heads into the yevekpor that the deity directs him to. The singing of the Yeve song may be compared to the idea of speaking in tongues, since the person has never been taught how to sing Yeve songs before. It is believed that the deity instills him/her with this ability. When the person arrives at the yevekpor the midawo in charge instantly knows what is going on and directs the new initiate. The second hudzedze part is through amedzodzor or reincarnation. Wh en a person reincarnates an ancestor he is believed to impersonate the ancestor and also to take on the responsibilities the ancestor had before passing away. Sometimes, a person can start having emotional or psychological problems. When the family goes to consult the diviners they are told he has reincarnated someone and that person wants the living individual to do certain things before the problems can becoming a Yeve member. As such the m idawo assists in performing the appropriate rites for the person to become a member, bearing the name of the past ancestor. The second category is Yevefofor. This means the process of discovering Yeve in a different form. He can disguise himself and appea r to a person in the form of
115 precious objects such as gold, diamond or very expensive beads at an odd place such as in a lake or farm. Finding precious metals in such a situation is highly unusual, and is believed to be a sign from the deities. These objec ts, according to custom, are taken to diviners who confirm the reason they appeared. The result often heard is: yeve be yele asiwo nothing else to do than to become a member. I f a person refuses, he or she is imbued with a deadly sickness that can only be cured by the Yeve priests. Another sign from Yeve can come from a kind of fish called takpe that lives in the sea. The Ewe people believe that when someone goes fishing and his net catches takpe then it is Yeve that has come to settle with him. Takpe is a fish that appears to have blinui (scarification) on its face just like the Yeve members. Therefore according to custom, diviners must be consulted for the appropriate rites for the person to become a Yeve member. An example of Yeve settling with a person in my own family is my aunt Daenyeametor. She became a minawo 7 of the Yeve cult after she was weeding in her backyard one Saturday morning and found a piece of gold. She gave th e gold to her mother, and the mother (who was a minawo) told her the gold was a sacred Yeve ritual object. She was then required to join the cult and perform all of the necessary rituals. The third category is amegigli also known as amegbegble iling the verbally abuse a Yeve member. Anyone who insults, mocks or gives any form of abuse to Yeve initiates is said to have defiled him or her. More details of the defilemen t process are given in Chapter 4. If such an insult occurs a heavy fine is given to the 7 Minawo is a high ranked female priestess who supports midawo or hunor during the initiation rite. minawo could also be a title for midawo
116 culprit and failure to pay the fine by the due date results in a force d membership. These are the three possible methods by which people become part of the Yeve society Presented below are three testimonies from individual Yeve members revealing how they become Yeve members. All three informants have given me the permission to document their testimonies in this study. I have done my best to communicate the literal trans lation and their thoughts into English. The testimonies are from Hutor Sofeda, Tsale Agbelifufu and Agbayiza Agbelifufu. Example One Hutor Sofeda Esi medo go S uku la When I completed school Meyi Nonye gbo le afe I went to my mother in her hometown Bena ma tu xo na Nonye S o that I could build a house for her Esi men o xo tum la, meva dze do I n the process I became very sick Ne mede nugodo la Anytime I went to the toilet (defecated) Efuna tsitsi abe klala ene I t comes as white as calico (white cloth). Nonye fe velia kplom yi nukafe One day, my a diviner Afimae meva kpor Yevea le It was there I first encounter Yeve Egblo be adzetowo lem be The diviner says that the sickness is caused by witches Nukatae mele xotum na Nonye? They do not want me to continue building the house for my mother Afima Yevea gblo be
117 It was there Yeve revealed itself to me and said Nenye be elo la, madze gbo wo At my wish, he will settle with me and give me cure Evo ne egbe la, aku But if I refused to be with him (Ye ve) I will die. Megblo nebe, melo be madzee I said, I agreed to be with him Tso gbemagbe la, nye lame haya Since that time until now I have been healed Nye nugodo ha tro And also my stool has co mpletely changed to normal. (Personal testimony with Sofeda August 5, 2006) Figure 3 4. A photo of Husunu Hutodzehu Sofeda Sofeda told me that father) for a final healing ceremony. Sofeda explained that Ashito Agbelifufu demanded some foods for the ceremony specified by Yeve, such as dakodu (a special kind of banana), atoto (pineapple), adiba (papaya), ayi (beans ), azi (groundnut/peanut) and ahav iviwo (soda). Afterwards his name was changed to Husunu Hutodzehu Sofeda
118 (Sofeda, August 5, 2006). Sofeda was not able to mention his previous name to me because he was afraid something might happen to him. Example Two Tsale Agbelifufu This testimony is given by Tsale Agbelifufu one of my principal informants and the lead drummer of the Agbelifufu kpor. This is what he said: Nye la, Yeve me wo dzim do For me, I was born into Yeve Wo be yevekpor me wo dzim do I was told I was born in the Yeve cult E kpo le ma le gama The cult house is there Alesi wo dzoe la, nyeme nya o How it happened, I do not know Hafi matenu atso la At the age where should stand and be able to walk Metsi anygba kaka I could only crawl for long a time Nye me te nu tsotsom o And for real I only remain ed on the floor Tatanye la, azagunoe wonye My father was a chief drummer Nusita meva zu azaguno ye nye esi This is how I also became a drummer Ne tatanye yina vufofe la Anytime my father is going for event s and ceremonies Nye kpakpli ye yina He takes me along with him Gbedeka, esi wo no vua fom la One day when he was drumming Meta he yide vua la gbo
119 I manage d to draw closer to the drum Esi mele vua fe tsotsiwo la As I got to his drum, I grab bed the pegs of the drum Enumake, metsom Immediately, I got up Tso gbemaghe dzi la From that time onwards Medze zozor gome I have been walking Tatanye kplom yi midawo gboe My father took me to the high priest Wotso nuawo woman And they perform all the necessary rites for me Tso gbemagbe dzi ko la From that time until now Meno vu fom le yevekpor me I have become a Yeve member and h ave been drumming in the cult house Nenemae me gede Yeve me ma This is how I also got into Yeve (P ersonal interview with Tsale April 15, 2012) Figure 3 5. A photo of Tsale Agbelifufu
120 Example Three Agbayiza Agbelifufu This third example is from the hugbono in charge of the Agbelifufu kpor where I conducted my research. His name is Agbayiza Agbeli fufu. Enye nye Agbayiza Agbelifufu I am Agbayiza Agbeliffufu Fofonye Ashito Agbelifufu la My father is Ashito Agbelifufu Hugbonoga wo nye He was a high priest Nye la nye me dze Yeve o For me Yeve did not recruit me Esi menye devi la Duri ng my youth age Nye kple fofonye koe yina tefe wo I go everywhere with my father Ne nua wom kola meno kpom I critically observe everything he does De me sroe gbo I learned it from him Elabe do si fofo wo wona la Because w hat your father does Eya wo ha ne sosroge le egbo I t is what you will also learn from him Fofonye fiam nuawo hafi metsi My father taught me lots of things before I gr e w up Evu la nye me fone o For drumming, I do not know it Hafi tonye nava kula Before my father died Eva bia nu ta He went to consult from diviners
121 Vodua be mano nuawo gbo The deity pointed me to be in charge Evazu afeme nu, It also becomes a family lineage and practices Eko va lem I have to continue it because it was my turn Fo fonye va fiam nu mamleawo My father taught me the rest of the rites Wova tso agbo wu Then the ram killing ceremony was held Kple konu mamleawo wo With the rest of the rituals Meva le nuawo nu Since then I became in charge Va de asi ne egba Until this present days Nenemae meva zu hugbono le This is how I became a high priest (Personal interview with Agbelifufu August 28, 2011) Figure 3 6 Agbayiza Agbelifufu
122 Initiation Rites of Yeve Members After the deity Yeve has appointed the s elected members they have to go through various initiation processes. Before these are done the people chosen are called husi a convert while hu means a god. The initiation is essential for the neophyte to become a legitimate member of the cult. As the n eophytes are accepted into the yevekpor they do not choose the deity they will be linked to A particular deity may decide to settle with the person during hudzedze yevefofor or as a result of curing a sickness. In absence of these the method used to dete rmine what deity a particular person is initiated into is the performance of spiritually intense dance drumming where the neophytes can get into a trance and fall. The way and manner the neophyte falls determines the deity into which he/she will be initiat through a trance. She narrates: In Ave Dakpa before the initiation rituals begin, the novice dances until he or she goes into a trance and falls flat on the ground. The manner in which the initiate falls will determine the type of deity to which he or she will be assigned. When the neophyte falls on his or her back then he/she is the child of T ohono the thunder god. As such he/she will go through the rituals and be initiated into the thunder god known as so or X ebieso When the neophyte falls flat on his/her stomach or face down he/she is a child of the royal python, Da. Therefore the necessary rituals will be done as such. Then the high priest sprinkles a kind of ritualized water on the initiate and the general area to appease the spirit and then take the individual into the sacred (Personal conversation with Hudzengo, August 10, 2006). observes the same process for the neophytes at Dzelukope in the Keta districts. After this rite the neophytes go with the high priests and priestesses to take a kind of spiritual bath, after which they are given the cloth that identifies them. At this time the neophytes ar e now known as kpokpor or husikpokpor and through avodede
123 nuti Avodede nuti is a process where sanctified ritual cloths are presented to the kpokpor as his/her daily clothing until a graduation period. The kpokpor associated with the So are clad in klala (white cloth) while those who are initiated into the Da normally use blue cloth. At times when the blue cloth cannot be found, the kpokpor can use a black cloth instead. Figure: 3 7 Kpokpowo ( dashi behind and Soshi in front) in their clothes working to makes some money for their graduation. Figure: 3 8 .Husikpokpo making a hand gesture signifying supplication as she walks
124 When the kpokpor finish ed the avodede nuti process there are other initiation activities that continue. These can be divided into four categories: the oath of secrecy and baptism; languages, ethics, songs and dances; scarification; and renaming ceremony. While the initiates are going through these categories they are often described as being in seclusion. While in seclusion the initiates live within the yevekpor and cannot venture out into the community Before taking the oath of secrecy, the head is shaved bald by an appointed priest. The kpokpor then swears an oath to all the deities involved in the cult, especially th e ones he/she is initiated into. The kpokpor also promise to respect the ethics and leaders of the cult, and to keep all commandments of the cult sacred. Failure to adhere to this oath is believed to result in punishment and the wrath of the deities. The k pokpor is given prepared herbs to commune with the deities that are believed to protect and strengthen him/her as he/she goes through a confinement process. Sometimes, a white fowl is slaughtered and the blood is used to baptize the kpokpor, symbolizing th e covenant between him/her and the deities. This sacred baptism is referred to as yevedetame Another activity that takes place during seclusion is devoted to learning the secret cult dialect called Yevegbe. This is a type of dialect that the kpokpor wi ll be expected to use when he/she interacts with people. The people he/she interacts with are not only the Yevesiwo (Yeve members), but the aheviwo (non members) as well. For example, before the kpokpor a few weeks to work in order to acquire money to buy colorful fabrics that will be used for
125 their graduation ceremony. As she goes out to work she will speak Yevegbe but will use gestures so that they can understand her. In addition to the learning of t he Yevegbe kpokpor also learn the significance of each deity and the particular rites associated with their veneration. Kpokpor also learn various types of songs and dances that accompany specific drumming during Yeve ceremonies. In reality, it takes a lo ng time for the kpokpor to master all the rituals, songs, dances and ethics. As such, graduation of the kpokpor depends on how fast he/she is able to learn and pass the tests. The third initiation activity produces a visual identity for Yeve members. It i s called blinuisisi, meaning the process of scarification. The kpokpor at this time is identified by scarification that is normally visible on the face, shoulders and back of their body. The initiate receives three vertical marks on the forehead, three on the left cheek, and three on the right cheek (see figure 3 6 below). On both shoulders are given three horizontal row bearing seven marks in each row. At the back of the body the number of scarification marks given does not have a specific number. It depen height. The scarification marks start from the beginning of the shoulder blades close to the spinal cord going down in a diagonal motion close to reaching the waist. Members of the cult are also characterized by a unique style of neckl ace that indicate s the deity to which they belong. Initiates who belong to So and Da wear necklaces made out of special threads. Cowry shells are similarly worn on a long chain with one or tw o bells attached (see figure 3 10 ). Females wear two types of bea ded cowries called dakpla across both shoulders and down the side to their hips, while males wear only one across their left s houlder down to their right hip
126 Figure 3 9 Initiate with scarification marks. Figure 3 10 Cowry necklaces The fourth par t of becoming a recognized Yevesi is to have a change of name. Since the husikpokpo is baptized and converted, he or she must be given a divine name that reveals his or her destiny in relation to his or her deity. This name will remain with the kpokpor or the yevesi until death. The names are selected from names of deceased members and are bestowed on them by the midawo. The adopted names are often followed either by the characteristics or title 8 of the deities. Here are some examples of names with their li teral interpretations: Hudzengo god takes the lead Huenyefia god is king Hudolo god is parable Huenyeame god is the embodiment of human 8 The names of the deities typically refer to ideas of belief or their destructive nature.
127 Sonyametor thunder god is to be trusted and owned Sodoke thunder god is rooted in earth Sodoahoe thu nder god is secret and hidden Sofeda thunder god has destroyed the snake god Solafe thunder god is at home Dashi the one who owns the snake god Davide the reward of the snake (daughter of Dashi) Datoledzi Dan yeku the snake god is a threat and a death trap Dadogbe the snake god is run in to the bush Dangoe he who comes before the snake god Daenyefia Snake is the queen Dadzengo the snake takes the lead Dae nyeametor the snake is what I own The kpokpo wo are then ceremonially bathed and presented to the priests and priestesses who present them to the public for the first time. It is important to note that this presentation ceremony is open to the public to observe. During this moment the kpokporwo are l ed into the dance arena outside the cult house for the first time since their seclusion to display some of the dances and songs they have learned. At the end of the dance performance the kpokpowo are permitted to visit their families. They are given a seve n months pre graduation period to raise funds towards their graduation ceremony. During their graduation the kpokpowo will be called yevesi and after their graduation they will replace their old clothing to adorn themselves with any printed cloth. In their full regalia they joyfully celebrate their graduation with the community through various dance drumming. Categories of Initiates and Hierarchy in the Yeve Cult In all social groups there are titles given to people as they take on specific positions. The p osition requires specific responsibilities so that the members of the group know to go to them whenever there is something that needs to be fixed related to those responsibilites. In traditional dance clubs those names are very important. For
128 example, ther e is a kada (disciplinarian), azaguno (lead drummer), heno (song leader/composer), hamevi (a member) and aforgedola (organizer) among others. In the religious dance drumming clubs the same division of titles to determine member roles exists. For instance, in the Ewe indigenous knowledge system a bokor is known by the all to be a diviner in the Afa religious society. 9 Sofo is known to be the priest of the Brekete shrine. 10 In the same manner there are names that Yeve cult members adopt and that identify to t he entire community their role in the Yeve cult. Here I try to describe a few of the names and their meaning. Kpokpor Kpokpor is considered a neophyte in the Yevekpor (the cult house). It is the first name a new comer under training adopts. There are two t ypes of these people thus, yevesi and dashi Yevesi is a person who is initiated into the thunder god, So. The name Yeve is commonly linked to the thunder god and that is why the initiates are called yevesi This type of kpokpor is clad in klala (white clo th) as seen in figure 3 2. The dashi on the other hand is initiated into the Da the royal python. Dashi is clad in blor or bishi (blue or black cloth). The general features of kpokpor as a trainee is to under study people to enable him/her learn about th e cult and its practices. They walk with one of their hands behind them resting on their waist, a gesture that symbolizes humility. They walk bare footed everywhere, no matter how hot the sand is or how wet the ground. 9 See Swwor (2008) and Bascom (1953) 10 See Friedson (2009) and Hill (1981)
129 There is another category of kpokpor called sonokporme Their system of learning and their responsibilities are more intense than the ordinary kpokpor and their confinement to the cult house can last as long as three to five years or more, during which time they may receive no visitors. They only come out around midnight to get some fresh air and go back into the yevekpor Vodusi Vodusi is basically a generic name used among the Ewe speaking people to refer to anyone who worship s a particular kind of deity. This should not be confused with tr osi 11 Trosi is a devotee of a tro which falls under the category of spirits and not a deity. That is why Yeve is not tro but vodu Despite the generic use of the term vodusi, in the Yeve cult someone who graduated from being a kpokpor becomes a vodusi Ac cording to Agbayiza, graduating from kpokpor to become vodusi can be considered a kind of promotion into a new rank. However, in its simplistic term, vodusi is a regular member of the Yeve cult. It is important to also emphasize that people use vodusi inte rchangeably with yevesi For the sake of simplicity I often refer to them as yevesi in this paper. But we also need to understand that yevesi can also be used as a term for So initiates since Yeve is understood to be So Avle Avle is a category of kpokpor who has an affiliation with the avleketi and has undergone avleketi rite. Avleketi is also one of the deities that constitute the entire deities of the Yeve cult. It is important that this initiate graduates from kpokpor before becoming avle The avle ini tiates are popularly referred to as avlesi In the Yeve cult the 11 See Fiawo o (1959)
130 avlesi ha ve some privileges and freedom over the rest of the vodusi or yevesi There is no specific reason why it should be that way except that it is allowed according to the ethics, princip les and doctrines of the Yeve cult. For instance, an avlesi has the right to wear sandals, shoes, shirts, and spectacles and can be playful with the cult members. This freedom is not given to any other yevesi other than the avlesi On the other hand, the avlesi are s a special dance they perform for comic relief to loosen the intense emotional states of the yevesiwo It is convincing to conclude that it is their role as comedians that give them the freedom to behave in certain ways and wear any type of dress within the cult. It is also important to emphasize that only female s become avlesi and not male initiates. Figure 3 11 A section of Vodusiwo /Yevesiwo and avlesiwo
131 Husunu Husunu is a male initiate of the Yeve cult. To become a husunu a person has to fulfill all requirements and graduate from being a kpokpor Thus, the husunu is the next rank a male initiate attains after kpokpor Husunu has a special responsibility in the Yevekpor H e is a unique messenger for his leader or master, the midawo For instance, if a midawo is summoned to attend a meeting at a particular cult or gathering and for some pressing reasons he cannot attend ; the only person who can represent him is the husunu T he Midawo can fervently count on husunu without disappointment. All husunu under study the midawo and learn from him because the next rank of the husunu will be midawo If the husunu acquires enough knowledge then he can also impact the person who will als o learn from him. The husunu wo also have special clothing known as awlaya Awlay a is a kind of voluminous knee length skirts containing so many yards of different colorful fabrics. Avorgbedor describes awlaya of cloth (with different designs). Due to the large number of cloth involved, the skirt attains a height ost 12). Fixing the awlaya is a gr adual process involving three to four members helping to fix just one Before the husunu wraps the awlaya around him he secures the agbadza 12 also known as tunubabla (see figure 3 12 ) to his waist. The agbadza contains several medicines, ritual herbs and ot her mystical amulets that serve as a powerful protection. He then wears the awlaya on top of the agbadza in 12 Agbadza in this context is not the Ewe so cial and funeral dance drumming of the Ewe people. It is combinations of secret and powerful mystical elements that protect the husunu from other spi ritual attacks.
132 addition to other smaller pieces of cloths. The husunu continues to add various layers of cloths onto the agbadza until he becomes satisfied with th e volume that he likes. He seals the upper part of the cloth with a number of scarves to make it look good. After the awlaya is fixed the husunu adorns a woven rope with several raffia looking objects attached. The rope is tied around his torso with the raffias appearing to be hanging on his chest. The husunuwo sway them around during a dance performance in order to project the elegance of the costume and his authority. In addition to the awlaya he uses three parrot feathers that are fixed into his headb and. The parrot feathers are called ese which symbolizes the seriousness of the Yeve cult (see figure 3 14) Some people use two or three while others choose to use as many as they can. Figure 3 12. Husunu with the agbadza
133 Figure 3 13 A section of Husunuwo in their regalia dancing Figure 3 14. The front view of husunu with the raffia and Ese
134 Figure 3 15 The back view of the husunu in regalia Minawo Minawo is the high priestess of the Yeve cult. In terms of earning a degree or status this i s the highest degree or status a female initiate can attain in the Yeve cult. They are considered primarily as mothers and the most experienced females in the Yeve cult. Also, through their experience they are known to have gained skills. In collaboration with their counterpart midawo they can ordain another minawo Their responsibilities in the cult include teaching all the kpokpor to strictly adhere to the ethics of the cult, honor code and master all performative aspects of the rituals and the dance drum ming. A m inawo is easily identified with a white scarf around her head, white beads and white cloth wrapped over other clothing she is wearing. It is also possible that she may
135 tie her head with blue cloth if she was initiated into the Da before becoming a minawo Unlike the kpokpor minawo is allowed to wear sandals but not during dance drumming performances. Figure 3 16 A m i n awo in her white head scaf Midawo Like the minawo midawo are the high priests of the Yeve cult. There are two levels of midawo c ommonly found in the Yeve cult and so it is at Ave Dakpa. There is an ordinary ranked midawo and there is also a head midawo in charge of the Yevekpor The number of midawo in each Yevekpor depends on the size and the activities of the cult. The head midaw o, who is considered the high ranked priest, is responsible for the successful maintenance of the Yevekpor. He may also be interested in making sure his cult is attractive, organized and disciplined to add to his prestige among other cults. He also makes s ure that his musicians, dancers, and song leaders do everything that is expected of them accurately and appropriately. The other midawo work hand in hand with the lead midawo to make sure these goals are achieved.
136 Like the minawo the midawo are also char acterized with a white scarf around their head. Sometimes, they can choose to dress as husunu All midawo collaborate with minawo to train Yeve cult members and exhibit good and responsible leadership so that they serve as role model s for others. Hugbon o It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the head midawo and hugbono In fact, sometimes the head midawo can also be called hugbono Hugbono however, is ranked higher than an ordinary midawo Hugbono can also be considered as an experienced leade r, elder and adviser of the cult. He dresses just as the head midawo but mostly focuses on maintaining appropriate behaviors of cult members in the Yevekpor During events and ceremonies organized the hugbono or midawo can decide to dress as husunu withou t any question. Figure 3 17 A m idawo in his usual white head scaf
137 Figure 3 18 The Yeve cult Hierachical tree Yeve Colors and Symbolism Yeve cults throughout the southeastern Eweland are identified by specific colors. The colors constitute the flag of the society that alerts the people in a particular community that there is Yeve cult in the town. The flags may also have so Midawome differences depending on the number of deities and the totality of rituals performed. In Ave Dakpa, the colors of the Yev e cult flags include their main colors of nyagadzi (red), aklala (white) blor (blue). However, Agbayiza explains that sometimes bishi (black) can be used in place of blor (blue). The colors of the Yeve flag have their significance based on the mood of the deities, or specific cult activities. The red color in the Yeve flag symbolizes accident, danger and destruction. It is important that the significance of this color is understood in relation to the context of the Yeve cult. Although there are some similar ities, it cannot be analyzed in general Ghanaian or Ewe terms. The red color is used when the deity So causes destruction. Hugbono and Head Midawo Yevesi/Vodusi Avle Dashi Husunu Soshi Kpokpor or Husikpokpor Midawo Minawo
138 Using the emotions and forces of So can bring his wrath upon evildoers. Someone under the wrath of So cannot escape. They may try to hide in a house, tree or other object but a lightning bolt will strike the escapee through any barrier. After So strikes it is only the Yeve priest who can go to the scene to cleans e the area before anyone can touch the victim. If the area is not cleansed and someone goes there the second person will fall victim as well. This ability to cause utter destruction is symbolized by the color red. In addition, the red symbolizes the spiritual nature and the seriousness of the cult. The red classifies the people a s having unique spiritual forces. Yevesi dress in red more often than any other color. It visually demonstrates their unique spiritual force. The white color is not used very much during Yeve ceremonies in comparison to the red. However, it is used when th ere are celebrations, promotions and annual thanksgiving ceremonies. It also symbolizes victory. For instance, when there is a disagreement between two Yeve members or a Yeve member and non member, the case is judged at the traditional court of chiefs and elders. When the Yeve member wins the case he/she is fully dressed in purely white clothing with powder sprinkled on him/her. Sometimes a group of Yeve initiates will dress in the white cloth to join the celebration. This happens after the victori ous perso n goes to the house to alert him of his/her victory. The midawo sends for a number of Yeve members to erefore we [they] all dress in conversation with Agbayiza April 18, 2012). As a native Ewe I am also aware of such
139 cases occurring. As can be seen above, the white in the Yeve flag at Ave Dakpa signifies victory. The blue color in the Yeve flag symbolizes sad moments and pain. The sad moment does not mean death or mourning. It deals with personal issues and other social issues concerning the cult. Personally, members m ay have issues relating to poverty or some kind of lament where a solution is needed outright but cannot be solved. The fact that the cult is spiritually powerful does not imply that its members do not have social problems. As such, when problems of this n ature are beyond the bearing of the cult most people use the blue so that together they can lament and feel the pain together. It is also important to note that individual members can decide to use a color code that indicates his/her particular situation at any given moment. When the other cult members see that person they immediately identify his/her situation even if the person does not want to voice it out. In t his C hapter various explanations on the concepts, origin and possible meanings of Yeve have been discussed. It is still uncertain the exact origin of Yeve but a significant part of Ewe history oral tradition has it that it is a religious system that has been practiced from time immemorial even before the arrival of Christianity. The Ewe ancestor s who practiced Yeve and other related voduwo (deities) brought it to Ghana during the migration and establish it to protect the peo ple and the entire community. The c ult house, colors of the flag and ritual objects in fr ont of the cult house are indica tio ns for ahe (non members) to alert them of that there is Yeve cult in the area. As a secret society there are categories of members in hierarchy that have specific responsibilities.
140 It is also important to emphasize that membership and various intensities o f initiations as a spiritual rebirth are very crucial to becoming a legitimate mem ber of the Yeve cult. Chapter 4 continues with some of the important rites tha are performed during specific events and ceremonies in the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa.
141 CHAPTER 4 YEVE CULT AND ITS RITUALS PART TWO This chapter continues with a description of selected rites perform ed in the Yeve cult as started in the previous chapter. There are several rites associated with the Yeve cult that cannot be discussed in this study. H owever, as stated in chapter one this study describes just a few to give insight s into some of the rites that are perform ed the reasons of performing them, and the significance of their performance. This chapter now discusses adadada adzaletsi lele alag adzedze alagalele and tsifodi rites as important ceremonies of the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. Adadada This is one of the principal rituals performed when a Yeve member dies and is buried. Adadada comes from two words : ada and dada It is difficult to explain the word ada however, the nearest in meaning is perhaps a state of seriousness or fury. It is not necessarily anger within a person but a deep emotion that is physically visible in the face. Dada nud ada meaning, adadada is intense and more serious than adzaletsi lele The significance of adadada is primarily as a kind of rite believed to help plea for the deceased soul to journey into the afterlif e and reunite with other Yeve ancestors. Adadada Process Before death a person often cautions family members as to the type of rituals to be organized when she dies. Sometimes, a person will make provisions for those materials that need to be used so tha t there is no burden on the fami ly members. The specific items needed for the adadada rite are agbotsu (ram), koklo (chicken), amidze
142 (red oil), bliwor (corn dough), nake (firewood), akpeteshie (local gin) and deha (palm wine). Adadada according to the Ye ve custom in Ave Dakpa starts in the evening or sometimes at night. The midawo or hugbono in charge of the cult ( in addition to other midawo and husiwo ) go es to the sacred ground with all the purchased items. The ritual starts with the head midawo performi ng tsifodi to invoke the deceased spirit, alerting him/her that the Yeve cult and its members are about to perform the adadada for her. believed to hang around for thi s rite so that she can find a comfortable place with his/her Yeve ancestors. The midawo then slaughters the agbotsu and spreads its blood around the ritual space. However, part of the blood is saved to mix with the bliwor and other items to make the food. After slaughtering the agbotsu its skin is carefully taken off and given to the head midawo From then, a big hole is dug in a cross like shape and a huge ritual pot is place in the center of where the holes connect. There is a particular kind of ritual w ood 1 that is broken into seven small pieces according to the Yeve customs and carefully placed in the big hole under the pot. The midawo lights those small seven pieces of wood and leaves them to burn for sometime before everyone carefully adds the rest of the regular firewood through the four holes. With this fire some of the members do the cooking and others surround it and sing, dance and drum. The same pot is used for every activity during adadada rites. After the preparation of the food the amidze (red oil) is poured into 1 This wood is taken from a particular tree that I was not allowed to visit. It is believed to by a kind of mystical tree under which ancestors congregate. The midawo who normally pick part of the tree that is used for this ritual perform s acrifice by asking the ancestors permission before he pick s a small portion of it.
143 the pot. This is a significant aspect of the adadada rite. When the head midawo pours the amidze into the pot the rest of the midawo and those who have specific charms start to chant and invoke different deities and ancestor. This some times turns to be chaos because everyone transcends into a spiritual realm with the chanting, charming and summoning until the amidze starts to catch fire. As the charming, chanting and incantations are in progress the priests also mention the name of the deceased several times. The various incantations make it possible for the fire under the pot to penetrate through the bottom and light the amidze The pot does not burn and the surrounding people do not feel it as if they were by a fire. It is believed tha t at the moment the fire penetrates through the bottom of the pot to lite the red oil the deceased spirit has what causes the fire to burn in this way. Several people clo se to this ritual ground can see the flames of the fire very high and the heat it causes them but the people by the fire do not feel the same. That is the ritualistic aspects of the rite. As the fire burns midawo who are very mystical or spiritually equipp ed get closer to the fire, dip their hands into the burning pot and rub the amidze against their body. Yeve members or other priests or priestesses who are not spiritually strong do not do this because they will end up falling victim to the fire. I must em phasize that it is when an individual witnesses this rite that the person knows the seriousness and the spirituality involved in the rite. Drumming is an important aspect of adadada. As with singing, the drumming that accompanies the adadada rite is a mea ns of reaching the divine and experiencing the presence of the deities. The principal drumming associated with adadada is adavu It is
144 a dance drumming with a heightened spiritual moment. The drumming is normally at its heightened pace in tempo and also ve ry intense. The details of adavu are discussed in the drumming and dance chapters. Thus, by performing the adadada alongside different intensities of invocation, the deceased experiences the divine atmosphere of the spirits and the deceased is believed to finally reunite with the deities and ancestors. This rite is possible to start around 6:00pm and last until almost 3:00am the next day. Consequences This ritual is believed to be very demanding on the deceased as he/she unites with the Yeve ancestors. If t he deceased family members refuse to perform the adadada ritual it may result in other threats or even death of another per son in the family. Mbiti dead may give instructions, or enquire about the family, or make requests to be g iven something, and may even threaten to punish members of the family for not carrying out particular instruction or for not carrying out suffi ciently for the living : 158). If the spirit of the deceased does not reach the ancestors, it is belie ved that the spirit does not have any place to reside and therefore it continues to hunt and traumatize the family until the adadada rite is performed. Adzaletsi L ele Final Funeral Rites Adzaletsi lele is one of the important rituals performed as part o f the final funeral rite for the Yeve cult members. Adzaletsi lele is a phrase that can be broken down to help the reader understand the literal and the deeper meaning. In Ewe language adzale means soap. Tsi means water and lele is the act of washing somet hing or bathing. For example me tsi lem I am bathing and tsi lele water for bathing. Also, adzaletsi normally refers to foamy water. For instance, when people wash their clothing
145 they sometimes make adzaletsi (foamy or soapy water) before soaking their clothing in it to wash. Therefore adzaletsi lele their body or their head in the shower. The purpose of usi ng soap is to be very clean from dirt or sweat by washing them off the body. Translating this into the context of a By performing adzaketsi lele it is believed tha t the bereaved family is being cleaned from all debts or settled all expenses incurred during the organization of the deceased funeral rite. When a Yeve cult member dies there are lots of rituals performances that take place. The number of rituals to be performed depends on the deity into which the Yeve member was initiated. Most of the rituals must be done before the Yeve member is finally buried. However, there are a few rituals that can only be performed a few days after the deceased is buried. Adzal etsi lele is one of them. Adzaletsi lele as a ritual is not organized by the Yeve cult. It is the bereaved family that organizes it. Basically, when a person dies individuals invest or loan money to the deceased family to help organize the funeral. The exp enses incurred include buying a coffin, food to feed people traveling from far distances and buying the deceased a funeral dress (funerals are donations from friends, lov e ones, welfare groups and immediate and extended family members to settle the loans and other debts that were taken. When the debts and the loans are finally settled, adzaletsi lele is performed signifying the complete end of the funeral activities. It is at the same time a form of celebration. During my field research I
146 asked what happens if the bereaved family does not want to perform adzaletsi lele Agbayiza responded by saying that it is a custom that must be observed but did not say anything regardin g the consequence for not performing it. It is popularly known and performed with all Yeve members and everyone is on watch to see it performed when a Yeve member is buried. It appears as though there is some kind of stigma attached to any family that is n ot able to perform it. The Organization The moment the deceased family is ready to perform adzaletsi lele a delegation is sent to the hugbonoga or head midawo (high priest in charge) to discuss and plan the time and date that is convenient for everyone. Ap proaching the hugbono or the midawo is done through a process called dzadodo Dzadodo with specific regards to adzaletsi lele is a type of commitment fee that is paid to the priest in charge to confirm the readiness of the family to undertake the ritual. W hen the dza (money) is accepted the priest then informs the members of the cult to note the date and time. Since adzaletsi is a celebration, food and drinks are involved. The items normally required for adzaletsi lele are gbor (goat), koklo (chicken), tom ela (fish), bliwor (corn dough) and molu (rice). The goat, chicken and fish are used to prepare a variety of soup and stews such as amadetsi (spinach soup), ewodetsi (light soup), dedetsi (palmnut soup), azidetsi (groundnut/peanut butter soup), fetridetsi (okro soup) and molutadi (stew three containers belonging to the midawo azagunowo and husiwo The midawo is given a variety of the food but more importantly he is given the legs of the goats and the chicken. This has a symbolic meaning. The midawo is expected to inform the members of the Yeve cult regarding this event. As such he needs to have strong feet and legs to
147 enable him do on his errands. Therefore, the legs of t he goat and chicken are given to him as a symbol to add to the strength of his feet and legs. As he eats the food he is reminded of the significance. In the same manner, the drummers are given the arm of the goat and the wing of the chicken. As they eat th e arms and the wings it reminds them that they will be investing their own arms in drumming and cannot get tired. In addition to the drummers food they are also given approximately 400 to 500 Ghana cedi, which is equivalent to 35 or 40 dollars. The husiwo are given any other part of the goat and chicken. Their food does not have any symbolic meaning to it. As part of the ritual some of the food is placed in a bowl and taken to the graveside of the deceased. Similar to other Ewe people, the members of the Ye ve cult head of the grave with the belief that he/she will eat it. At the gravesi de, tsifodi is performed for the ancestors to accept the deceased and to ask the deceased to prepare a better place for the living who w ill eventually die. Mbiti the relationship going between them and the living dead, chiefly through libation, offering of food and other items, prayers and the observation of proper rites towards the departe 158). The Performance Another important aspect of adzaletsi lele is the dance drumming performance. This is what almost everyone anticipates in the community. Although the deceased was part of the Yeve cult it is not all the Yeve repertoire that is performed at this event. The midawo in charge of the cult chooses the dance drumming that should be performed.
148 T hey are mostly the less spiritual types such as husago and ako from the Yeve repertoire and usually the popular agbadza dance drumming. The audience participates freely in any of the dances, but on condition that they do not wear shoes or shirts or blouse s. The men must wrap a cloth around their waist and dance with a bare chest, as is typical of agbadza dancing. The women use a second cloth or fabric to wrap over their chest. They can also wrap it around their neck and tie a knot at the back of their neck During the dance drumming, drummers take short breaks to rest their arms while celebratio n of life. In case there are some disputes within the family it is during this rite that every misunderstanding and anger is resolved. I must emphasize that the adzaletsi lele rite is a powerful and a unifying moment for the Yeve members, the bereaved fami ly and the community at large. Alagadzedze Defilement There are numerous dance clubs or dance drumming groups across the southeastern corner of the Volta region. Each dance club has a constitution that defines the rules and regulations to govern and cr eate discipline among the people. There are times when the community is summoned to come out and listen to the rules and and understanding between the dance club members a nd non members. As the rules have been publicly announced, anyone who may go contrary to any of the ethic codes will receive an appropriate punishment.
149 The Yeve cults in southeastern Ewe towns also have sets of rules for members that are shared with the co some of the most sophisticated and rigorous due to its religious nature. The Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa is no exception. The rules governing the Yeve cult and its members are well known to the communi ty members. For instance, it is widely known in Ave Dakpa that a non Yeve cult member cannot enter the cult. They cannot insult a Yeve initiate. They cannot gossip about the doctrines of the cult and they cannot make mockery of them. As such, the Yeve memb ers also know their responsibilities, especially how to relate to non members and the kind of conversations they can have together. The consequences for going against these rules can be dire. For example, the moment a person insults a Yeve cult member it is believed that his/her life will be full of misery and regrets. It is said in Ewe, egble amea to as alaga Defiling a Yeve cult member is one of the most seriou s offences according to Yeve codes of conduct. The defiled member is said to gli in a somewhat abnormal manner, such as screaming without inhibition regardless of place or situation, even in the presence of a high ranking chief. Wit h this action the husi (Yeve member) takes advantage of alagadzedze, a redress mechanism for defilement. There are a few people who have seen alaga on the streets, farms or in some locations and wonder why that term is used to describe such a situation. My uncle Sofeda explained this to me when I was in secondary school and Agbanu, an elder in my hometown, confirmed his explanation. Agbanu says: Alagadzedze is derived from three different words as ela ga and dzedze Ela among Ewe speaking people generall y refers to a fish or animal. But
150 in this context, it signifies an animal. It refers to those animals laworde (wild animal) that growl searching for food or out of discomfort. And ga dzedze is a process of imitating or impersonating somethi ng. Therefore alagadzedze C.K Ladzekpo 2 also refers to alaga or alagadzedze y 09, 2010). Explaining this terminology further, Amuzu Kokoroko gave an example of when people tell us in Ewe, enye la nutor or elatoe ne nye, tagbo mele asiwo o Kokoroko April 10, 2012). Causes of Defiling a Yeve Member There are three possible ways that a person may defile a Yeve cult member. These are a bit difficult to explain but I will try to do so one after the other. The gods into which the members are initiated forbid certain words. As members are initiated the sacred and ritual substances that link them and their gods do not permit such insults. Aspects of these ritual substances may be imbue d in them during scarification process to tr igger a situation of this kind. A very serious and offensive abuse is to say avu or avu nawo or avu yaka This is a common insult given during an altercation. When a disagreement or a fight ensues between a Yeve member and non member it is possible that bo th tempers will rise and may lead to some kind of insult. That is particularly common among women in Eweland as men tend to engage in physical fights instead. During an exchange of abusive words the non member may loose her temper and insult the Yeve initi ate using the word or 2 C.K Ladzekpo is a master drummer and a professor at University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco.
151 phrase avu, avu yaka or avu nawo Obviously the weight this insult carries using the Ewe language is nowhere near the English interpretation of it. It is such a terrible insult that is aga inst the ethics of the Yeve cult therefore no one can use it on them. An even worse insult is to say menye mi de nuwo me cult members. I n fact, it is nothing close to raising the middle finger to someone in the United State. The effect of saying this is as if they were to put the Yeve member in a heap of thorns. It sets them to a torture, which is why it can affect them to the extent that they become alaga or defiled. Another thing that can also cause a Yeve member to become alaga is to call his or her day name. For example, a female born on Monday is named Adzo a male Saturday born is Kwame male born on Tuesday is Kobla and a female bo rn on Friday is Afi These names are very common outside of the Yeve cult. However, after a person becomes initiated into the Yeve cult not even his/her own parents can call him/her by their day name. Swwor mes changed from the African names, the members of the Yeve are given the Yeve names. The names given to them would be announced at their graduation performance to inform the community and forbids the public from calling the me (2008: 11). This is the rule of the cult and it must be observed as such. If a non member mistakenly or intentionally mentions the day name instead of their religious name, they
152 The third insult comes in the form of degrading the status and the personality of Yeve initiates. For instance, a rich man referencing by pointing a finger directly to the Yeve initiates calling him/her ame de ahe (a poorest or a good for nothing person) or spit right behind the initia smells and is undesirable, inhuman and possibly deserves to be on in this rich person a life lesson the Yeve initiates make sure it takes that person a lifetime to pay for his/her gesture and attitude. Thus, the Yeve initiate goes to report the husi and the husunu are relatively poor. But it does not also mean that rich or wealthy citizens should take advantage of their situation instead of assisting them and the community at large. As such, when this happens the punishment for a person with this attitude can take variety of forms. The culprit can be imbue d with some spiritual sickness such that he/she will spend al l of his/her money without being cured. Eventually the money runs out and he/she becomes poor and experience s what it is to be poor. In addition, the midawo or the Yeve cult leaders are capable of torturing someone spiritually. They can perform a kind of s acrifice or libation that can affect the culprit leading the culprit to become a member of the cult The libation is discussed at the end of this chapter. I must emphasize that the punishment for the culprit sounds very cruel however, its purpose is to te ach the entire community to be respectful to each other and be each s It is through some of these cruel punishments that other people learn their own lessons. The (Re)Action In all three instances of defilement, the aggrieved husi takes ch arge by running wild through the principal streets of the town exclaiming what happened and then
153 entering the cult house to narrate the incident to the head priest. The head priest performs specific rituals to settle the Yeve member as he investigates the case at the earliest possible time, preferably within a day. Even if the non Yeve member wins the case they he/she will still have to buy a few items to cleanse the Yeve member. However, the Yeve members almost always win the ir case s If the Yeve member i s right then he/she runs wild into the bush. The alaga then leaves the public sphere for a maximum of two weeks before undergoing a cleansing ceremony. At this point the defiled Yeve member does not wear his/her ordinary clothing. But goes with his godpar ents into the forest to cut leaves and branches to create a special costume. In the forest, special plants and leaves associated with the cult are used as a garment for the alaga, which is believed to help sustain him while in the wilderness. The alaga als o carries two pieces of ritual sticks (like the handle of a tennis racket) for protection and also use then to accompany him/herself when singing. He comes out of the bush on some afternoons to declare his/her innocence in song: Ao !ao! ao, Aboboboboe! M ele aho dzi lo! Devie menye nye me nya o lo! Kwakue dom loo! Ao! ao! ao, Aboboboe! (screaming ) I am in the wilderness. I am very innocent and know nothing. It is Kweku who cause d me to this. I am in the wilderness because of him. The alag a sings these phrases repeatedly and other songs as well. The alaga remains in the bush until the one who defiled him has enough money to purchase the
154 alaga goes home at a time when nobody will see him, preferably midnight, and eats there are costumes for hu sikpokpo that identify him as being new in the Yeve religion, the defiled initiates also have a unique garment for use in the bush. Alagalele The Arrest and C leansing Alagalele is the process of arresting the alaga and performing the cleansing rituals. The timing of alagalele buy the items before the arrest. If the culprit does not have money the alaga will remain in the wilderness and the bush for a long time. Even when the funding is available it sometimes it takes a few days or a week. The moment the culprit is ready with the items for the cleansing ceremony, he reports to the head priest and his counsel. Selected members of the Yeve cult dress up with their singing instruments adodo (multiple be lls), organize a search party to look for the alaga and bring him/her into the cult house. The compulsory items needed for the cleansing rite are amidze (red oil), kokloyibo (black chicken), koklotsu yi (white rooster), todziha (gin), akpeteshi (local gin) and two hundred (200) Ghana cedi. In addition, there are a few other things that may be required. The cleansing ritual performance begins by examining the items brought by the offender in the presence of the victim. The victim is taken into a secret ritua l room by both midawo and minawo to be bathed for purification with sacred herbs. Only the authorities from the cult witness the cleansing ceremonies. When the cleansing is completed, the initiate dresses in the expensive clothes the offender provided as p art of the punishment. The cleansed initiate is then processed to the dancing arena to dance with the rest of the members.
155 The significance of the alagalele is to reinstate the defile person back to his/her normal life. It also means that the culprit is f ree from all the charges billed to him/her. It also teach es a lesson to the entire community to be respectful and do what is right by law according to the customs and value s, which are at the heart of the people. Tsifodi Libation The re are countless tra ditional religions and ritual forms practiced amongst diverse ethnicities throughout the continent of Africa. Although these religions are considered as paganism, fetishism, superstition, and mystical among people who are unfamiliar with them, scholars of African religion such as Idowu (1973), Parrinder (1974), Ray (1976), Mbiti (1990) among others, have argued that they are a vital part of life. One of the many important practices of African religion is the poring of libation. Libation is a means of inter Being. Prior to the advent of missionaries and the acceptance of Christianity, the only appropriate means of communicating, offering and honoring the Supreme God, ancestral spirits and other divinitie s was through libation. In Ghana, libation is performed during national events, marriage ceremonies, festivals, when moving into new homes or new jobs, royal stool ceremonies, rites of passage, reception of important delegations, success in important enter prises and during accidents, death or funeral events. A variety of ethnic groups use local terminologies or languages and dialects to describe the libation ritual. For example, the Akans refers to it as nsaguo ; the Ga people living in the capital of Ghana Accra call it shitswaa ; the Dagomba or Dagbamba people residing in the northern part of Ghana call it suhugu ; and the Ewe people in the Volta region located in the southeastern Ghana refer to it as tsifodi
15 6 Tsifodi comes from two words: tsi (water) and foedi (act of pouring [liquid] on the ground). The Ewe people conceive of tsifodi as a form of veneration, a religious practice established from time immemorial to remember and honor the Supreme God, deities and ancestors. They strongly hold to the view th at the establishment of tsifodi is from God Omnipresent and has been practiced by their ancestors recorded in His holy book, the Bible. Sometimes, it is also referred to as a drink offering. Kumassah traces and reaffirms the institution of libation in the occurs five times, the plural libations ten times, drink offering thirty times and drink offerings tw enty two times in 21). As a result of the belief that this practice is an order from God, the Ewes hold it in a very high esteem. Through the encouragement from tsifodi ancestors and deities support and protect the lives of humans. The practice of tsifodi is therefore ever present in the lives of the Ewe people. For example, it is a norm that if a family member or a visitor comes to your house water is the first thing that is given whether the visitor is thirsty or not. This is a sign of welcoming and acce water and drops a little of it on the floor to inform the ancestors of his safe arrival (no matter how short or long the distance) and acceptance into the house. Some serious practitione rs, especially priests and religious leaders, go to the extent of leaving the room to go to the compound of the house where they call out all the family ancestors anyone can begin to exchange greetings.
157 In the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa, tsifodi is a potent link between deities, spirits, ancestors and human beings. It is considered a powerful and sacred form of prayer in the cult. Agbayiza performed tsifodi (which I will dis cuss later) upon my arrival at Ave Dakpa and I asked him to tell me what tsifodi was about. He explained that tsifodi is nufofo kple togbeawo (communication with ancestors) and gbedododa toxe (a special prayer). To paraphrase him, tsifodi is a dekornu (cus tomary rite) performed as a link to communicate with the togbeawo (ancestors); it is gbedododa (an essential prayer), a request depending on the situation (pressing or calming), a sacrifice to mawuwo (gods) to achieve a particular purpose (Agbayiza August 12, 2010). Like Agbayiza, Gbokpa Adrianyi also described tsifodi gbedoda (prayer) to gods and ancestors marking an Various scholars also discuss libation as a prayer For example, Ampene describes mpae (prayer) or by the general reference nsaguo (literally, the pouring of also adds ng some food on the ground accompanied in tra ditional religion Shorter ruling motive of the religious believer. It is a sign of religion wherever it is alive religion in action and through it differing cultu 1). For the priests in the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa, it is evident from various oral accounts that the only effective way to be in touch with Supreme God and deities is through tsifodi or dzatsi consider prayer as an effective communication between them and their creator then it is
158 also true for wh at we do here in the Yeve cult because God and the deities respond to our prayers for what we ask them even for the community here in Ave Dakpa (Personal in the work of M biti the community at large, libation as a form of prayer may request for rain, peace, the cessation of epidemics and dangers to the nation, success in war or raids, the acceptance of s acrifice and offering, and fertility fo 62). He further elucidates the contexts and forms of individual and communal essence of prayer in the libation process and explains: African traditional prayer generally includes pr aise, thanksgiving, a declaration of the state of affairs in which the prayers are offered, and requests. Such prayers always have concrete intentions, and people do things as: good hea lth, healing, protection from danger, safety in traveling or some other undertaking, security, prosperity, preservation of life, peace, and vari ous benefits for individuals (1991: 61). There is enough evidence in the scholarly works reference above and th e native Ewe perspective. I agree from personal experience growing in the house of my grandfather, a chief and a religious leader who performs tsifodi several times a day depending on various needs for himself, family, clan and the territory that he ruled. The Officiating Priest In Ghanaian custom generally, tsifodi is performed by an elderly person, a family head or a priest of a particular shr ine. According to Sarpong libation [ tsifodi usually done by men or linguists or official spokesmen rather t head of the family or the clan performs the ceremony for the family or clan. The most
159 senior of the male members of the royal family do 22). In the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa, it is the head mid awo or hugbono who officiates tsifodi No female initiate does it. It is important that the selected priest who officiates the tsifodi must possess the necessary spiritual forces to open the doors for spiritual communication. Stressing this reality Elebuib on adds that, the officiates or the priests abstained f 23). During tsifodi the officiating priest is required to r emove his shoes or san dals, hat, cap and watch (if any) to show a sign of respect for mother earth deities and the ancestors. As Yeve custom demands, the midawo officiating that particular ceremony must bare his chest and only wrap a piece of cloth around his waist (without shi rt) to signify supplication and humility. It also gives the signal that the priest has a clear mind and thoughts. As such, he is of no evil and ready to intercede for those who are in any predicament. Additionally, it is required that the officiating pries t is knowledgeable in the oral literature, chronicles of ancestors and deities, their by names and praise names to evoke them in th e rightful manner. Fisher memorizes the recently living dead in prayer, and he recites a list of genealogy from the petition. Elements of Tsifodi and their Significance The item s used for tsifodi performance varies depending on each situation. In the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa there are four items that constitute the tsifodi performance.
160 These are tsi (water), bliwo (corn flour), tre (calabash) and akpeteshi (distilled local liquor). Water is an important element in tsifodi rituals. It is believed that ancestors are at work all the time directing the affairs of mankind. The water is believed to cool the heart of the ancestors and deities. The priest stirs the water in a clockwise dir ection, symbolizing the continuity of life and genuine relationship between the ancestral spirits, deities and the living. Bliwo is corn flour that is thoroughly mixed with the water. This unique mixture is also known generally among the Ewes as dzatsi. 3 The officiating priest stirs the dzatsi with his right hand as he declares his mission of the gathering and the reason for the ritual. The Yeve members believe that food, shelter, and water are basic necessities for human comfort. Therefore, during the tsi fodi ceremony the priest provides these needs for the ancestors who are believed to exist in the spiritual realm on earth. The bliwo that is used to make the dzatsi represents the food that deities and ancestors are bel ieved to consume. Sarpong emphasizes tsifodi ] purpose is to feed the spirits so that they would 23). Among the Ewe people food in general is important is an important gesture and a means of establishing a cordial relationshi p with people and friends. Therefore the dzatsi, which is believed to be the food, is poured on the ground for the ancestors to reinforce the links between them and human beings. In addition, water is also poured on sometimes the side or on the dzatsi with the belief t hat it will helps digest the dzatsi and quench the 3 See Gaba (1996)
161 Etre the calabash, is an important ritual vessel for tsifodi performance. There is an Ewe proverb that says, amesi oli nya la, eyae oli wuna a the significance of the calabash as a vessel during tsifodi rite? In the past, the calabash was the most important instrument used in place of plates and cups. Ancestors use d the calabash to fetch water and also to drink and eat fro m In short, i t serve d many purpose s and the ancestors identif ied themselves with the calabash. It is also believed to be natural unlike cups and glasses that are made using sharp materials or s ome sort of chemical to mix the elements in their creation. Alcohol or liquor is not used in all tsifodi in the Yeve cult. There are deities who accept sodas depending on the situation and others take alcohol to have their responsibilities fulfilled in a t imely manner. The priests in the Yeve cult know the likes and dislikes of their deities as well as what aggravates or appeases them. As such akpeteshi is used when there is an emergency or a pressing situation that needs immediate reaction such as an armed robbery. Akpeteshi in its ritual context is considered a stimulant and a driving force that activates and arouses the interest of human thought for the deities or ancestors to accomplish a particular obligation. It is believed to intoxicate the deities wh o then bring their wrath upon any perpetrators. Purpose of Tsifodi Tsifodi is performed for various reasons and events. When people wake up from bed they can perform tsifodi to thank the ancestors or God for his protection through the night. It is perform ed to discharge information, petition, forgiveness and thanksgiving to the deities and ancestors. An important role of tsifodi is to invoke the wrath of the
162 deities. In certain parts of Africa, including within the Yeve cult, malevolent forces are believed to surround humans and act upon them in good and bad ways. When a force acts in ways that have a negative effect on a human being, the person must seek help from the deities. As such tsifodi and sometimes sacrifices are the only way s to remedy the situati on. Elebu ibon explains some of these factors. He writes: It is believed that there was order, peace and tranquility in the beginning of the universe. Disorder with its accompanying problems and hardships set created problems. Man is therefore considered as the architect of his own fortunes. This, in part, has to do with the type of destiny he chooses. Another reason being the mishaps posed by the malevolent agents like the wi 37) In Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa there are two types of tsifodi performed. They relate to the discussion above in that the first in done in more general, good contexts while the other is more of a threat and considered bad. The first category considered the good tsifodi is performed to give thanks and praise to the Supreme Being, ancestors, spirits and deities for their guidance, protection and strengthening powers. This type of tsifodi is accompanied sometimes with sacrifice to show appreciation. For ins tance, surviving a c ar accident; return from a long trip or for below. The second category is less frequently performed because of its destructive nature. Tsifodi in this category is pe rform against evil people such as murders, armed robbers, rapists, thieves and people who are a threat to the community in some way. The ancestors with the collaboration of the deities and spirits send their wrath upon such people according to the type of petition discharged to them. In fact, it can even result in the loss of human life. For example, I asked Tsale in an interview why he thinks
163 the Yeve cult should give a severe punishment to such people. This is how he explains it: Those evil people are not tolerated in the community so they are quickly subjected to the god of thunder or the snake god for action. If someone is hunting or does something to ruin my life, I will mention their names to the etro or the vodu that I worship, and with the fav orite gift and drink, narrate the story and put the etro into action by spitting the drink or liquor into his face. Believe me, the thunder will strike the person dead or the (Per sonal conversation with Tsale, August 11, 2006). Tsifodi in this category becomes a mechanism for crime prevention because people do not want to loose their life or go through the moments of torture that can come. For instance, towns such as Anloga, Woe, T egbi, Denu, Adina, Blekusu, Afiadenyigba, Dzodze, Dzita, Nogokpo, and Klikor among many others have experienced less criminal activities in present day than in the past due to the quick intervention of the so invoked through tsifodi Figure 4 1. Agbay iza performing tsifodi with Yevesiwo supporting
164 Structural Organization and Examples of Tsifodi Tsifodi be it good or a threat, has a simple but detailed organizational structure that the officiating priest normally adheres to. The structure includes a ca ll for attention, invocation of ancestors/deities/spirits, declaration of purpose, contract/agreement (based on the situation), the specific petition being made, prayer for general blessing and favor, and conclusion. Agbayiza, my principal informant, perfo rms this tsifodi stated and labeled below: A Agoo! Agoo!! Medo Agoo, zigbo zieto Attention! Attention! B Oh! Togbeawo, meyo mi Meyo mi Ashito Agbelifufu 4 mikata ken Azeafe, meyo wo kenken Eye meyo Gakpleadzi, meyo E ye meyo Sofia, meyo wo Sodzide, meyo wo, Logosu, meyo wo Eye meyo ametsia D zido, meyo wo Meyo Agbogbla 5 Ebe ye dze keto fe me, Meyo wo kenken. Oh! Ancestral spirits I call you Ashito Agbelifufu, I call you Azeafe, come and witness Gakpleadzi, I call you Sofia, I call you Sodzide (deity). I call you Ancestor Dzido. I call you 4 name, which he inherited from his grandfather. 5 Agbogbla is a name of one of the wealthy deities, which is used as a metaphor in this context. This metaphor is to make the deity angry so that he leaves his home and rushes to wherever he operates. That is tease.
165 Agbogbla, I call you The one who arrived in the home of the poor I call you now for sure. C As hito Agbelifufu, wo Eye newoe nami kenken Nyatefe, egba mi eva kpe. Wonu dewo li vasede fifia Mie yom mie medem vivi nada si dedzi Dewo wonua, newo koe yia, ameta noa dzi, Esia me ko gbeto a to ako ayi abe alesi Hodzi, Hodzi woe tututu eye Atanve dua nyo la Medi be afesia me ha nanyo nenema Amesi va nua wofe la, nana efe susu na vu Nusiwo kata lem wole la, ne dze eye eme na ko N e wotsoe yia, woava kplo togbeaviwo ha Atso yi deafotome, abe alesi afetovia va ene Ne meku etso megbela, nye nuko nano anyi. Ashito Gbelifufu, you brought Yeve And we also took over from you. Truly, we have gathered here today We need your assistance and support. Like Hodzi at Atanve I want my home also to be bright and prosper So give him (me) a retentive memory That every coverage and recoding will come very clearly. If there is a success, our children will also benefit and rtravel abroad So that when I die, my name and legacy will not be lost. D Evo ne ameade le afiade be ye nye Hugbono Be yea te gbeto kpo la, ah! Nee xo aha sia eye meda tua amea o la, Ke mega nye kpoge o, enye gbloe na wo! Ne ameade medi be mano agbe o la Nu atiko na eya nuto! But if someone claims to be a Hugbono to challenge my spirit or tempt me, alas! if you take this drink without striking. I promise you will never see me again. If someone plots or wishes for my death, the person will rather run into his grave.
166 E Evo fafa neva me, amesi va nusia woge la Eme nefane miamiamia, Yevuwo fe ko natro de mia nu, ale be nusianu na dzedzi, ano gadzi Evo ne mewoe o la, edz i wo tsi ge hee. May this project be a success S o that more researchers will come back A nd le arn about our practices and you. Finally, it will be your disgrace if you do not compromise F Mia sro fe aha enye esi! Tohono, wo aha enye esi Tohono, wo aha enye ma loo (spit out the drink) this is for our wife, 6 (spit out the drink) for the thunder god. Tohono, I say drink this for action! Sofia 7 (sacred medicine) drink and (Agb ayiza August,15 2010 This is a type of tsifodi performed mainly for protection. Agbayiza performed this as a response to a particular confrontation that started after I became very popular in Ave Dakpa and participated in all activities with them. One af ternoon, another Yeve priest saw me coming from church and did not like the idea. He confronted Agbayiza for teaching me aspects of Yeve rituals and thought I was sharing the Yeve knowledge system with church members. Agbayiza felt threatened and also want ed to protect my safety. As we can read from this tsifodi Agbayiza evoked the deities, gave thanks for my life and summoned the deities to protect him and me during the course of the research. 6 The wife here refers to the snake god, the Da which is a wife to the god of thunder, So It is believed that if you are a Hunor or Hugbonor who is initiated into these two deities then the female deity could be addressed as your wife and the male as your father. 7 Sofia is the sacred medicine placed in a bottle for life and death.
167 The A section of the tsifodi is a call for the attention of t he audience or the individuals around and to the spirits believed to be in the atmosphere. The B section evokes deities of the town and universe as well as ancestral spirits, some of whose names are mentioned such as Agbogbla Ashito Agbelifufu Gakpleadzi and Zeafe The C delivers the purpose of the tsifodi and reveals some benefits that might come from my research such as documenting a history for the town and the Yeve cult. In the D section Agbayiza requests that we should both be protected. Besides this he also swore to the deities that in case they allowed any misfortune to occur, he w ould use his own powers to defend me. He made it clear that he would no longer be a link between them and the cult members if they disappointed him. After all these petit ions, in section E he also requested that the deities should bless my project and my stay in the town. In the final section F, however, he offers drink and food to the deities and reminds them again to be active in their works. Agbayiza performed the tsif odi below when a group of thieves went to rob things. Gbeda is part of the Yeve cult and went to report the incident to Agbayiza, the head priest of the cult so that he may seek revenge. A Agoo! Agoo! Agoo! Medo agoo zi eto Attention, attention attention! I call for three times B Hodzie do Ho do ta Ho yi xo
168 The rising sun, I call The mid day sun The sun that sets, I called C Togbeawo me yo mi kata As hito Agbelifufu, me yowo Tohono, me yowo he Voduda meyo wo Afedo me trowo pete meyo mi Dakpa voduwo meyo mi kekeken Mele fefle le mia nku me All the ancestors, I call Ashito Agbelifufu, I call The thunder god, I invoke you The royal p ython, I invoke you All family spirits, I honor you All Dakpa deities, I invoke you I naked myself here before you D Tohono, enya de vadi Fiafiwo va gbe afe na Gbeda Gbeda viwoe ntonto wo nye Gbeda fe dzie vudzo gbagbagba Edzi be na de amea a fia Tohono, a case had happened And Gbeda is your own daughter Her heart is burning and angry She wants an instant revenge E Dadagbe kple miano voduda Nenye be mie de amea de go o Ke mienyae be nuse mele miasi o Miayi abia hlo le vodu bubugbo N e mie fo dzatsia name fia ko Afo netso nami kabakaba Dadagbe, etua ne no didim Thunder god and the royal python If you do not expose or revenge I bet, then you have no powers We will seek refuge from othe rs
169 When I pour down this libation Be quick and get on your feet Thunder god, keep shooting F Tohono, ewoe tua dage Wo aha nye yi, Ne enoe la mui de wo nu Voduawo kple trow kata Mia toe nye yi, noe de wo nu Sofia, ewo li, meli Etefe mega didi o Nye me tsi koge name o Ne miede amea de go la Me maxe nuxe name Mixo aha mia no looo Tohono, you are known for firing Here is your special drink Drink it against the culprit All the deities and spirits Here is yours for t he same purpose Sofia, I live because of you Please, no time to waste at all I will not offer any of you water I will not offer any of you water When you find the culprits I will make a big sacrifice for you Here is the alcohol drink all of it As usual, the A section here calls attention of the spirits and the people around. The B section acknowledges the sun god that is believed to link to the worship of the Egyptian sun god Ra. 8 The C also acknowledges the deities in the Yeve cult such as the thunder god normally referred to as tohono dadagbe It also acknowledges the wife of the thunder god, voduda the royal python that is also part of the Yeve cult. In addition, all the family deities, spirits and ancestors including those of the town in Ave Dakpa are called to be a witness and to help in this endeavor. The D section declares the purpose 8 See Kumassah 2009
170 for this rite and E is the agreement or contract being established between them. Finall y, instead of a blessing in the F section, there is a threat made and also a prom ise that when the job is done sacrifices will be given. It is very obvious that tsifodi is a powerful form of prayer in the Yeve cult and can be performed for both good and bad reasons. In addition to tsifodi, all the ritual forms discussed in this chapte r are rites are compulsory and must be performed respectively for the Yeve member during the appropriate events. Music is an important factor that is entwine d with ritual performance to reach the divine atmosphere of the deities. The next chapter discusses different the types of drum music performed during Yeve events and ceremonies. It also points out the roles of drummers, instruments and drum text that enable drummers to perform effectively.
171 CHAPTER 5 DRUMMING DRUM PERFORMANCE Drumming in African comm unities is frequently described as a way of life an d drum mer s are viewed as highly respect ed and necessary individuals within a community Many scholarly works have sougnt to describe the organization of drumming amon g different ethnic groups in Africa Ma jor scholars who have written of the drumming traditions of Africa include Jones (1959), Nketia (1968; 1975 ), Ladzekpo (1971), Ladzekpo and Ladzekpo (1983), Pantaleoni (1972), Locke (1978; 1980; 1989; 1990; 1992), Chernoff (1979), Charry (2000), Euba (1990 ), Anku (1999), Tang (2000), Burns (2005; 2009), Younge (2010) and Amegago (2011) This literature covers the structural organization, techniques and significant functions of drumming and the people who play the drums. Many oral accounts reported in these works state some version of the idea that a village without drumming is said to be dead. 1 It is therefore concluded that drumming is frequently conceptualized as an important life force and energy across the continent of Africa. Explaining the significanc e of drumming as an essential aspec t of African life Nketia writes : W e in Africa are very fond of drumming. We drum when we are merry. We drum when we are mourning the dead. We drum when there is a durbar. We drum when we go to war. We drum when there is 3). This characterization is especially true of the drumming traditions of Ghana. In Ghana, drums are important among all ethnic groups and dance d rumming is a means of bringing communit ies families or individuals together to celebrate human life in all of its forms Nowhere are drums more important than among the Ewe speaking people of Ghana where there exist countless types of drumming groups. Practically all 1 See Agawu Nketia (1974), Agordoh (1994) and Aga wu (2003)
172 event s, activit ies and gathering s of Ewe people are a ccompanied by drumming. Drumming is so entwined with daily life that if there is a ban on drumming (which occasionally occurs due to certain ritual observances) the Ewe will use cupboards, wooden boxes or anything that can produce a variety o f quality sounds as a drum. Ewe d rum performance s are organized within the context of various events. Some are based on ceremonies marking important events in human life cycles such as birth, puberty engagements, marriage/wedding and funerals. Other drum performances take place during the enstoolment and destoolment ceremonies of chiefs and leaders 2 Additionally, drum performance prepare s the warriors for battle Agawu another musical scholar from Ghana says drumming is sometimes used to prepare soldi ers (psychologically) for war; and finally, Muslims frequently use drums to wake wo 18). D rumming and the events in which it occurs can be categorized into three broad types : socio recreational, ceremonial and religious drumming types. Soci o recreational drumming types among the Ewe are referred to as plasevuwo or ahiavuwo Plase is derived from the English word for pleasure. Thus, plasevuwo denotes pleasured drumming types while the ahiavu describes romantic or romantic ized drumming types. There are also socio recreational drumming types known as nuxlomevuwo that are performed in order to educate and advi s e the community. 3 Drums also frequently accompany songs that impart moral values and educate 2 See Nketia (1968) and Agordoh (1994) 3 See Amegago (2011)
173 audiences. Here, the dru mming accompaniment help s the singers articulate and disseminate the message accurately and with perfection. A mong the Ew e, social and recreational drumming includes and number of individual genres known as borborbor, akpese, tuidzi, egbanegba, agbadza, kp oka, gahu, kinka, adzomanyi, gota, kpatsa, babashiko, dunekpoe/adzro, Anlo kete, nyayito/dekolenyanu, atsiafulegedi, takara, atsia, viedono and gabada among many others. These styles may be performed during a variety of social occasions Ceremonial or occa sional drumming identifies styles that are attached to specific ceremonies and festivals and performed only on those occasions D rumming most often including dance is frequently linked to a particular festival, the marking of historical events and to cer emonies. Also, some of these drumming types are performed when specific people such as warriors, chiefs or elders die. In recent times, however, the rapid emergence and spread of amateur dance companies has led to the performance of some of these occasiona l drumming types to be more frequent. Examples of these drumming types are gadzo agbekor or atsiagbekor atrikpi kpegisu atsokla misego afli adogbo/adzogbo/adzohu and adevu to mention a few. Religious drumming, as the name implies, are types of drum ming connected to the religious event s and ceremon ies of a particular community, shrine or cult. In addition, religious drumming types are also performed to honor or dispell spirits and deities and to eradicate the disease s believed to be punishment from t he gods or spirits. Specific religious drumming styles are also associated with specific deities, spirits, and cults. Traditional religious drumming can be grouped broadly into three types : (a) participatory public drumming (b) public medicinal drumming, and (c) restricted or
174 sacred drumming One example of the participatory public religious dance drumming in which people may freely participate is afa drumming and dance performance. Another performance that is sometimes participated by the public and also affiliated to medicinal shrines are atigari brekete 4 also known as gorovodu 5 hogbato kodjo mamiwota and fofui also known as krachi dente Sacred drumming is r estricted from public participation and may be part of a secret cult or society whose particip ation is open to the initiates only. The two main examples of this kind of religious drumming are linked to koku and Yeve cults. Agordoh writes: In the southeastern part of the Volta region of Ghana, there are numerous religious groups, cults and secret societies whose music making is appreciated by the larger community. But actual participation in the music making is restricted to those who have received initiation (1994: 39). Although koku and Yeve are both secret cults among the Ewe their practices, doctrines and music organization specifically drum performances, are quite different. In this chapter I will describe and analyze Yeve drumming as performed in Ave Dakpa. In subsequent chapters I will describe the elements of dance and song that coexist with drumming to animate and give deep meaning to Yeve performance. Yeve Drum Performance While communal drumming and dance involves the entire community, Yeve drumming is restricted to the members only. The drumming as with the dance is organized around s pecific rituals and ceremonies such as funerals of Yeve initiates, annual thanksgivings, defilements, cleansings, purifications, graduation and other rituals 4 Hill (1980) and Friedson (2009) 5 Rosenthal (1999) and Allman and Parker (2002)
175 discussed in chapters three and four. In Ave Dakpa, almost all ritual performances are accompanied by intensive drumming. During my field research in Ave Dakpa I often activities of people in the northern Volta region. In Ave Dapoke, drum mers perform in the town almo st every day. D rumming generally starts in the morning and continues through the night or into the next day depending on the events and occasion s that it accompanies Sometimes, it may last for a few days or for the entire week. During ritual events, drumm ers commonly take short breaks for about one to two hours to eat and drink or go to their various homes to see families before returning to the event. Also, to release fatigue drummers take turns or switch positions on various instruments. For example, a l ead drummer may switch to a response drum while the bell player moves to the lead drum or the response drummer completely rests for another drummer to take over his instrument or position. Switching also allows the other drummers to experience multiple dru m rhythms and styles of playing. There are a few social celebrations during which the Yeve cult performs publicly to entertain themselves and the community in general. Like other social dance drumming groups in Ave Dakpa, the Yeve cult also observes and c elebrates special community wide occasions such as Christmas, Easter and fetatotro ( thanksgiving celebration feast for gods, spirits, and ancestors). Christmas and Easter are two main celebrations in every town across Ghana. In Ave Dakpa the two events call for community reunion through participatory dancing and drumming. Each dance drumming group in Ave Dakpa, including the Yeve group, is afforded a special day to perform when community participation is allowed and
176 encouraged At times t wo to four different drumming groups may be perform ing in different parts of the town. During these annual events drumming events continu e for the entire week and are divided in to two sections. The first section of drumming always starts ck in the morning with a procession across the town through its principal streets. Different groups select a street on which they sing songs and drum in a procession until they arrive at the cult house or another area designated for the second section of t heir performance. Agbayiza refers to this particular type of procession as gbedziyiyi 6 ( personal interview with Agbayiza August 14, 2006). Other names for the procession include dunyonyor or gbefadede (waking up the town or dawn broadcasting mostly abou t Jesus). I must emphasize that although Christmas and Easter ar e events in the Christian calendar in Ave Dakpa these two events are not celebrated by Christians and non Christians Throughout my interviews and conversations, most individuals in Ave Dakpa expressed the idea that Christmas and Easter celebration s were occasions where religious backgrounds and differences are set aside for the community to celebrate its values and renew the bonds that bind its citizens together Like Christmas and Easter, fetatotro is another event that is celebrated by the Yeve cult but this feast does not involve the entire community. Fetatotro may be considered as a thanksgiving ceremony for the gods, deities and spirit who are believed 6 Agbayiza explains gbedziyiyi on two levels; physical and spiritual. The physical is a regular processi on that takes place with singing and drumming as happen with other groups in Ave Dakpa during Easter and Christmas. The songs accompanying the drumming are common social songs known to almost everyone who participates in community dance drumming. On the sp iritual level priests, priestesses and selected morning where they sacrifice, consult, communicate with different deities, request supernatural counsel an d possible intervention. Group and personal request s are narrated by the hugbono (head priest) on behalf of everyone. The rest of the group members meet the elders at a designated spot and bring them to the shrine. This time the songs sung to accompany the drumming are in honor of various deities.
177 to safe guard and protect the cul t members throughout the year. Other religious and social groups may also decide to celebrate fetatotro however, in such cases those celebrations are unconnected to the Yeve celebration. The Yeve cult organizes this event to pray, sacrifice and makes new resolutions for the coming year. During this event, Yeve dance drumming is performed ; during only one specific piece will interested individuals from the community be allowed to participate by clapping and performing selected dances. Fetatotro normally tak es place near the end of the year preferably during the last week of December and into the first week of January in the New Year. Yeve dance drumming repertoires var y from one kpornu (shrine) to another depending on the degree of rituals involved in a pa rticular Yeve shrine and cult. For instance, some Yeve cults of the Ewe have five dance drumming types while others may have seven, nine, twelve, or sometimes thirteen. The Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa has seven dance drumming types performed as a suite of dance s 7 These are husago adavu aforvu sovu akor av levu and davu Th ese seven dance drumming genres are performance d in sequence during most Yeve ceremonies but the sequence can change during particular rituals or ceremonies. Drummers in the Yeve Cult A ccording to Nketia the success of musical event s depends to large extent on good musical leadership (1975: 56). Yeve d rummers like many other drummers, are musical leaders during social and religious community events. Their roles cannot be underestimated Drummers, in most African ethnic groups, are considered custodians of 7 drumming of the Yeve cult.
178 tradition based on their vast knowledge of social, historical and esoteric knowledge. It is often said that when a drummer dies, history is lost; and when history is lost there is no t radition. C onsidering this common saying in Ghana, Nketia very important person. Without him many of our traditional ceremonies woul d be dull 3). He continues that us with their drums. They can call us one by one. They can summon all of us to the are coming to attack us. They can greet us. 41). Amon g the Ewe drummers nor mally come from within Euba brothers and their children, all of whom usually live in the same compound, or at least in the same neighborhood. The drumming family may also include drummer s who are 89). In my own experience as a drummer in Ghana I have frequently been told: Ee! Devia, etso togbiwo do This literally means boy, you have met y this means that I (the boy) has musical knowledge and skills and can expertly play the drum just as my grandfather did It is very obvious that the majority of drummers inherit their drumming skills and knowledge or perhaps tr aining from their parents or another family member. Others may learn to become drummers because they play with musicians and develop the intere st and talent. Euba suggest s three criteria that must be satisfied for a person to belong to a drumming family. H the same compound or fairly close to one another (iii) they m ust usually perform together (1990: Yoruba dundun
179 drummers in southwester n Nigeria from my experiences this is applicable to the Ewe drummers as well The drummers in the Yeve cult throughout the Volta region and specifically in Ave Dakpa have this background. However, unlike other drummer s in the area Yeve drummers in Ave Dakpa go through a series of specific initiations prior to becoming legitimate and recognized drummers of the Yeve cult. I must emphasize that I cannot vouch for all other traditional religious drummers going through initiation of any sort before qualifyin g to play drum in their respective shrines or cults. But in the case of Ave Dakpa I know from several years of my research there that drummers in the Yeve cult are required to go through or be initiated before they are qualified to p erform The initiation process, as Agbayiza explains, is very important for acquiring the esoteric knowledge about all the rituals around which the drumming is organized (Personal conversation with Agbayiza, April 20, 2012). It is very important for the drummers in the Yeve cul t to know and understand the praise name s of all the deities and to be able to honor them appropriately. The acquisition of linguistic knowledge is of paramount importance for a drummers training. L et me give two examples fr om the scholarly literature abou t the importance of training among drummers in Ghana Nketia discusses three qualifications of drummers among the Dagomba society of northern Ghana Out of drummer must know the Dagomba oral literature of his people and the traditional history of the area, the chronicles of chiefs, and the by names and p raise names of each of 54). Lik e Nketia, Locke gives a testimony of his drumming lessons with his teac her Abubakari Luna while learning to play the luna (lead drum) of the Dagomba
180 drumming writes encourage me to learn the lead luna because I did not know how to speak Dagbani. As we will see, fo r Abubakari, the luna player is not a performer of crafted sound that is, a musician but a musical story teller, an historian, a keeper of the social register, and a philosopher (1990: 7). Initiation is seen as very important among the dundun drummers in southwestern Nigeria and other African derived religious musical cultures in the diaspora for the same reasons. 8 A cting as a drummer in the Yeve cult requires a vast amount of knowledge pertaining to deity names and characteristics, cult history, means of evocation, praise, trance and so on. As such, the drummers in the Yeve cult must go through a formalized initiation process to acquire the knowledge they will need. Yeve drummers are also considered the most accomplished drummers in Ave Dakpa. The vugb e (drum text ), rhythm and structure of Yeve drum performances are especially complex compared to other social drumming among the Ewe speaking countries. 9 In my personal experience as a drummer most of the drummers who inspired me from childhood until now have been Yeve drummers or drummers whose backgrounds are closely affiliated with Yeve cults. The respect for Yeve drummers can be understood in the fac t that while ordinary drummers are not allowed to drum during Yeve events, Yeve drummers in A ve Dapka ar e allowed take part in other types of drumming without question. 8 See Euba (1990), Falola and Genova (2006), Fleurant (1996) and Valez (1995) 9 Jones (1959) and Avorgbedor (1987)
181 Figure 5 1 A section of Yeve drummers in Ave Dakpa Figure 5 2 S ections of Yeve drummers in Ave Dakpa, Instruments of the Drum Ensemble M usical instruments use d in particular ceremo n ies are very important in African societies and particularly in Ghana among the Ewe people. There are several instruments that function within the context of particular festival s and ceremonies For
182 example, there are instr uments used when a baby is born and also during initiation and circumscisions. Other instruments are also used during royal processions and festival. Among the Ewe people there is no specific word that explains instruments in a broader context. However, each instrument has a particular n ame and use at approapriate events. For readers to understand the type of instruments generally used in events and ceremonies in the Volta region I will employ the Hornbostel classification system. 10 The Hornbostel Sach classification syst em involve s four basic categories of musical sound producers: idiophones, membranophones, chordophones and aerophones. Despite the use of instruments in all four categories among the Ewe people I will concentrate on the two categories that are most releva nt to this study : idiophones and membranophones The instruments of the Yeve drum ensemble can be categorized as idiophones and memberanophones. Idiophones are instruments that may produce sounds without the addition of stretched membrane s or vibrating strings. Basically idiophones produce sounds from the solid materials (often metal, wood, or vegetable) that comprise their own bodies for example, bells, rattles, jingles, and clappers Membranophones on the other hand, are instruments with parchment heads made from animal hides skins and other stretchable membrane materials M embranophone s are most commonly called drum s be it single or double headed and come in various shapes and sizes and are performed using various techniques involv ing sticks and/or hands The instruments involved in the Yeve cult performances are identical in size and shape to the Ewe agbadza instruments. The agbadza drum ensemble comprise s the 10 Sach (1940)
183 following instruments: gakogui or gatingo (double bell), toke (boat shap e d bell), axatse ( gourd rattle), akpe (clappers), kagan (first support drum), kpetsi, asivui or kidi (response drum) sogo or agbobli (lead/response drum) and atsimevu (main lead or master drum). Depending on the type of music being played, for instance in kinka, a gboba or gudugba (response barrel shape drum) is added. In the Yeve cult the same agbadza instrume nts are used with exception of two instruments : atsimevu and gboba Although Jones (1959) and Agordoh (1994) made generalizations in their writing d escribing the instruments of the Yeve cult involving the master drum atsimevu, it is actually uncommon for Yeve drumming to include the atsimevu This is true for Yeve drumming in Ave Dakpa. The instruments that constitute the drum ensemble in Ave Dakpa ar e gakogui kagan kpetsi and sogo or agbobli The details on the construction, size and measurements of these instruments can be found in Pantaleoni (1972) Jones (1959), Hartigan (1996) and Burns (2010). Figure 5 3 Gakogui
184 Gakogui The gakogui also know n as gatingo is an iron idiophone and provides an important rhythmic foundation in all Ewe drum ensembles and similar instruments are featured in many other drum ensembles across Western Africa and Central Africa. The gakogui is made of two iron bells that are welded together and provides the timeline upon which the drum music is established. As observed in most drum ensembles the gakogui plays a consistent and recurring pattern that regulates tempo and the individual patterns of other instruments in the e nsemble. Although the Yeve drum ensemble plays a variety of drumming types in different tempos, each dance drumming type has a unique gakogui pattern that governs and directs the ensemble. Describing the importance of the gakogui Pantaleoni ttern of the bell molds time like a relief map so that every moment stands in unique relat 72). Chernoff also mentions t which keeps things 43). Hence, the gakogui is ver y crucial in Yeve drumming. Figure 5 4. Axatse
185 Axatse The axatse is a calabash ( gourd ) idiophone covered with beaded netting. It is also called akaya Similar to the gakagui axatse sometimes plays th e timelin e pattern or reinforces the pattern of the g akogui In the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa there are numerous axatse players who perform a particular rhythm but have the ability to embellish some of the patterns to enrich the musical sounds of the ensemble Figure 5 5. Adodo Adodo Adodo is a special non m elodic musical instruments used among Yeve initiates. It is an idiophone, a double ended two constellation of small solid iron bells. It is used during all Yeve events and ceremonies to accompany songs and dance drumming. Unlike gakogui adodo does not kee p the timeline of dance drumming instead it is shaken to give metallic rattling sounds believed to attract Yeve deities and to respond quickly when they are invoked. In its construction, adodo has a small pointed metal at
186 both ends around which the sturdy iron bells circled that symbolize the deities of the Yeve cult. At one end, the pointed metal is sculpted in a double edged axe design representing the symbol of the thunder god, So while the other end is twisted or curl to symbolized the contraction and r etraction movements of the royal python, Da In performance, the sculpted part that represents So is pointed up since So is believed to operate in the sky and that of the Da points down because she lives and rules on earth. The Yeve cult members are the o nly religious group that uses adodo It can also serve as a signal when it is mounted on another iron rod and place in front of a house to alert visitors that Yeve priests is in that house. Adodo is played by holding the middle rod that connects the two cl uster bells and the player shakes it. It is best used to accompany songs in free rhythms especially in adavu dance drumming. Figure 5 6 Kagan
187 Kagan The kagan is the smallest drum in the group and functions as the first support drum in the Yeve ensembl e. It is also known as adzida It has the highest pitch among other drums and plays a consistent rhythmic pattern. Its pattern usually interlocks with the gakogui part and occasionally is permitted to vary its patterns. Similar to the rest of the drums in the ensemble, the kagan constructed out of wood. In the past the drums were constructed of wood slats bundled with light i ron metal rings (see Figure 5 7 ). Drum makers also construct the drum from one solid piece of wood as seen in kagan. A n animal skin most often an antelop hide is used to cover the drum and is tensioned with ropes and pegs that are driven at an angle into the drum frame Figure 5 7 K petsi
188 Kpetsi Kpetsi is the second support drum known that functions as a response d rum. It is also popularly known as kidi or asivui Like the kagan kpetsi also has a basic rhythmic pattern according to the specific drum piece being performed Unlike kagan it engages in a dialogue by responding to the call of the lead drum. It is one o f the difficult drums to master because during the dialogue the kpetsi player must be able to understand the prescribed drum text and be able to effectively respond to the lead drum without hesitation. In most dance drumming performances among the Ewes le ad drummers have their favorite kpetsi players with whom they can have an effective dialogue. In the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa two kpetsi (s) are used. They are tuned to low and high pitches that typically form an interval of a third or fourth. The two kpetsi perform di stinct drum patterns that together articulate the response to the lead drum. Also, the different pitches are used to enrich the sound texture and harmony of the entire ensemble. Figure 5 8 Sogo/agbobli
189 Sogo Also known as agbobli, sogo usuall y serves as the lead drum but can be used in a support ing role when an atsimevu drum is available. It is also called the agbobli The primary function is to lead and direct the entire dance drumming performance. It prescribes vugbe (drum texts) to e ngage the response drums in a conversation. The interactive engagement of the Ewe drum e nsemble is noted in Locke He explains that, to eac (1987: 7). The sogo fulfills many important roles in the ritual events including motivating movements among performers, directing dances, and perhaps most significantly, summoning the presence of ancestors and deities. In the course of the performance the azaguno (title for the sogo player) decides on the types of variations to play and the duration the performance depending on the participation of the performers. Explaining the role of the azaguno during a performance Locke says, the input into the flow of the performance and has the prerogative to extend or s horten a performance segment (1992: 116). Locke also notes that the success of a particular dance drumming depends on the azaguno and his relationship with the supporting ins truments. These important qualities are exactly what the Yeve drummers engage in during their performance. Locke writes: especially significant. First, his depth of musical understanding, creativity, and inner feeling should put everyone in the mood to dance. An event can go on despite weak singing, but if the drumming is shabby a performance can never be a success. Second, he should loosely align the sections in his improvisation with danc e. When people are up and ready to dance, it shows respect if the lead drummer acknowledges them with a new passage of improvisation (1992: 116).
190 The role of the sogo in the azaguno hands cannot be underestimated because without it the rituals cannot rea expression will not reflect and communicate to others. In such cases, an entire ceremony can lead to a disastrous end. Notation and Playing Techniques Many scholars writing on African music have devel oped various systems of notation to preserve and represent music of diverse cultures (see Agawu 2003). It is important to emphasize that it is impossible for a researcher to capture an entire Yeve performance with graphic notation There are various reason s for this including th e fact that play (see Anku 1999). Therefore it is only possible to transcribe certain elements of a dance drumming performance such as the foundational rhy thms that constitute a particular piece Locke identifies a key problem in notating African drumming when he writes picture, a means for patient study. This is precisely why audi o and video programs are available t explains a variety of contributions of scholars in trying to find common grounds to notate or standardize the best way to rhythmically describe African drummin g. In his description, he explains: The analyses of Jones and Waterman laid the groundwork for a comprehensive theory of drumming rhythm. African scholars such as Nketia, Euba, Sowada, Cudjoe, Gbeho, and Gadzekpo made significant contributions from the po int of view of culture bearers also versed in Western musical analysis. More recently Pantaleoni, Kubik, and Koetting have added valuable insights. But although West African drumming has been so relatively well studied, a coherent system of rhythmic princi ples which can account for the musical phenomena has yet to be developed.
191 Indeed, even the most basic concepts are s (1979: 299). Jones and Locke transcribe their drumming on the Western staff (five lines) making it accessible f or many and providing the possibility of identifying the various pitches produced on the drum and the drumming techniques employed (see Jones 1959 and Locke 1979; 1987; 1990; 1992). Other scholars of African drumming have also been interested in the questi on of appropriate ( Chernoff 1979; Pressing 1983; and Anku 1992, 1997, 2000 ) Locke's transcriptions in particular not only give clear analytical interpretations, but also could be used to practice and performed the rhythms using vocables and mnemonic sylla ble s as an orientation to the understanding of the various techniques and structures of the music. For my transcription of Yeve drumming I shifted from the TUB system (developed by Koetting) and the use of the common five line staff to just one or two l ines based on the range of instruments involved and the repertoire they perform. I do not personally think the TUB system provides clarity for people who want to learn to perform the Yeve patterns Also, based on the various tone s of the instruments trans crib ing onto the five line western staff make s the reading of the notes difficult. By using a single horizontal line I can transcribe each supporting instrument below, on or above the line as seen in the notation key s below. Each instrument has its own li ne and has indication of the tone by using the drum tone key. Figure 5 9 Gankogui and Axatse notation key
192 The gakogui (double iron bell) has both a high and low pitch. The lower note is notated below the line and the high notes above the line ( Figure 5 9 ) The axatse gourd rattle can also be transcribed using a single line staff but has a different technique when pa ti pa, axatse on the thigh, will be ti, when axatse hits the palm is notated above the line. Figure 5 10 Supporting drums notation key Kagan however, is played with two thin sticks at a rim shot and will be notated directly on the line. Kpetsi I and II have both open and mute d sounds. I no tate the open sounds above the line and the mute d sounds below the line. Sometimes kpetsi 1 has open sounds throughout. In that situation I transcribe it on the line just as kagan Sogo (lead drum) has the most tones or pitches so I use a staff with two ho rizontal lines for transcribing this instrument The sogo as shown in the notation key has many sounds but the ones represented on the keys below are the sounds most commonly produced when playing Yeve drumming and will be used for the purpose of this stud y. This does not mean that playing Yeve drumming is limited in its tonal variet y to the sounds that I have transcribed. T he tonal range of Yeve drumming is much more complex than what can be derived from playing other lead drums (see Locke 1979; 1981; 1987 ). I am using just a few of the tones or nonsense syllable that Kwami (1998)
193 drumming types in this work. A number of scholars on Southern Ewe drumming already discuss in gre at detail these techniques and their applications to drumming therefore I will not go in depth into this matter (see Jones 1959; Pantaleoni 1972; Kwame 1998; and Locke 1992). The strokes performed on the sogo represented by their associated standardized vo cables are as follows: g a / dza a bounce stroke in the center of the drum using the palm. This is the lowest note one can attain on the sogo d d e, ge, ze a bounce stroke in the center of the drum using sticks. Also, the syllables are open bounce strokes to the edge of the drum not the center as in ga/dza The sounds can also be attained using the stick and the hand in alternation. g g i or dzi a pressed stroke at the edge of the drum skin with the hands. This de T t o a bounc e stroke in the center of the drum with a stick while pressing the hide with the other hand. This is the relatively highest tone one can attain on the sogo Figure 5 11 Sogo lead drum notation key With this simple notation system I transcribe not the entire lead drum but only the calls or introductory phrases of the sogo and the essential recurring drum patterns that define particular rhythms In addition to the drum notation I insert the Ewe drum texts so that the reader can understand the deeper me aning of the drumming and its relation to the dance and the songs. I strongly believe that with this transcription individuals can easily play understand and even perform the rhythms by memorizing the position of the key given above.
194 Husago Drumming In Ye ve drumming across the Volta region husago is understood as a simple introductory drum piece performed slowly in 6/8 meter to begin all Yeve rituals and ceremonies. I ndividuals who are not well acquainted with the organizational structure of the drumming m ight easily conceive of it as in 2/4 or 4/4. This music was very problematic for Jones (1959) to understand. In his second volume, Jones transcribes husago in a 4/4 time signature from measures 9 to 19. In measure 20, he transcribes the gakogui axatse an d the handclapping in 12/8 [6/8] time signature. Jones repeated the same mistake for atsimevu and the response drum ( kidi ) which he transcribes in 4/4 and sometimes in 3/4, noting only the kagan pattern in 6/8. 11 This kind of mistake happens when a researc her focuses only on the drumming and neglects other performance aspects that constitute the entire performance. It is only when a researcher observes the dance of husago that he/she gets to understand the actual structure and the time signature for the dru mming. For one particular drum piece to be assigned multiple time signatures in one performance it is very problematic. Anku citing Koetting (1970) explains how sometimes researchers focus on a particular aspect or instrument but not considering the holist ic nature of the performance to better understand the drumming. He writes: To analyze the patterns of a drum ensemble piece individually is to miss the main characteristic of the music, which is the totality of sound produced by the interrelation of the va rious parts. This is particularly true in viewing the relation between the master drum and the rest of the ensemble.... What is needed is a comprehensive analysis that can encompass similarities and differences as components of the whole .... A deeper prob e of the music involving such detail as the precise beginnings of master drum patterns, possible verbal meanings in subgroup or 11 See Jones (1959: 45 75)
195 individual supporting patterns, and dance associations would have to be made before any trustwort hy conclusions could be reached (1997: 212). In some instances this confusion may be due to the presence of polyrhythms and cross rhythms in addition to irregular drum patterns creating staggered and interpolated phrases. However, it is important to note that each pattern adheres to a s trict time. Below is the transcription of how husago is organized in Ave Dakpa. Figure 5 12 Husago call and response patterns As shown in Figure 5 12 husago drumming starts with an introduction or a call from the lead drummer. The lead drummer calls the supporting instruments in the second half of measure 1 into the first half of measure 3. The supporting instruments respond in unison from the second half of measure 3 through to the first half of measure 5. The response is simply a rhythmic imitation of what the lead drummer plays. The lead drummer calls two times and the third call ends the entire introduction as seen starting from the second half of measure 5 and ending finally in measure 9. This introduction is very consistent in husago drumming. An yone who dances or is part of the Yeve cult
196 identifies this call the moment it is played and can tell you what drumming the drummers are about to perform. According to the lead drummer Tsale, this introduction is liturgically important because it ask s per mission from the deities associated with the Yeve cult to inform the members about the events that are about to take place and ask of their support and blessings throughout the performance. There is therefore a specific drum text or language associated wit medo ago, medo ago and the response instruments answer gbe neva gbe ne va The third call that ends the introduction is simply a reinforcement of the first two call s that goes this way: medo ago ago ago and the response instruments answer ame ne gede me. In translation, medo ago simply means, I am knocking or I am at the (your) door and the response instruments text, ame neva means the person should come in. Th is gesture is practiced as a regular daily phenomenon among Ewe people. Whenever a person approaches a house or at the door the first thing they do to alert those living in the house is to say ago Figure 5 13 Husago support patterns and drum texts
197 The immediate response from those living in the house is ame or ame ne gede me In the Yeve cult, this alert s the deities that drummers are calling upon them to seek their support and blessing s for the entire performance It is after this introduction that al l the instruments in the drum ensemble now join in with their res pective basic rhythmic patterns as seen in Figure 5 13 The gakogui and axatse rhythmic patterns in husago drumming do not change. The axatse reinforces the bell with the same rhythm. Likewi se, the kagan drum pattern basic drum text pattern that is standard to husago performance in Ave Dakpa. The drum text is miva and is repeated throughout the performance. Mi va is a type of call that invites people to come and watch or witness a particular thing or event going on. It is kagan pattern he says kagan la afa koe wodo na lelele literal ly meaning the kagan it is always yelling (personal conversation with Tsale, August 7, 2011). But in this context the role miva implying that the meaning come or come and see. Kpetsi also has drum text associated with its rhythm ic pattern. The two kpetsi perform the same text but one reinforces the other to emphasize the words. The basic drum text for the first kpetsi is, wo le ge meaning he/she will be caught or captur ed and the second kpetsi plays wo li meaning he/she is caught or captured. These two rhythms are performed alternatively in a call and response mode as demonstrated in the transcription.
198 The lead drum sogo also plays lots of rhythmic patterns to make t he performance exciting and inviting more people to dance. However, as stated earlier my purpose is not to transcribe the entire drumming events but to point out the basic or foundation patterns that identify a particular drum piece. As such, in husago dr umming the lead has a basic drum pattern that is the main and identifiable rhythm that characterizes the husago drumming. The drum text of that rhythmic pattern is, mi sa dzi or have heart or preserver, it is a matter of the heart or take it easy and Figure 5 14 Husago main drum text and recurring pattern Tsale, also explain ed the meaning of the drum text s that kagan kpetsi and sogo play in husago and how they signif y when the gods are abou t to appoint someone or recruit a person they are interested in becoming a member of the cult. This is how he explains it. The introductory call and response between the lead drum and other gods try to touch person even if it takes months or a year they will eventually get what they want and t hat person will become a Yeve cult member and go through the init iation processes. Hence, the call and response me do ago, ame ne va gede me, is an invitation and a call from The drum text, miva invites people to gather so that the gods can choose or their favorite candidate the two kpetsi drum texts, wo le ge wo li is a phrase that
199 interprets when someone is captured due to a possession by the gods and is taken into the shrine or the cult house for rituals and initiation. Then the lead drum sogo consoles and encourages the person in trance with the phrase, mi sa dzi This text means that the person in trance should take all ritual situation s easy and to heart because the initiation and the ritual processes take a long time. Thus the individual needs patience to go through all the activities and additionally need endurance to live with the cult until they die. In a performance, the lead drummer uses a simple technique in his drumming since he has limited drum vocabularies. He em ploys some techniques that can be described as masking, interpolation and staggering the rhythm so that he has much to play. As indicated on top of the main drum text of the sogo, misa dzi practically is divided in to A ( misa ) and B ( dzi ). Therefore the so go player can dwell on A section for a while and then move to B He uses the techniques mentioned to play with this simple pattern. An e xample of how he might manipulate the order of section s is as follows: A B, A B, B B, B B; B A, B A; A A, A A, A B, B A B. Figure 5 15 Formula for drumming Therefore this is how the drummer manipulates and crafts the drum text pattern into a meaningful conversation to make the drumming more interesting and meaningful to the participants With the A an d B formula, it is easy to synchronize the drum text misa dzi in to it. This is the background of the husago drumming in context as performed in Ave Dakpa.
200 Adavu Drumming Adavu is the most sophisticated drumming in the Yeve cult throughout southeastern Ewe territory. This is also true with the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. This is a special and spiritual type of drumming also performed to welcome other Yev e groups coming from out of town. Adavu is also the main drumming performed during agbowugbe ram sacrific e events for cleansing and also when a new member will be dedicated or take an oath to become accepted as a Yeve member. All Ewe drummers, be they Yeve or any social drummer s recognize the complexity in adavu drumming. Due to its multifaceted structure s ome describe it it as the fastest drumming s tyle. For instance, Jones describes adavu 1959: 98). In my opinion and from my own experience as a drummer this is not accurate as t here are other types of drumming suc h as gota and gahu 12 that are fast but simple and easy to understand their organizational structure. However, a drumming such as adavu is difficult to understand if an individual does not know the context in which the drumming is organized. The name adavu is derived from the manner in which the dance is performed. There is no exact English translation for this word However, the closest translation fury. When the Ewes say, edo ada this describes an intense emotional mood with a heightened concentration. At this state the individual does not smile, laugh, wink or get distracted with anything. The dance that accompanies the drumming explains the exact emotion for this drumming. For instance, it is during this dance 12 Gota and gahu are part of socio recreational dance drumming types among the Ewes of southeastern Ghana. For Gahu, see Locke (1987).
201 drumming where the husunu sometimes display their spiritual powers and when gods can possess anyone. So it is not a celebrated moment but rather a spiritually challenged moment that deserves and demands concentration. The drumming plays an essential role to propel and intensify the mood of the husunu and the other priests in the performance. The detail s of the dance are described in the next chapter. Adavu drumming is in two parts with a bridge or a transition into the second part. The first part is in 2/4 simple duple meter while the second part is in 6/8. In Ave Dakpa, the first part is also referred to as the introductory section. It is a long introduction compared to all other introductory passages but should not last more than thre e minutes. Structurally, the first part starts with two calls from the lead drum and the instruments respond in unison. Figure 5 16 Adavu slow supporting patterns The lead drummer introduces the third call however, this time the various instruments in the ensemble start to play their assigned basic rhythms (Figure 5 14) As the supporting drums perform their various patterns the lead drummer varies his single drum pattern employing techniques such as syncopating, staggering, interpolating,
202 masking a nd any technique that can make the drum pattern exciting and invigorating. Below is the transcription of basic drum pattern of the first section in adavu Figure 5 17 Adavu lead drum Introduction (slow section The bridge or transition into the second part (Figure 5 16) is a regular drumming stroke passage that the lead drummer introduces and everyone mimics. This transition establishes the speed or the tempo of the second part, however, the lead drummer determines the final tempo. The lead drummer sta rts his transition drum strokes with the tempo of the first section and gradually increases the tempo to the most complicated level where an unfamiliar ear describes the drumming at this point chaotic. Figure 5 18 Adavu transition pattern from slow to fast
203 The second section is sometimes confusi ng in its metric organization. There are lots of arguments as to what time signature shoul adavu be notated. I personally think it all depends on where it is performed. T meter could be notated as 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 9/8 or 12/8 depending on the recording For instance, he explained was from his teacher Agbeli who may perhaps have heard this music several times at a particular shrine. In my interview with Togbi Midawo Alorwoyie, he said that everyone performs the rhythm differently. H e used the phrase, edu sia du kple efe koklo kokoe conversation with Togbi Alorwoyie September 20, 2012). E ach Yeve shrine has its own s tyle for drumming or performing a common set of ritual s The style is likely to affect the time signature of the music or the drum language being played. Togbi Midawo Alorwoyie is right, for instance, the way Yeve drummers play at Nogokpo shrines is not th e same way a shrine in towns such as Anyako, Afiadenyigba, Dzelukope or Dzita will do it. That being said, the second part of adavu as performed in Ave Dakpa is in 3/4 time in the transcription below. Figure 5 19 Adavu fast lead drum pattern This is th e main drum pattern th at keeps recurring in adavu fast drumming in Ave Dakpa. Similar to the techniques employ for the lead drummer in husago The same can be use to perform adavu drumming. Each section has a repeated pattern that can be played several tim e s before mov ing to the next repeated phrase. A creative
204 drummer can also pull rhythmic fragments from different sections but must make sure that his playing stays in good harmony with the rest of the supporting instruments. Aforvu Drumming Aforvu is an i mportant and invigorating drumming style performed during Yeve ceremonies. It is by far the fastest drumming in the entire Yeve drum repertoire contrary to Jones (1959) claims that adavu is the fastest. The drumming derives its name from two words; Afor m vu meaning performance. Hence, Aforvu literally means a drum performance of the foot or feet. This is also pointed out in Locke He refers to aforvu 16). One of the primary functions of aforvu drumming is to be consistent and fast in tempo so that dancers have the ability to display their skills. The structure and foundational rhythmic patterns of aforvu drumming are not different from scholarly researches on Ewe social and funeral drumming called agbadz a The timeline is in 12/8 with a faster tempo than agbadza but almost the same as ageshe 13 a somehow faster version of agbadza During aforvu drumming the gakogui axatse and the kagan consistently maintain their respective rhythmic patterns. Unlike adavu where the two kpetsi play the same drum pattern, aforvu kpetsi drums perform different drum patterns in a call and response manner. The call and response is distinguished not only with the pattern being played but how the two drums are tuned, with low an d high pitches. In addition to the response drums basic question and answer patterns there are times the two drums together respond to sogo the lead drum. 13 See Burns (2005)
205 Figure 5 20 Aforvu supporting rhythmic patterns When sogo introduces new drum texts the response drums answer to make a meaningful conversation between the instruments, which then enhance and add energy to the drumming. The dialogue between kpetsi and sogo continues until the lead drum is back again to the basic. Then the two kpetsi also go back to t heir basic rhythms. Figure 5 20 presents the basic aforvu drum patterns. For aforvu drumming to be invigorating the lead drummer must execute his expertise to keep the drummers and dancers to a task. Considering the tempo of this drumming it is very impor tant to note that the moment the tempo slows down the entire performance will be ruin ed When supporting drummers loose interest and excitement they cause aforvu as a dance to eventually loose its aesthetics and not be pleasing to people. Thus, aforvu requ ires experience d drummers who are knowledgeable and able to keep the performance at a very high level of energy. It is no surprise that A forvu is one of the drumming pieces where drummers switch often. In aforvu the lead drummer starts the drumming withou t any introduction or call and response. The lead drummer starts his drumming by introducing his main rhythm,
206 which is quickly responded to by the supporting drums. In addition, the gakogui axatse and kagan patterns also immediately respond to the first d rum text of the sogo (Figure 5 21 ) Figure 5 21 Aforvu lead drum pattern The main drum text for aforvu that recurs over and over again is egbe miedo go or egba mie kpe vo meaning levels; physica l and spiritual. In the next chapter, description of the aforvu dance will allow us to understand these two dimensions. Nonetheless, I must emphasize that drum texts in aforvu are very significant in understanding a spiritual dimension of holistic Aforvu d ance drumming. It is important for us to understand the rhythm and then to apply it to the dance in the next chapter. Ako Drumming Ako drumming is a popular Yeve genre performed for relaxation and entertainment and is the only drumming that non members of the Yeve cult are allowed to participate in freely In Ave Dakpa, cult members sometimes invite audience members or bring interested people into the dancing arena and dance with them. The
207 drumming is the same as the popular agbadza 14 of the Ewe speaking peo ple. The structure has been discussed in the scholarly works of Locke (1979; 1981; 1992), Pantaleoni (1972), Jones (1959) and Agordoh (1994) among others. The fascinating aspect of this drumming is that although it has the same structure as agbadza the ma nner in which the drum is performed has a feel of atrikpui 15 a traditional dance drumming performed to prepare brave men and warriors before they depart for battle. Additionally, the tempo of ako drumming is moderate and not fast in comparison to aforvu Figure 5 22 Ako supporting rhythmic patterns In the transcription in Figure 5 22 the gakogui axatse and kagan maintain their unique patterns as seen in other drumming styles in the Yeve cult. The playing techniques are also the same. Like husago and a forvu the basic rhythm is in a call and response. As we can analyze from the transcription in measures 1 3 anytime kpetsi I is playing an open bounce strokes kpetsi II is playing a mute stroke and vice 14 See Amegago (2011) 15 see Amegago (2011)
208 versa. However, the moment the lead drummer introduces a new drum pattern the two lead drum goes back to his basic pattern and then the two response drums also start to play their respective basic call and respo nse patterns. Figure 5 23 Ako lead drum patterns As with all lead drums, the drummer has a basic drum patterns that every instrument in harmony clings to in the performance. T he transcription above (Figure 5 23 ) shows the relationship between the sogo (lead drum) and the gakogui. The lead
209 drum starts the drum performance by calling all the instruments from the last note of measure 1 through the first note in measure 3 where all instruments begin with their respective rhythmic patterns. The main drum pat tern of ako that Yeve members identify themselves with is transcribed in measure 4 with the repetition sign. The drum text to the rhythm in measure 4 is ke de me. It can also be said ie de me According to the phrase the main rhythm starts on the second beat starting with the sixteenth note. However, for the drummer to be with time he must start from the end of the phrase that is on the third beat. The note of the third beat is the same note transcribed on the first beat beginning with the gakogui patter The phrase ke de me or ie de me, is a common phrase normally heard among the Ewe people in two contexts. The first is when people, especially men, meet each other and they chant their ahano nko (drinking names) one person says this phrase ke de me (also koe de me ) or ie de me (also i de me ) and both give a really loud handshake and laugh. This often happens when people have not see n each other for a long time. Secondly, the same phrase plays an important role during dance drumming performances and it i s in this context that this phrase is being used. In this context the phrase serves as a command for the individual to start dancing. It calls that person to dance until he/she is tired. Also, ke de me or ie de me is not only asking a person to just start dancing, it requires a high amount of energy to be exerted into the dance. In a simplistic way it will mean, dance vigorously. Sometimes others get up from their sea t s and start dancing by themselves because the lead drummer has announce d that rhythm. Therefore the function of the drum rhythm in measure 4 cannot be underestimated in ako drumming.
210 Ako is one of a few drumming patterns that the lead drummer normally br ings to a formalized end ing In other drumming such as adavu the drumming does not end. The drummer randomly introduces aforvu In the transcription above the drummer introduces the transition into the end phrase in measure 5 and 6 then the end drum patter n itself comes in measures 7 9. Moreover, the drummer can decide to prolong at his own will the rhythm in measure 6 for a long time before playing the end pattern. The moment the drummer introduces this rhythm there is no doubt to see all the dancers leavi ng the dancing arena because they understand the rhythm and what will come thereafter. Hence, the rhythm in measure 6 becomes an important signal for both the drummers and the dancers in ako dance drumming. Sovu Drumming Sovu, also known as sohu is so far the most exciting drumming performed in all Yeve cult throughout southeastern Ewe territories including Ave Dakpa. It is performed as a rite of consecration. The drumming is also performed to honor the thunder god, S o or T ohono for protection for his chil dren (members of the cult). According to Locke sovu 2010: 10). The drumming is in 4/4 meter Like adavu there is still misunderstanding about the specific signature to be assigned for this drum music. Researchers who have listened to sovu drumming may argue that the drumming is in 2/4 and others say it is in 4/4. In my opinion, I think it depends on how an individual anal yzes the drumming. I have personally spoken with a few practitioners regarding this drumming including Togbi Midawo Alorwoyi and C. K Ladzekpo. Although they are both from different towns in the Volta region they confirm that the music is in 4 /4 meter Jon es (1959) also notated sohu drumming in 4/4. Here is
211 the confusing aspect of this drum music. When one listens to the gakogui pattern it is convincing to state that it is in 2/4 due to the recurring rhythmic phrase of the gakogui In some shrines, drummer s play the short gankogui pattern using the high and low pitches that make it sound as 2/4. For instance, the gakogui in some places plays the vocables or nonsense syllables ti ko ko which is two dotted eighth notes and a regular eighth note. The first dot ted eighth note is the down pitch of the gakogui and the rest are played on the higher pitch. Hearing this repeated pattern it is convincing to say it is in 2/4 time. Locke (2010) notated sohu that he learned from his instructor Godwin Agbeli in 2/4. This does not mean that Locke notated the music wrongly. It is we, the scholars who impose the time signatures on the musical types we encounter so that we can understand it and be able to talk about it. Nonetheless, it is important to analyze or relate the mus ic to how the dance is performed to have a broader understanding of the entire performance. The sovu performance in Ave Dakpa as stated earlier is in 4/4 because this explains how the dancers relate to the drumming. The next chapter explains the sovu dance Figure 5 24 Sovu supporting rhythmic patterns
212 In the above transcription (Figure 5 24 ) gakogui and axatse as usual are playing the same rhythm except that axatse reinforces the pattern with some extra notes to make it more exciting. Figure 5 25 Sovu lead drum pattern
213 The kagan is playing a simple pattern that is offbeat from the regular gakogui pattern. In Ave Dakpa, sometimes the kagan player is allowed to vary the pattern to create more excitement but does so carefully in relation to the ongoin g rhythms. The response drums, kpetsi I and II are also playing in a question and answer format but agree with each other in the second and the forth beat in each measure. The only difference in their playing technique is that while kpetsi I plays open str okes throughout, kpetsi II manipulates between open and mute strokes and plays more notes than kpetsi I. In the transcription above (Figure 5 25 ) the sovu lead drum starts with an introduction to establish the gakogui then bring all other instruments to jo in in the performance. According to Tsale, he has been playing this drumming style for a long time but never had the chance to ask his uncle about the meaning and context of the drum text. This is a situation he regretted and lamented on several days durin g our interview sessions. Paraphrasing Tsale, he did not ask because no one needs any detail on a drumming that seems easy, fun and exciting but others that are challenging and require esoteric knowledge make sense to inquire into. Sadly, Tsale missed this opportunity because his uncle passed away and there is no one who can explain the details of sovu drum text for him. The good thing is that he remembers the drum rhythms and plays them accordingly. However, I decided to still lay out the main and distinct basic and recurring drum patterns that constitute sovu drumming in Ave Dakpa although there is no drum text to understand the deeper meaning of it. I label the activities of the lead drummer in three letters A B and C (Figure 5 25 ) The A constitutes m easures 1 3 as the introduction or the call from the lead to bring all
214 instruments into the performance. The B section starts from the second beat of measure 4 through measure 12. Within the B section, there are two rhythms that the lead drummer plays. The first one is from the second beat of the B section to the first note in measure 7. In a performance, the drummer is free to repeat measures 4b 7a. He can also take a small fragment of that section or divide it into two separate parts within that section. However, the drum pattern that repeats m ost often in sovu performance is the one from measures 7b 12a, but particularly the one in measure 8 with the repletion sign. Finally, the drummer ends sovu with the rhythmic pattern in measures 13 15a. In my co nversation with Togbi Midawo Alorwoyie, he attested that sovu is one of the drum types of the Yeve cult that has its own patterns but there is room for improvisation due to the organization of the music. He also added that any Yeve drummer can play sovu at any Yeve shrine anytime because it is a fun drumming where other drummers experience new drum rhythms from each other (Personal conversation with Alorwoyie September 21, 2012). It is important to note that sovu and sometimes husago are the two main Yeve dance drumming types that have been choreographed for the stage and have become popular among professional and amateur dance companies especially in Accra, the capital of Ghana. In my own experience playing sovu, both in the dance companies and in my local areas, I have not encountered the wonderful supporting and response drums I learned in Ave Dakpa. Avlevu Drumming Avlevu is a type of Yeve drumming performed for comic relief. Togbi Alorwoyie describes avlevu Avlevu comes from two words thus avle and vu Avle is a name attached to a category of female Yeve initiates or members
215 called avlesi (see chapter 3 on avlesi ) who are allowed to wear sandals or shoes or and even dress as a m an. Vu as we have seen from previous chapters i s a drum and dance performance. So it is basically a dance drumming of the avle people in the Yeve cult. The drumming is in 6/8 meter and divided in two sections slow and fast. Like ako the first section of avlevu has the same rhythmic patterns for the gakogui and axatse Kagan however plays three notes instead of the usual two notes played in ako as we can see in the transcription below starting on the third beat of measure 1 3 (Figure 5 26 ) Also, unlike other response drums, for instance in husago or aforvu that play their basic rhythm patterns in a call and response manner, avlevu response drums all play the same rhythmic patterns. In addition to playing the same pattern the lead drummer in this drumming does not change his drum text to engage them in a further dialogue. They maintain their basic pattern throughout the entire slow section from the third beat of measures 1 3. See the transcription below: Figure 5 26 Avlevu supporting rhythmic patterns
216 Figure 5 27 Avlevu lead slow As always wit h the lead drum, the drummer announces the presence of the avle through an introductory call transcribed above in measure 1 to the first note in measure 6. Also, it is the beginning of measure 6 that all instruments join in the performance. During avlevu the role of the avlesi is to behave as a male looking for another female initiate to dance with. So the moment the lead drum announces this drum rhythm people start to run away because no one knows whom the avlesi may attack. So paying attention to the dr um texts attentively explains why audience or people who are not avle try to leave the dance scene or run away. In the transcription above the supporting drums the kpetsi I and II says woa wo de gamea su This literally means, where are they (the people) the time has come (no running away). The lead drum part says, nude m avle initiates are getting ready (or coming or about to start their show) everyone come and dance with the rhythm apart from this introduction and the rhythm from measure 6b 8a. In a
217 wonderful conversation the lead drum calls the people who have run away or leave the dance scene in measures 6b 7a and 7b 8a ( te va mi dui ; va mi dui ) then the kpetsi response drum will answer in with the first three open notes in the last beat of measure 1 and the first note of measure 2 that says woa wo de In performance the lead drummer can play between the te va mi dui and va mi dui while the kpetsi respond to each phrase. Figure 5 28 Avlevu fast supporting rhythmic patterns In the fast section the supporting instruments do not change except that the kagan now plays two open strokes instead of the three st rokes in the slow section. The tempo of the fast section starts slowly and gradually increases to reinforce the action of the women who are trying to dramatize an act of sexual intercourse.
218 Figure 5 29 Avlevu fast lead drum pattern and drum texts The r hythms that are repeated with varying degrees of tempo can be seen in the transcription above in measures 2 6 with the repetition sign (Figure 5 29 ) Also, the open stroke response of the kpetsi in the same measure 2 6. Finally measures 7 and 8 feature the drum pattern the lead drummer plays to separate the two people in the drama. The end ing drum pattern is not played strictly in time. It is introduced randomly at the liberty of the lead drummer. It is also important to emphasize that the length of avlevu drumming is determined by the lead drummer who decides to prolong the performance or shortened it.
219 Davu Drumming As the name implies, Davu is drumming associated with the veneration of the Da the royal python. The drumming is organized in two parts: (a) a search drumming and (b) a celebratory drumming. I labe l the transcriptions as davu I for the search drumming and davu II for the celebration drumming. Davu I i s performed any time a Yeve ceremony or event is organized. However, in context this drumming is performed only when the Da is out of her temple and does not return after several days. From oral history and indigenous knowledge translated into written reco rds deities are not only venerated but are also guardians who protect a particular town or community. They alert elders and priests of any possible mishaps and Dangbi (the royal python) a t Dahomey in Benin reveals that Dangbi goes in and out of her temple and is sometimes found on the road or resting under a tree. When people see Dangbi, they bring her home. This is true of the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. Sometime s Da leaves her temple and do es not return for days because she is perhaps upset. If this situation persists, the priest of the cult performs sacrifices and the search music is organized and performed to find the Da In the kagan pattern transcribed below, the kagan player uses only o ne stick and his fingers to perform the drum pattern. Therefore the note transcribed below, for the sake of this davu notes above the line are performed by pressing the fingers (or a finger) on the drum at the same tim e hitting it with the stick to give a high pitch tone (see the notation key).
220 Figure 5 30 Davu I supporting rhythmic patterns The gakogui and axatse play their usual identical patterns consistently. This time the kagan player performs just two notes ( o pen and mute strokes ) on his drum. This is a complete change of style for kagan in comparison to all other patterns performed in Yeve drumming. Figure 5 31 Davu I lead drum (the search) In Davu I, sogo does not serve as the lead drum, instead the two kpetsi drums are put together and played as the lead drum. The lead drummer plays the two kpetsi without sticks. Its role is to give signal s to the dancers. Any note in the middle of the two lines is an open tone. The notes transcribed on the second lin e above are for the right
221 hand and those on the bottom first lines are for the left hand. In the end phrase the last note beat (dotted quarter note) is an open bounce base note played in the center of both drum. The final tied dotted half notes are open st rokes of the two hands performed at the edge of the two drums. The second part of Davu dance drumming is to celebrate the success of the search by bringing the Da into her temple. It is performed j ust like the agbadza dance of the Ewe people but in a much faster tempo. The supporting drums keep their basic drum patterns until the lead drummer engages them in some kind of dialogue. Figure 5 32 Davu II support rhythmic patterns Unlike aforvu the drum text of the lead drummer has no spiritual significanc e. It presents social themes that create excitement and competition among dancers as part of the celebration of the Da The main and recurring drum text is in this section: Nto nto nto nto woli Nto nto nto woli Nto wolw da gboe Real, real, for sure it ha s been captured Real, for sure the Da has been captured Sure, the Da is coming home
222 T here is also a variation on these drum text that says: mi tugui deme This is simply a call from the lead drummer commanding dancers to exert more energy and dance vigorou sly. The drum text with both social and religious themes is therefore a significant text and language that the divine drummer prescribes to people who understand the language of the drum and interpret appropriately through dancing. Figure 5 33 Davu II lead drum patterns and drum texts
223 It is important to emphasize that drumming (as with dance) is an essential part and a backbone of the Yeve cult and its ceremonies. The drumming becomes a network through which communication between the living or ritual a uthorities and the gods as well as other spirits are achieved. The power of drum text cannot be underestimated in Yeve drumming. It is crucial and significant in evoking rituals practices embedded in the drumming performance. It is right to argue that ritu al s cannot be accomplished without the knowledge and the skills of the drummer. Drummers in the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa understand when and how to evoke the gods, which gods to evoke and how to manipulate them through the type of rhythms and drum texts perf ormed. As we will see in the next chapter dance is an integral factor that plays a significant role during Yeve ceremonies and effective means of communicating messages through movements gestures.
224 CHAPTER 6 YEVE DANCE FORMS AND GESTURES According to Ajay i d ance is a composite form of body attitude through which ordinary daily actions have been spatially re arranged and encoded to co nvey new sets of information (1998: 18). To a native African, dance is a dramatic, moving metaphor fo r life. Dancing creates satisfaction for the soul and without it survi val is meaningless. Snipe spiritual state of being that enables people to give meaning and context to their greatest joys, hopes, fr ustrations, fear or sorrows. This expression contribu tes to a sense of also contributes ay separate a rt, but part of 4). Many dances as practiced in traditional settings across the continent of Africa mark the various events of the life cycle such as birth, death, and marriage In addition to the life cycle events, mos t gathering s are accompanied with music and dance. There are also dances that are centered on religious, historical, political and other festive and ceremonial occasion s. Warren explains that here are some occasions when dance is optional, but on most o ccasions it is mandatory. Each dance has its own music, movements, and costumes, and most fundamental of all, each dance has a function and motivation that is understood by 2). D ance has often been neglected in the sch olarship of ethnomusicology undermining the understanding of the music and the culture in which it operates. This is culture is its mirror, we must turn to African art
225 Forward). This chapter highlights the importance of Ghanaian dance tradition s with a special focus on the Yeve cult dance forms performed in Ave Dakpa. Although there are differences in all the traditional Ghanaian dance forms due to the variety of ethnic backgrounds, these dances serve the same primary goal of promoting and upholding the values and norms of various traditio ns within the ethnic cultures. Traditional dance is performed as a communal activity and serves as a unifying force binding the entire community together. Every dance has its own origin and myths. Most dances have been passed down from one generation to an other. Investigating the origin of traditional determine because it is believed that ancestors have passed on the traditions from time ion w ith Sowah July 29, 2006). The dances, as with drumming, are organized in specific categories to achieve a particular purpose. Explaining the various categories of and the uses of traditional dance Adinku states: In order to distinguish the use of tradition al dance forms within the cultural context, discussion centers on three different areas, i.e. ritual, social and recreational. The ritual area links dance to the expression of cosmic principles and helps the medium in attunement; the social area dwells on the place of movements in expressing role differentiations as well as traditional norms, while recreational type is restricted to the ente rtainment needs of the users (1994: 16). The three aspects of traditional dances Adinku explains also have their occas ions and events for which they are organized. There is no traditional dance that is performed outside of a specific context. Kwakwa discusses the organization of African dance forms and the context of raditional African dan ces do not occur in isolation. They often have a specific role within an event or a
226 complex of events organized for specific occasions. Many have value as entertainment, but entertainment is not their most important function: dancers perform for socio cul tural, historical, polit 43). She continues to describe dancers and musicians as important assets to the community, countering accorde d them [dancers and drummers] reflect the role dance itself plays within a community. If dance functions primarily as entertainment, and participants are people whom a community considers inferior, dancers will get little or no recognition from the comm uni 49 50). Beside the social dances there are also ritual or religious dances that are performed to venerate the deities or are associated with particular ritual events or ceremonies. Within traditional religious shrines, cult dances are performed as a form of worship. Defining traditio nal religious dance Begho are relevant in the commemorative worship and invocation of the gods as well as the near god heroes and ancestors are here referred to as traditional religious (1996: 165). In the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa worship is embodied in rituals and dance performance. The dances are not open to the community but performed only by initiated members who understand the rituals around which the dances are organized. Begho descr ibes the elements of dances belonging to secret societies which is applicable to Yeve He writes: Cult dances are those dances performed only by the initiates of those secret societies that once utilized the more or less sacred arts of music, dance, and chants (or incantation) in the execution of their self appointed organization or government. These dances form an integral part of th e 166).
227 Befo re a major dance drumming event starts in Ave Dakpa the yevesiwo (initiates) take ritual calabashes and fetch water for the drummers to pour libation to the gods so that the gods may grant them the strength to be able to perform. Once granted the strength, the drummers can in voke the deities, which then bestow their spiritual anointing. During this time, the introductory dance drumming starts to alert and warm the members to get ready. By in voking the powers and the presence of the deities during this worsh ip, healing and possession sometimes take place depending on the respon se of the deities. Kwakwa a medium for characterizing and impersonating communal spirits, enabling them to converse with living p ersons. When the spirits come they may cure illnesses they or others have caused, and may join in merrymaking as people give thanks for bles sings 44). In religious performance, dance engenders communion with powerful and in tan gible force s and dancers move from one stage, the earthly/physical, to another, the spiritual/ethereal. Ajayi effective route for the journey bridging the liminal, and uniting the spiritual with th e 187). He also categorizes the study and structure of sacred and religious dance forms into three different stages: invocational, transcendental, and celebratory. The various stages of the Yeve cult dances at Ave Dakpa are applicable to Aja argument. They also share the characteristics identified in most religious dance ceremonies. He writes: Invocational dance takes place at the preliminary stage of the worship. It de votees in the appropriate worshipful mood, 2) divest their secular aspect to get them ready to enter communion with god, and 3) praise the gods for
228 conclude the ceremo ny to give thanks and praise (1996: 188). There are seven dances performed during Yeve ceremonies in Ave Dakpa. These are husago adavu aforvu akor sovu avlevu and davu dances. Husago invocational dance while adavu and aforvu may be categorized as transcendental and akor sovu and davu as celebratory dances. Avlevu can also be considered as a celebrati on dance due to the drama tic and comic aspects of its performance. To help readers understand the dances describe in this chapter with specific regards to time signature, tempo and the specific foot or steps I have transcribed the gankogui pattern to expl ain what foot is on a particular beat. I abbreviated the right foot as R.ft and the left foot as L.ft. Where the foot is used alternatively especially in adavu dance I represent it with the letter R or L. Figure 6 1. Structure of Yeve dance a rena
229 T heschematic diagram above (Figure 6 1) is a structural representations and organizations of dance drumming performances of the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa, In a typical Yeve ceremonies the drummers form the base around which dancers or Yeve initiates surround o r sometimes connect from both sides as shown in the diagram. The Yeve initiates sit on benches in a curvy formation on both sides. The spiritual leaders who are referred to in this diagram as elders sit behind the drummers .The elders sit behind the drumme rs with the purpose to monitor the activities of that are taking place and are also on watch for any physical and spiritual attacts during Yeve ceremonies. The dancers or Yeve initiates dance everywhere in the dance arena. It is important to note that the Yeve initiates However, they are free to dance in and out of the dance arena especially in Aforvu Husago Dance Object 6 1. Videos of the dance s covered in this Chapter can be found by clicking on this link, Many people have concluded, and in my own experience I agree, that husago is an introductory dance performed at the beginning of all Yeve events. Jones (1959), Fiagbedzi (1966), and Avorgbed or (1987) have studied some aspects of this husago dance music and refer to it as the introductory dance to several dance drumming pieces of the Yeve rituals. The name of this dance was adopt ed from the popular Ewe dance called misego There is still unres olved debate as to what name should be agreed on. However, the dance name has been somehow socially justified based on the events at which it is performed. When the dance is performed during traditional ritual ceremonies it is called husago In the Ewe tra ditional religious system hu refers to god and deity. Therefore it is probable that it is a dance performed for the gods/deities in the shrine or
230 cults. Anytime the dance is performed socially or during the migration annual festival called Hogbetsotso 1 it is referred to as misego Although the movements of misego and husago are the same it is the songs that performers sing that makes a distinction between the two. For instance, the songs perform ed during misego narrate the suffering and maltreatment experie nced in the town of Notse while the songs that accompany husago talk about the role of deit ies and give honor to them. Locke also discusses husago husago [drum] acco rded prestige among the Ewe people because they understand it to be the music that was performed by their ancestors on the night of their exodus from the walled city of Notsie an d the tyranny of King Agorkoli. In context of the Yeve worship, husago pays ho mage to the heroes of the Ewe migration to their current homeland describes the context of the dance as a funeral husago dance is a ritual dance for deceased members of the Yeve cult. Opoku borro wed the idea of bereavement 24). During my field research in Ave Dakpa, Agbayiza and some of the yevesiow (initiates) also referred to this dance sometimes as misego and other times as husago When I asked Agbayiza why they are n ot consistent with one name he told me that they use both names interchangeably and it does not matter how a particular person calls it. The most important thing is that they know how the drumming sounds and how to perform the dance. Despite the inconsiste ncies in the use of the name husago or misego I will (as I started using already in Chapter 5 ) refer to this dance throughout this chapter as husago 1 Se e Kodzo Vordoagu (1994), Amenumey (1989) and Kumassah (2009)
231 Besides an introductory dance husago is also an invocation dance performed by high ranking priests and pr iestesses referred to as minawo midawo hugbono and hunowo Husago is performed to invoke the presence of the gods and to set the mood for the entire Yeve ceremony as stated in Ajayi above. The Yeve ceremonies may start early in the morning or afternoon depending on the type of rite under performance. For instance, during graduation ceremonies of the members the dance may start in the late afternnon throughout the night into the following day. If it is a funeral the dance starts early morning until the de ceased is buried. In Ave Dakpa deaceased are normally buried late afternoon and not in the morning unless there is an urgent need. Burial in the late afternoon does not apply to the Yeve cult alone but the entire Ave Dakpa town. There are inconsistencies w ith regards to the overall organizations and mode of Yeve performances. As the dance drumming starts selected priests and priestesses perform prayers, sacrifices and sprinkle ritual herbs that are believed to pave the way and a symbol of readiness to recei ve the gods. In all performances including husago the dancers get their starting cues from the lead drummer ( azaguno ). 2 Husago dance may start and end anywhere in the dancing arena (Figure 6 1) The dance is performed with two to three people dancing tog ether. It is unusual to see one person dancing alone unless the person wants to express specific gestures. Husago dance is not a gender based dance as seen in avlevu both male and female initiates participate in the dance performance. This can be seen in the accompany DVD under Husago dance starting in 00mins:09seconds. 2 The cue prescribed by the drummer for dancers to start their main movement is discussed into details in the previous chapter.
232 Structurally, the dance starts with adasasa a preparat ory movement. This preparatory movement is not a required or standard movement compulsory for every dancer. Instead, it is any kind o f movement that the dancer gently executes based on his/her internalization of the drumming and how he/she intends to start the principal movements of the husago dance. The preparatory movement however, is not perform ed randomly but must be on time with th e drumming After the dancers have begun performing their preparatory movement and before the dancers begin the principal movements the azaguno gives a signal that is known to everyone as a cue to start The principal movements involve the use of the fee t and the torso. The upper movement s articulating the beat and reinforcing the timeline of the drumming. release falls on the strong b eat which is indicated as R.ft on the first beat in the the second measure and the contraction on the weak beat in the second half of the first, second and third measures in the transcription below (Figure 6 2) The torso contraction and release can be c learly seen in the accompanying DVD under husago dance (03mins: 40sec). The contraction and release of the torso is accompanied by the arms and the shoulders blades as seen in agbadza Explaining the agbadza movement Amegago explains that, agbadza style is characterized by the position of the hands by the sides of the body (at waist), the contraction and release of the upper torso along with the expansion of th e shoulder 102). This is exactly what happens in husago dance. Secondly, the use of the feet is very important. It is in fact the movement of the feet that differentiates husago from agbadza In husago the accurate position is to bend
233 by stepping each foot alternatively on the strong beats. In addition to the bent knee the dancer twists his/her heel inwardly as if it is about to touch the other foot. This is done and repeated in alternation. In chapter 5 the strong beat of husago drumming is notated a s the first beat note in measure 2 and 3 of the gakogui in the supporting rhyth mic patterns labeled R.ft. It is also on this beat note that the torso of the dancer is released and the inward twist of the heel (both right and left in alternation) applies. Figure 6 2. Husago In Ave Dakpa the women perform husago dance as described above. The men do the same except that they do not twist their heels. They perform the dance purely as agbadza and lift their foot (feet) upwards and downwards along with their hand movements downward and back to place. The characteristic feature of this husago Dakpa, the husunuwo cult m embers sometimes perform the dance in the forward backward movements or just perform it moving forward and r eturning back into their seats. Adavu Dance Adavu is one of the principal dances of the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa an d one of the most serious of all th e dances. It is considered the most powerful and spiritual dance of the Yeve cult, and is performed mostly by the midawo and husunuwo (priests).
234 The rest of the yevesiwo (initiates) sing and make simple dance movements to accompany their singing. Their sin ging is done to enhance the dance of the midawo and husunuwo Adavu is where dancers experience the forces and presence of the gods that can be manifested through trance, healing or a medium may receive message from the gods and delivered t o the members. A vorgbedor describes adavu dance 5). It is important to clarify the notion of dance in adavu performance. The dance, adavu does not necessarily conform to the Ewe s customary understandin g of dancing. For example, when an Ewe person or native is dancing he/she first considers t he excitement of the drumming and how well the drumming is organiz ed to inspire him/her to dance. The Ewe native also thinks of what exciting gestures to execute in o rder to convey some kind of messages for people to understand. And finally, he/she dances with the drum music i n time. In adavu dance, however, all these characteristics are not required. What constitute the dance are the intense twirling movements with di splay of ritual and mystical objects accompanied with highly energetic singing evoking the gods. T he dance may seem unattractive and unorganized in the typical Ewe aesthetics. The adavu dance is chapter two on the DVD that accompanies the dissertation Dur ing adavu dance, the introduction drumming as transcribed in chapter 5 is the music that normally brings the midawo and husunowo into the dancing arena. This is a processional dance that involved spiritually heightened songs and simple swaying movements as the priest s walk from the cult house into the dance arena (watch DVD Adavu procession 05min 25sec 07min 10sec) The moment the drumming starts, the yevesiwo (rest of the initiates, mostly females) announce to the public that the spiritual
235 men are on thei r way into the ritual space, the dance arena. The announcement is done through yodeling. Immediately, those who are not Yeve members or are not spiritually strong normally leave the scene. The dance is performed in a circle where the initiates demonstrate their involvement with a great degree of energy. As this music is highly ritualized the audience is also requested to bare their chests and even not wear scarves on their heads. The moment the midawo and the husunuwo arrive in the dance space the drummer adavu more sophisticated drumming to match up with the spirit and emotion of the priests. In the course of the procession, the midawo and husunuwo often carry spiritually dangerous objec ts and amulets as they chant, invoke and per form miracles. Avorgbedor examines the elements of this part of adavu moment during which magico spiritual objects are brought out, and sometimes miracu lous feats may be per 12). In an interview Togbi Alorwoyie describes the state of the priest as he dances adavu as, ezu gbogbo menya, enumake dzesi dede wo no dodom priests This intensive nature of the dance explains why the dance i s called dance of fury. Locke explains i 14). Illuminating some of the elements and activities that occur during this spirituall y heightened dance Nketia [dancers] therefore perform the dance in a state of ecstasy. All those present prostrate themselves and shout ho ho ho or clap their hands to hai l th
236 (1975: 221). The adavu danc second category of sacred dance surrendered himself or herself to be taken o ver by the spirit of The expected and inevitable response is heightened memorie s of the deity 189). The dance can be conceived as a free form of movements performed with or without considering necessarily the drum music provided. The performers i n the cult become pugnacious and very wild due to the presence of supernatural spirits, which also create s aggravated noise among them. The adavu dance in this instance becomes chaotic because neither the song nor the dance goes with the drumming. The init iates get possessed due to the preferred rhythms of the deities being played and how they are hailed through singing. To the insider this becomes the exciting and spiritual moment of the dance, but it may be confusing to the outsider. The dance is performe d with the feet dragged on the ground forward and back. Some dancers also execute whirling movements; others dance from side to side in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The husunuwo perform the adavu dance by stomping the feet that rhythmica lly imitate the stroke s of the gankogui pattern as notated below (Figure 6 3) I must emphasize that during adavu dance performance the priests or the priestesses can start with any of their foot either right or left especially those who try to imitate the gankogui pattern. As I indicate there are some people who may use the foot specified on top of the notated gankogui pattern while others use the foot indicated
237 Figure 6 3. Adavu The female initiates dance by swinging their arms with their hands opened, expressing their sentiments to the deities. Avorgbedor describes the general importance of the adavu dance performance without a specific reference to a particular town in the adavu dance assumes a form of running in a semi dancing in a circle. While the running does not necessarily synchronize with the background rhythmic precision, arm and torso movements normally a ccent the i 14). adavu dance because those qualities and characteristics are also visible in adavu performance at Ave Dakpa (watch DVD under adavu dance 14mins 55sec 16mins). The dancers someti mes stop and sing in place with great emotion and continue from that point until the drummers introduce a different dance to be performed. Some performers also heighten the dance by motivating other dancers through exclamations with their hands at their mo uths. The adavu dance is very important to establish a relationship between the cosmic and the living. The significance of what takes place in the a davu dance is what Adinku explains as follows: The significance of [adavu] dance as ritual activity, one not es that the dance has been based in portraying various laws and principles believed to be found within cosmic nature. The medium and adherents of the various ritual traditions assume that should they successfully portray these cosmic principles in their da nces, it would be easy for them to establish contact with cosmic host whose characteristics have been thought to relate to these principles. Attunement with the cosmic laws is, therefore,
238 the desire of all ritual dancers who believe that through such attun ement they come to live in ha rmony with the cosmic forces (1994: 17). The dance is performed in a circle where the initiates demonstrate their involvement with a great degree of energy. As this music is highly ritualized the audience is also requested to b are their chests and even not wear scarves on their heads. During adavu dance the Yeve object ( vodu ) is brought out (see adavu procession on the DVD) As part of the rituals, everyone present during this performance must honor this sacred object. Most ofte n, it is announced that the Yeve object ( vodu ) will be out so anyone who will not comply with the rules by taking off his/her shirt and scarf should disappear from the arena before the gods intervene. If someone disobeys this regulation the husunu tortures the person with his spiritual gun, tukpi The sickness given through the tukpi can stay with the person forever and can cause untimely death. Adavu member dies this performance is held to let loose the spirit of the deceased from the Yeve cult to enable him to join his ancestors. As part of the ritual dance performance and a custom of the Yeve cult, a fowl is tied with a rope and dragged inside and outside the dance arena amidst the dan ce drumming with speed. The fowl is then placed inside a small hut made out of thatch at the side of the dance arena or sometimes inside the cult house. The fowl is burnt to death by one of the priests ( midawo ) mentioning the signifies that the spirit of the deceased has been cast out from the earth to its destination or spiritual home. While the fowl keeps burning the initiates dance running in a circle around the hut as a sign of mourning. At the same
239 time the hugbono request s forgiveness for the deceased in case the deceased offended someone in life or even violated any of the laws of the deities in the cult. The DVD has two recording of adavu The first section is a procession with the Yeve deity and the second section is t he dance in a circle Aforvu Dance Aforvu, also known as afortoe, is the fastest of all the dances performed during Yeve e vents. As described in Chapter five Aforvu derives its name from the phrase afor fe vu In Anlo Ewe, afor vu literally means a dance designed for the feet or a performance that involves manipulations of the feet. Agbayiza explained to me that aforvu and adavu dances, although they are not the same, both engage with deities and spi rits of some sort. This is because aforvu follows adavu directly and the spirits that have been in voked during adavu still work I chapter title 15). When aforvu starts the existing spirits ride the initiates through fast and energetic dancing until they cool down or the spirits go away. In Ave Dakpa the idea that the spirits are riding the initiates facilitates t he stylish use and manipulation of the feet, hence, aforvu Ajayi including habits, emotional dispositions and the social mores he or she symbolizes, are danced out and the distinctive physical features of the deity are manifested in the able to see visions or perform extraordinary feats usually des 189 190). This can be clearly seen in the accompanying video in aforvu dance.
240 Aforvu dance is performed using every space in the dance arena (Figure 6 1) commonly dancing a long distance across the entire dance arena and back to the original place. The dancer performs the dance to any distance as long as he/she can hear the drum. Thus the expression etsoe de afornu meaning dancers keep revolving round the entire dance arena or sometimes moving within the arena from one point to the other. As in husago the dancer is not required (although he can) to do adasasa before beginning the main dance. Yeve members start dancing depending on the drum rhythm or drum text inspire them. In aforvu a Yeve initiate is free to dance solo, as a duet, or with a group of people. The fast tempo of the drumming helps dancers express themselves with different gestures. This is the only dance in the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa that uses long and el aborate steps to travel. The aforvu dance drumming is chapter three on the DVD. In aforvu performance the dancer normally pays attention to two important features: the use of the feet and the torso. The ability to manipulate the feet and the consistency o f the torso contraction and release when march ing at a quick pace makes aforvu dance unique and placing the strong beat on the first beat note of the gakogui rhythmic pattern (watch aforvu dance DVD 22mins 05sec 23min 15 sec). Analytically in the full gakogui pattern there are two kicks of the foot, right and left. For instance, in a four beat cycle the right foot kick is on the first beat which is the right foot with the indication R.ft and the left foot kick is be on the third beat which is the eighth note labeled L.ft. as seen below (Figure 6 4).
241 Figure 6 4. Aforvu The torso together with the shoulder blades also moves according to the beat and pulse in the contraction and release motion as discussed in husago dance. During an individual display, a dancer can dwell on one foot while expressing his/her own gestures before changing to the othe r foot. This is how Locke describes the use of the feet and the arms of aforvu : a kicking gesture prior to shifting of weight from one foot to the other that often scuffs up a small cloud of sand. The torso and arms execute a contraction expansion motion that can be regarded as being icon ic of Ewe 16). The drum text that accompanies aforvu dance is very significant in understanding the spiritual aspects of the dance. I must emphasize here that the drum texts of the lead drum help intensify the ritual activities embodied in the dancing of the husunu Within a forvu dance, the husunu dances and engages in two different cosmos; physical and spiritual. Physically, the husunu displays his competency as an energetic beautiful dancer and his masculinity as the man in control of the dancing space. His dance is physica lly and aesthetically pleasing to the audience. However, the skills are transcended into a spiritual space or realm where he engages with specific rituals such as gbesa (different forms of incantations) and tukpidada (literally, firing a spiritual gun). Understanding what happens in the physical and the spiritual realm of the husunu texts that ignite the link between the husunu and the spi rits or deities. T he main dru m
242 text th at cause this to happen is, egbe mie do go; egbe mie kpe vor Today we have fi nally met (see Chapter 5 for transcription). In Ewe, this is a threatening statement that is not commonly heard among people. The day an individual tel ls someone this statement it means that one of the two people has targeted the other for something that has happened between them in the past and that one person is interested in fighting the other. The statement initiates a time for revenge where one pers on survives the fight or both will be injured. Translating this concept and interpretation of the drum text into aforvu dance, it is evident that the husunu engages in a spiritual warfare and competition where various intensities of incantations are chante d and performed. Here, the physical dance performance can be explained in three skillful techniques: (a) dancing around the dance arena, (b) stomping in place and (c) end ing the dance. The three techniques symbolize and interpret what the husunu e ngages with spiritually. First, the husunu dances around the dance arena he secretly recites or chants the gbesa Gbesa is empowered by the speed, energy and the skillful play of the divine lead drummer supported by the rest of the ensembles. The faster an d invigorating or solid the drumming, the more dance movements the husunu executes and the more gbesa he recites or chants. Symbolically, this is when the husunu is on a journey into the spiritual realm to interact with deities or engage in spiritually act ivities. Movement symbolism is a significant feature in aforvu and h as been addressed in Buck She says, beyond ourselves to the transcendent. By adding gesture to language, word symbols are given an intensity of meaning which can becom
243 13). It is important to note that the activities of the husunu both the stylish movements and the gbesa may not be able to achieve their spiritual objectives if not the essential role of the lead drummer. Secondly, when the husunu stops at one place stomping with vigor the indication is that he is facing a tough spiritual battle and in a competition with a more powerful spirit that needs serious concentration This is the time a more advance form of gbesa comes into play to enable him to accomplish the combat. As he stops at one place the lead drummer understand the moment or situation and reinforces his action with the drum text to help him achieve h is purpose. The husunu then dances tirelessly and stomp until he is convinced to have a accomplished his objectives. Thirdly, as the husunu is about to finish his dance, he spins around several times. The spinning is a signal that he is about to fire or re lease the tukpi (a kind of spiritual gun). The shooting happens when he stops spinning and kicks his foot (as if he were kicking a ball). For the husunu to be successful at performing these rituals, it is the knowledge empowered by the drum text to intensify the mood and move him from the physical realm into the spiritual drum texts uplifts and transcends the husun u into a completely different spiritual being and this is seen in the way he dances. Ako Dance Ako is a popularly known dance in Ave Dakpa because it sounds similar to agbadza It is a dance performed in the Yeve cult for entertainment and for relaxation It community members) are allowed join in and dance at their own will. The dance, as with
244 the drumming, is in 12/8 meter. In a conversation with Tsale, he says that there i s no difference between agbadza and ako to him personally. If there will be any difference at all it is the fact that ako is performed in the Yeve cult with songs that focus on the deities while agbadza is more social and involves the entire community with songs that focus on human relations and other topical issues. Several scholars have researched and written on Ewe social and funeral musical forms especially the dance drumming styles that employ the Ewe standard drum patterns as seen in agbadza dance dru mming (see Jones 1959; Ladzekpo 1971; Pantaleoni 1972 and Amegago 2011). According to Agbayiza, the men perform ako to show off their skills and energy. It is performed in the cult to socialize and release tension. In the performance the dancers most ofte n sit on long benches arranged in a circular form and dance from every angle of the dance arena and end anywhere. As an important component of the dance, the women sit in a circle, clap their hands and sing along with the drumming to inspire those dancing in the circle. Ako dance has three distinct elements that are critically observed. These elements are present in agbadza dance as important norms observed in Ewe dancing. These are: 1) adasasa, 2) yedudu/dzime and 3) yetsotso In the first section, the adasasa is a preparatory movement used to usher in the main part of the dance. During this time the dancer(s) alerts the azaguno with his/her choice of movement as an indication of readiness. The adasasa movements are not fixed or structured, but are free as an externalization and projection of sentiments of the Particularly in ako dance, adasasa requires shifting the hip from one side to the other on
245 either the flat foot or on t he balls with the heels up. A dancer displaying these techniques shows mastery of the dance. Sometimes the dancers bend down and swing their arms from one direction to the other according to the tempo of the music with knees bouncing as they play the beat of the drumming. After the adasasa dancers go into the main dance section known as yedudu Some of the members in the cult prefer to call it dzime 3 because they believe a good dancer performing ako should have the ability to use his/her torso in a contrac tion and release manner while employing the arms. This also implies that the dancer is using the right techniques with full commitment in what he or she is dancing. As the main section h intensity and quickness in the torso. The azaguno is always responsible for the yedudu section of the dance. The important rhythm for this section is what is transcribed in measure 4 of the lead ako drum in chapter five with the drum text ke de me (also referred as koe de me ) or ie de me (also i de me ). When the lead drummer announces this drum text he signals dancers who are standing waiting for this rhythm to start the dance now. In context, the drummer is commanding the dancers to get down to it. The y must dance vigorously and use appropriate gestures to express their sentiments and skills. When this drum text is introduced it sometimes feels as if dancers are competing with each other. Members dance and sweat until they are tired before some of them will take their seat. Structurally this dance is performed just like the agbadza dance of the Ewe. In one cycle of the gankogui pattern there are four conceptualized beats. In performing 3 It is the section where dancers put their emot ions, energy, and perform the dance with vigor.
246 ako the dancer steps twice on each foot before using the other foot. For example two right foots (R.ft) as beat 1and 2 and two left foots (L.ft) as beat 3 and 4 (also get a better clarity by watching the DVD on Ako dance). The strong beat of the ako which is the right foot, is the first note (the down beat bell) with the indication R.ft in the transcription below. I did not put the second right foot in the transcription because it falls within the second note. However, when you divide the quarter note into two it is easy to see where the second right foot lands. The same i s repeated for the left foot Therefore the transcription below explains the basic foot works or steps of the ako dance as performed in the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa. It is also important to note that some people still add extra footwork to display their ski lls. But what every one does is the double steps of each foot in alternation. Figure 6 5. Ako The final section of the dance is a repetition of the first section but with variations called yetsotso Yetsotso in Anlo this section end. At this point, the dancer does not need a signal from the lead drummer to help her end the dance. Instead, he/she calculates the beats in his mind and g ently ends the dance. The end is mostly on a beat sometimes accompanied with one or two gestures. The gestures often involve dropping of arms with the hands pointing to the ground symbolizing acknowledgment of mother earth.
247 Sovu Dance Sovu is a beautiful dance performed to honor the thunder god, so The dance is performed also for spiritual consecration or during any Yeve events. The dance is very simple and the drumming is so exciting that it has become one of the dances adapted for the proscenium stage and popularized by amateur and professional dance companies in Accra. Of course, in the theatricalized versions other movements that are not from sovu have been added to make it artistically pleasing and enjoyable to diverse non Yeve audiences The dance, as with the drumming is in 4/4 meter in a moderate tempo. The sovu dance is the only dance that many songs associated with it. Structurally, the dance begins with a movement leading into a semi circle or sometimes a complete circle depending on the number of dancers available. There are times in Ave Dakpa the dance is not performed in semi circle so the idea of circle is not consist ent but relevant. The dance is performed in counterclockwise direction with the right foot leading, accompanied with the typic al Ewe torso contraction and release technique discussed in the previous dances. Below is the basic footstep with the right foot (R.ft) leading (watch the DVD on Sovu dance drumming) Figure 6 6. Sovu In a four beat cycle, the right foot is on the strong b eat that is the first note of the gankogui labeled R.ft above Therefore the foot of the dancer alternates as if he/she is marching right left alternation. To reinforce the strong beat in the drumming the dancer
248 pushes his/her leading right foot (R.ft) fo rward and articulates it with a slight drop of the right shoulder all together on the beat. Since most husunu are initiated into the god of thunder they tend to dominate the sovu dance performance although everybody performs. The significance of performin g sovu in a counter understanding of themselves in the cosmos. It is believed that human beings are born and may toil, struggle, move from one place to another for job, family and many other things So as the dance is performed in the circle it reminds them of who and what they are here for and ask the thunder god, so to bless and protect them throughout their endeavors. Avle Dance Avle dance is a type of dance drama performance for comic relief. I t is an important dance that creates laughter among the members in the cult. In context, the dance is primarily performed to test the emotional state and seriousness of the husunuwo and midawo priests. The dance is also performed to honor avleketi, 4 a god who is part of the total being of the god of thunder. The dance drama is known as avlewowo meaning performing or dramatizing avle Avle dance is only performed by avlesi and no other person is expected to perform it. Avlesi is a category of female initiat e who has some privileges and freedom to do certain things or behave in a particular way. For instance, avlesi has the right to wear pants, shirts, shoes, sandals, tie, hat, cap and sunglasses without restrictions or offence. However, no member can wear th ese items in the cult house. This is an 4 See Kumassah (2009)
249 example of the privileges avlesi has in the cult house (see cha pter 3 for full description of A vle). Depending on the occasion, avle dance may be performed in the public. However, the dance drama is less serious sinc e audience are not part of the cult and do not understand the reasons for performing a dance like avle dance. Although the dance is full of fun and is very short, it is also performed during the funeral of the avlesi despite its context. In this case, the context of the dance is flirtatious in character, but performed to remember the deceased during her life as a member and also as a farewell to her ancestral home. The avlevu ( avlewowo ) is danced in patterns of two and contains two different sections. Alth ough it is only the female initiates who perform this dance, one female performs the role of a man and the other as a woman. Sometimes, the avlesi can go to the extent of dancing with a male initiate but this is uncommon. Agbayiza notes that during the ri tual performances in the Yeve cult, the avlesi who change their roles to perform the male part of the dance dress themselves in hats, spectacles, and shoes. One major characteristic he also describes is how the avlesi artfully creates a wooden penis ( ava ) with a rope on each side tied on her waist (Agbayiza, August 2, 2006). I have personally seen this dance performed in my hometown many times. The DVD has the avle performance from the slow to the fast style. As mentioned above, a vlevu performance is in t wo sections: slow and fast. In the slow section the avlesi gets up from her sitting place and starts to dance alone The dance that is heavily accompanied with gestures signifies that she is looking for a man or a partner to dramatize avle with. She uses t his slow drumming to make a selection
250 and a personality she is interested in. The action of the avlesi looking for a partner to dance with is explained in the kpetsi support drum in avlevu (see chapter five on avlevu ). The lead drum announces that the time has come for avlewowo The drum text states : The sentence means, avle initiates are getting ready (coming or about to start their show) everyone (members) come and dance with introduces this drum text the support drum responds by saying woa wo de ga mea su weave the conversation together The response drum reinforces and a ffirms the search of partner. For instance, in this section avlesi can make gestures pointing to her private parts, having hands on her waist or buttocks or placing her hand by her ear if someone will call her. When she finds her appropriate partn er she takes her into the middle of the dance arena for avlewowo to begin. The dancers relate to one another in a responsive manner by both moving their bodies towards each other and in opposite directions. The two participants perform the dance by looking face aggressively or excitingly depending on their choice of movements. They also use their arms around one another as they move or swing their partners from one direction to another to give meaning to the audience. Meaning of movement is very important in avlevu performance. Adinku explains meaning in dance this way: Meaning in the dance also becomes apparent by examining the interaction of dancers and their response to each These interactions may be found in duets, group performances or even in solo dancing when the performer relates to onlookers and musicians. In the duet, one dancer would communicate an idea and the partner would respond with different sets of movements. The dramatic interact ion through movements is important to bring out the intended meaning and feeling (1994: 19)
251 The avle dance starts in a moderate tempo to allow the participants to express their actions. As seen in the transcription below (figure 6 ps relates to what I described in ako dance as the double step of each foot in alternation. This transcription is in 6/8 because the double steps of each foot complement reinforce the s move forward with their gestures until they get closer to each other before they get into the faster tempo where the climax of their drama or action is revealed. Figure 6 7. Avle The second section, which is the fast or the dramatic part, is introduced in the lead drum pattern, which changes gradually from slow to fast. This helps to intensify the action and the drummer mimics the action of the dancers in his drumming. The change introduced by the lead drummer also serves as a cue to the dancers to perf orm their drama. The azaguno controls the entire performance based on how exciting the participants actively interact with one another. The azaguno can also decide to create confusion and distort the movement by increasing the tempo at random to the extent that the dancers will not be able to relate and articulate their dance movements and cannot convey the message of their drama in relation to the beat. At the point when the energy level is very high and exhausting the azaguno again plays a phrase, which i s known to all the members to end the section.
252 The drum text for the fast section is te de dzi The moment this rhythm starts the two participants cling to themselves up in a form of hug with torso contact moving their heads alone from one direction to the other. In this part there are two places of concentration: direct eye contact, which signifies admiration from whoever dominates the dance, and the movement of the waist and hips, which incorporates the sexual act. The core of the dance drama is that avle with her partner simulate copulation until the drumm ing stops. Avorgbedor describes this second section as avlewowo and writes: The total movement pattern, which assumes a gradual acceleration in tempo, is a simulatio n of an erotic act with the aid of a stick which is manipulated as a phallus. As the music speeds up gradually in a expectation gains momentum accordingly. The simulation culminates in a chaotic climax during which the Awlesi concludes through a vigorous and quick simulat ion of the act of copulation (1987: 11 12). When the drummer realizes that the action is getting out of control he ends the dance by playing the drum text phrase blewu blewu blewu meaning calm down, slow down or avlewowo the avlevu dance can be performed in a free style where dancers can naturally express their sentiments within the context of the dance. Davu Dance This is one of th e most important dances performed in the Yeve cult. Da refers to a snake or the snake god cult into which some of the members are initiated. Female initiates, whose names begin with Da for example, Dashi, Dangoe, Daenyeametor, and Danyehu, are legitimate participants in the davu performance. During davu members sometimes get possessed and lay on the ground. They emulate the snake by stretching and coiling as part of the possession. The chief priest sprinkles purified water on the
253 possessed member(s) togeth er with some chanting to enable her to gain consciousness. In the course of this, the possessed member becomes grimy due to the sprinkled water and is later taken into the sacred room for further rituals after which she changes her clothes into new ones. D uring possession the deities sometimes give messages through the medium to the entire group. The state of possession entered by the devotees renders immunity to pain (only achieved by those whose commitment to a deity has been maintain ed over many years). It takes many hours for the medium to gain consciousness because she becomes very stiff and until the spirit imbued in her accomplishes his responsibility she will not gain consciousness, which may also lead to her sickness. Agbayiza did not allow some of the devout members who easily get possessed to be part of this performance. He explains that it takes sometimes a week for them to recuperate and he will not cause them that torture. The dance most often takes place under the cult tree in the cult house an d moves in a circle in a steady gait. The beat of the drummers then picks up slightly, provoking the dancers into changing their body movements. A good photograph of this dance and various costumes is illustrated in Dagan (1997:196 201). As stated in C hapt er 5 there are two sections of davu dance: (a) a search dance and (b) a celebratory dance. The search dance is performed when Da is missing or out of her temple and has not return for days. In certain areas of the Volta region when people are missing ther e are brave search men also known as asafo who go with their instruments on a search to find the missing person. This is the same in the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa.
254 I t is very important to note that the significance of the search dance is the manner in which t he Da is searched through the dance and how various instrument in the ensemble contribute sonically to facilitate the search and the capturing of the Da Specific instruments such as gakogui and axatse play an important role in the search of the Da. This i s not because they play consistent rhythmic patterns but because of the materials out of which the instruments are made and the sound that comes from them. For example: Gakogui is the loudest instrument and can be heard against many drums. This is also tru e of axatse with its buzzy and loud sound. It is believed in the Yeve cult and also from various studies that snakes are very sensitive to vibration and can be easily stressed with loud sounds. Hence, the loud and buzzing sounds of the gakogui and axatse a re to make the Da uncomfortable and cause her to quickly expose herself to be brought into her temple. Kagan on the other hand, performs two consistent tones low and high alternatively. The rhythm and the alternated sounds of the kagan imitate the steps of the dancers in the ritual search process. Yeve members imitate these steps so that their feet do not syncopate with the rhythm and the sound provided. If the sounds and the steps are together then it becomes unified in achieving the same goal. In the se arch performance, dancers move sideways in a counter clockwise direction facing in the circle with their hands open a gesture depicting a symbol of searching. The lead drum in the search dance performs only one task besides the complimentary rhythms that it plays. Its primary function is to give signal when the Da is found so that she can be captured. The moment the rhythmic phrase is introduced, dancers interpret it by turning their hands down on the last beat note meaning that they have captured the Da That same phrase also serves as the end phrase of the dance
255 per formance as explained in the previous chapter Refer to the DVD to get a better understanding of how Davu I is performed and the cues from the drummers. The transcription below is similar descr iptively in the manner at which sovu dance is performed except that the time signature is different. In this performance the four count cycle. Although it seem very e asy and simple it is difficult for lot of people to keep time in performing this first search dance. Figure 6 8. Davu I In Davu II, the dance is organized to celebrate the return of the Da into her temple. The dance performance uses the same techniques i nvolved in ako The rhythms are the same except for the lead drum pattern however, the use of the torso and the feet remain the same. The drum text of the lead drum pattern transcribed in chapter five is also listed below. As we can see from the translatio n it is merely a celebration where everyone dances and has fun. to to to to wo li to to to woli to wole da gboe Real, real, for sure it has been captured Real, for sure the Da has been captured Re al! They brought the snake home
256 Figure 6 9. Davu II Besides the drum texts written above there is an important phrase that is crucial in davu II dance performance. The phrase reads mi tugui deme This is an expression most Ewes use in different contexts such as washing, cooking, wrestling and danci ng among others. However, in this context it is dance related. During this dance performance the lead drummer performs the drum text that orders dancers to exert more energy and dance vigorously. As soon as the variation, mi tugui deme is introduced, the a ttitudes of dancers change from normal dancing to a more competitive dancing with lots of expressions and skill. The DVD for davu dance II gives a clear understanding of how the dance drumming is performed Dance Gestures In most traditional African dances the use of body to communicate is an essential part of the dance. The bodily gestures communicate messages of love, joy, humor, pain, and sadness among other things. Scholars agree on the significance of African dance as a multi channel model for communica tion (Nketia 1975; Kariamu 1996; Adinku 1994; Ajayi 1998; Blum 1974; Warren 1972). Ajayi concepts are externalized through 22). As such the body is used as a communicative tool to convey message s to the public. Nicholls also
257 and movement to convey information, and as such, is (1996: 47). Dances are used to give meaning and are significant to every important occasion in the life cycle of human beings. Occasions in human life cycles where dance plays an important role include funerals, marriages, and naming ceremonies among others. Dance in a ritual context can act as a healer during curative rituals, involving the diagnosis and treatment of the physically and mentally ill people; it also conveys messages through the devotees to the members. The dancers in the Yeve cult perform dance movemen ts, which the non members find very complicated to understand. The philosophical understanding of traditional Ghanaian music dance performance in a circle is that it symbolizes togetherness and unity. This holds true in relation to the Yeve dance as well. Traditional religion is very tightly connected to the dance. The repetitive nature of most traditional dance along with the symbolism of the understanding of themselves in the circle is primordial because it represents the image of the infinite structure of the family express the perceived stability of its environment 66). Ajayi also notes that, manifestations. It is a useful tool for both God and man. The secular and cultural dimensions of the body only serve to establish, confirm and enhance the circular (as opposed to the linear) relationship between the 186). In relation to this argument, Warren describes the body and position of an African dancer as a tool or instrument f or expression of emotions. She writes:
258 The response of the body to expression of love, joy, grief, and despair all to the accompaniment of music, songs, and drumming is the heritage of the African. To see an African dance is to witness his cultural pas t and present. Africans use their bodies to reflect their emotions, their hopes and their religion: The head moves in one rhythm, the shoulders in another, the arms in still a third, the feet in still another. Their dance is a text motion, link to the musi 1972: ii). During the entire Yeve dance performance the devotees dance with a variety of gestures to convey messages to the audience. Some of these gestures are described below: 5. Placing two hands on the torso while dancing. This is an important gesture in the Yeve cult especially in ako dance performance. This gesture is mostly associated with male dancers. Women do not often use it. The gesture symbolizes being on his chest it means with my strength I can achieve and excel i n everything. 6. Raising the hand skywards with head facing up. This gesture is expressed individually and not in duet or group dancing. It works mostly in solo dancing. This is the point where initiates express their joy and grief to their deities. The mea and solutions. This is very common in Yeve dance. 7. Two fingers up for a dancer or drummer. Raising of fingers seems to be popular in most Ewe dances, perhaps Ghanaian dances in general. The fingers that are used are the index and the middle fingers of the right arm and not the left arm. It is the same gesture made in the United States to expres possible to use the selected finger of both arms and raise them up pointing to is not a gesture that is done to a dancer or drummer to give him som e sort of pride but instead encourages him to do more of what he/she is doing. In the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa this is an important gesture. Sometimes in my opinion observing how the dancers and drummers perform it feels to me as if they are competing for th is gesture, although they are not. However, it is a desire for every individual performing to have the hugbonoga acknowledges him/her by raising those two fingers. Before a person is recognized with this action, the hugbono goes to invite the individual da ncer and dance with him/her. In the process of dancing he raises the fingers and does it again after the dance. This may sound very common to some people who have experienced this gesture in social dance drumming. However, in the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa it is an
259 important gesture and high form of acknowledging the skills of the drummer or dancer. In the same manner, placing money on the forehead and dropping cloth around a in hand. They can be see n in social and recreational dance drumming events. In the Yeve cult money is not used, instead the thumb is placed on the forehead The person who receives the thumb on his/her forehead is the one who has the dance vocabularies coupled with skillful gestu res that express and glorify or reference something in connection to the event. Both male and female initiates can receive the thumb on their forehead. In the same manner, cloths are also placed around the neck of skillful drummers and dancers. For instanc e, a drummer may play an appellation involving the praise name of the deity of a ahano nko (drinking name). The two appellations performed make the dancer go crazy with his dancing an acknowledgments. 8. Placing both hands on the head. This signal is normally seen during funeral can be exp lained in different ways. Sometimes the burden is loosing a good friend or a loved one. Other times it is the unfairness and uncertainties of life, a damage of property, or a need for help. 9. Holding the drum before and after dancing. This is a common pheno menon among the husunuwo in the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa. It is also done in some areas of the Volta region during other social occasions. The significance of holding the drum is to acknowledge the drummer and request them to play for the dancer a good music Sometimes drummers identify particular drum rhythms of some individuals, which are played for them during this section. Thus holding the drum is also a request from the dancer. After the dance the same gesture is repeated to thank the drummer. 10. Finger in the ear and another pointing to the eye. This gesture is another unique
260 used in a husago da nce. The dancer uses that gesture when there are rumors and people do not get to understand the details of the issue. 11. Dancing facing or in front of the drummers. This generally also falls in the category of appreciation, but in the Yeve cult, Agbayiza tol d me that it turns out to be a competition between the dancer(s) and the drummer to elevate and recuperate their energy. This also enhances the whole ensemble by enlivening the other drummers and dancers. During social performances outside the cult house t he lead singer may chant with the words Hododui oh! And the group will respond Hoo! 12. Displaying with awlaya while dancing. In general dancers express themselves depending on how exciting the drumming is. Most often the husunu in the cult displays his danci ng skills by holding part of his awlaya (costume) as he dances. Holding the awlaya implies having authority over the dance being performed. On the other hand, it is also a means of showing off wealth by having lots of expensive cloths in various layers dis played in the dance. 13. Yetsotso. This is the third episode in the Agbadza dance that brings the dancer to the end of the dance. At the very last movement, the dancer does the adasasa and drops his/her hands to the floor. This acknowledges the mother earth th at she is the stronghold and support and that she is given honor. These gestures as non verbal communications between the members of the Yeve cult are very important tool of communication. Some of the gestures communicate or are understood by non members because they are also similar and performed in social dance drumming. However, non members are always careful with their interpretations of Yeve cult gestures because their interpretation can be misleading. We have to take in to account that this is a secr et society and despite the fact that the gestures may be similar, the interpretation and the connotations of the gestures may be includes gaze, eye contact, and facial expressions and is most commonly found in many times and unfortunately misinterpreted Despites this, I still argue that their
261 meanings in the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa are beyond the social meaning attached to it by the public. It is important that we undertand the meaning in the context in which it is demonstrated. Songs that accompany th e dance drumming also facilitate the effective performance of traditional religious dance forms. The songs represent a significant role and importance of Yeve songs are d iscussed in Chapter 7 to help readers understand the context in which the songs are composed.
262 CHAPTER 7 YEVE RELIGIOUS SONGS, MEANINGS AND TRANSCRIPTIONS As with dance and drumming, songs are an essential aspect of African, Ghanaian and in particular, th their sentiments. 1 The singing of songs motivates both dancers and other instrumentalists. Many s cholars including Agordoh (1994; 2005), Ampene (2005) and Nketia (1974) among others have agreed that songs and singing are important factors that boost morale and prolong successful dance drumming events in Africa Nketia (1974) points out that there are different types of traditional songs performed throughout life such as cradle songs recreational songs, reflective songs, historical songs, war songs, dirges (funeral songs) and general songs. Songs are also the foundation on which other types of songs are composed and are very vital in all human societies in general. Traditional songs are very philosophical and powerful weapons used in transforming and educating the society at large. It is very important to emphasize that sometimes it is more powerful and effective to advi s e people through songs rather than using any other method. This is because the language, melody and voice texture used in singing the song s are frequently thought affect a This is reaffi rmed in the work of Tracy through his observation of song performances in different African societies. He explains, spiritual 237). The knowledge found in traditional songs is transmitted from one generation to the other. The lyrics reinforce societal norms and 1 See Chernoff (1979), Fiagbedzi (1996) and Amegago (2011)
263 serve as a guide to leading good life. Nketia transmitted orally, associated with traditional mores and customs, and practiced by the communities or in environments w hich preserve traditional modes of life, irrespective of considerations In a religious context, songs are an important component of the veneration of gods, deities, divinities, and other ancestral spirits. O ne of the most important attributes of African gods is that they are music loving gods who typically manifest themselves during ritual performance s containing music that they like But African gods are also believed to show displeasure with singing and music that t hey do not like. Agordoh says that the drama of worship. Acting through these bodies, they are known to object to the singing of particular songs or to show displeasure when a performance is lacking in animation 39). The songs associated with the worship of the gods in the Yeve cult may be organized by a textual or stylistic basis. An individual or an entire chorus may sing these songs. The songs may embody the beliefs of the cult, which may further express the relationship between members and deities. Generally, the Yeve songs, like most other religious songs in Africa are primarily sung in praise of the gods, which is central to the entire worship. These song s can reference interpersonal relationships or make allusion to the historical circumstances of the community where divinities pl ay major roles. Fiagbedzi interesting theme in s ong texts. It is found represented in various forms:
264 admonishments for good living, the need for circumspection, meekness rather than violence or 77). During the section of the worship when the gods send down their spirit s, the Yeve songs serve as a means of stimulating and convening the deities to action and keeping them in a condition of ecstasy until their missions are fulfilled. Possession also occurs during this section of the worship. To maintain this religious state Agordoh call up songs of her particular liking in order that she might have the strength to act as required of her. The excitement of certain phrases of worship is prolon ged for as long as the instruments remain sounding and 42). Song Texts According to Merriam human behavior in connecti 187). He further are integral part of music and there is clear cut evidence that the language used in connection with music differs from 187) S imilar to Merriam, Nketia discusses song texts, the elements they typically involve and their relationship with the human being or community. He writes: The themes of song tend to center around events and matters of common interest and concern to membe rs of a community or social groups within it. They may deal with everyday life or with the traditions, beliefs, and customs of the society. This is true not only of serious songs associated with ceremonies and rites, but even of simple tunes, like cradle s ongs sung to children who may not have mastered their mother tongue enough to apprecia 189). In the Yeve cult song texts are very powerful, and include many coded words and messages that are most often beyond ordinary lit eral interpretations and any one
265 understanding. Amegago also explains that he bedrock of 111). 2 This is to say that language use in these types of songs is not used on a day to day basis. Yeve song texts ar e full of allusion and hidden meanings that are sometimes impossible to translate or be understood by an outsider. For example, the Yeve cult has its own cult language or dialect (see Akuetey 1998/9) that is spoken and understood only by the yevesiwo (init iates). Some of their song text are in the cult language Yevegbe and go beyond the understanding of non members. In the case of Ave Dakpa, initiates sing in the Avegbe, Ewegbe and Yevegbe. Although the Yeve cult has a large song repertory there are five p rincipal themes around which the songs are organized. These are : 1. Focus on the deities/gods, spirits, ancestors, and other divinities associated with the cult. 2. Expression of the inherent qualities of the gods and ancestors. For example, their destructive nature and their positive impact on both cult members and non members. 3. Education and warnings for non member(s) ( ahevi ) about what he/she can and cannot not do against the yevesiwo 4. Maintenance of Law and Order. Although it is only the yevesi who can sing the cult songs, the content, context and meaning of the song texts are beneficial to the entire public for the maintenance of law and order, For example, the subject matter of some of the songs feature threats and the consequences of stealing, murder, and cruelty across the Eweland. 5. Ultimate demise of human beings. The song texts very often remind the yevesiwo about the kind of suffering they will encounter and prediction s of what might cause their death, sometimes revealed du ring the oath taking ceremony. Song Organization Several scholars on African music, especially Fiagbedzi (1966; 2009), Nketia (1974), Agawu (1988; 1995), Dor (2001; 2004), Avorgbedor (1985; 1994; 2001a) have 2 See also Agawu (1995; 2003) Avorgbedor (2005) Lawrence (2005) and Gorlin (2000)
266 discussed the structural organization, characteristic elements and performance of traditional songs in African societies especially in Ghana but more particularly focusing on the Ewe song [musical] performances. Some of the features that characterize these songs involve call response, cantor chorus, interjections, harmony, types of scales and the general form of songs. Unlike other dance drumming groups, the Yeve cult performs songs in both free rhythm and strict rhythms. In the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa and in other Yeve cults these elements are also present in Yeve songs performance. Below I will discuss some of the most important aspects of musical organization in Ewe singing. Call and Response This is an important feature of traditional song performance and is very predominant in drumming as well. The concept of call and response is sometimes confused with cantor chorus in the ethnomusicology discourse. One way to distinguish between the two is that call and response occurs when a leader calls with a phrase and the other people (choir) respond to it with an alternate phrase. Let me g ive an example here: A call: Kale nutsu me tsina gbe o then response: megbona go doo response normally completes the musical sentence unlike in cantor chorus. That is why some people instead refer to this technique normally higher in pitch than the response. Cantor Chorus Cantor chorus is when the cantor or lead singer sings a particular song from the beginning to the end and the chorus repeats the entire song with the same words as sung by the cantor. For instance, koklotsu le gli la dzi then the chorus says koklotsu le
267 gli la dzi cantor chorus and call response is clear. Interjection In social dance drumming such as kpanlogo 3 and bobobo the technique of vocal interjection is very common. In this technique, when a person is leading a song or specifically introducing a song, another person can easily inte rject by taking over the song before the entire call ends. The person who interjects does not inform the previous person leading the song. It is not an offence but rather a technique employed in their song performance. With regards to this technique, any o ne who knows the song very well or who has a good voice and direction to finish the call of the song is free to use the technique of interjection Harmony Singing in different parts is a completely different technique in traditional Ewe music when compare d to the western concept of harmony The use of harmony in Ewe traditional songs is common across many repertoires It can occur in a work song for communal labor or in war songs preparing the brave for battle. Generally, individuals or a group of people s ing in unison and then some naturally move up or down with an interval of a third, fourth or fifth depending on the range and what they want to emphasize. Therefore the harmony is not imposed on the singers; it is their own spontaneous creation. Sometimes one may not hear it at all and other times there are a few notes that are harmonized. In the Yeve cult there are a lot of those what I refer to as natural harmonies that come about rather spontaneously It is difficult to ask a singer to 3 Kpanlogo is a social and recreational dance drumming of the Ga people in Accra
268 repeat something w hen he/she was being spontaneous. But the evidence is that there are lots of simple harmonies that enrich the Yeve cult song performances as you will see in some of the transcriptions. Scales There are two main scales the Ewes of the southeastern corner of Ghana normally use when they sing traditional songs. These are pentatonic or hexatonic scales. 4 Pentatonic scales involve five notes ranging C D E G A (C) and hexatonic scales includes six notes ranging C D E F G A (C). This, however, does not mean that t raditional songs that are arranged for choirs in the church maintain these scales. For church, composers normally impose a European derived diatonic scale on those traditional songs so that they can harmonize it in a western harmonic style. However, this d epends on each particular composer with some who leave the songs the way they are so that they feel more traditional. I will point out the scale use in all the transcriptions. All these characteristics do not strictly apply to the Yeve cult however; my arg ument is that they are very prevalent. The totality of these characteristics makes Yeve song performance fascinating, energetic and invigorating. Consequences of Singing Yeve Cult Songs As stated, the Yeve cult is a religious institution limited to a parti cular group of people who have gone through a series of intensive initiation activities to become members. Most of their activities and performances are reserved for the initiates alone. As stated earlier, most of the rules or restrictions against the Yeve cult are common 4 See Younge (2011) Dor (2001) and Fiagbedzi (2009)
269 knowledge amongst the Ewe people. Therefore, if a person goes against their rules it is perceived as disrespect and the offending person must bear the consequence s It is taken as common sense in the community that ahevi or non members are forbidden to sing Yeve songs. For ahevi to sing Yeve songs is considered a mockery, especially when the person realizes that there is a Yeve member around. Even parents whose children are initiated into the cult have no right to sing any of these songs ei ther by themselves or privately with their children. For example, if an ahevi intentionally or accidentally sings Yeve songs in an open or hidden place and an initiate hears the song she will quickly react. The reaction is unique and rare among the Ewe. It is a complex organized scream w hile the hand hit s the lips continuously. This unusual screaming, according to the Yeve customs and norms, alerts the unauthorized singer that an initiate has heard him/her. It is a type of screaming that is rare to hear amo ng people. Anytime it is heard everyone knows that there is something dangerous happening or someone is in a critical condition and needs help. The unauthorized singing of Yeve song s is also believed to spiritually inflict pain and discomfort on an initia t e The implication is that the singer by virtue of singing an unauthorized song defiles the Yeve initiate. This can lead to the mechanism of redress called alagadzedze which is discussed thoroughly in chapter four. The two common expressions used when an initiate is defiled are: ekpor ahe me ne and wo de amea gbe The two phrases mean the same thing in context but are literally different in meaning The first phrase ekpor ahe me ne this instance the a hevi is described as that person who has seen the nakedness of the initiate by singing this song. To elaborate on this point further, the ahevi is said to
270 spiritual li fe ; singing her song is likened to undressing her. The second phrase, wo de amea gbe This situation explains what normally happen to the initiate after their defilement. Since those who sung the cult song undress ed her, she runs into the forest where she uses leaves and branches of trees to make a dress as explained in chapter four. Yeve Songs and Analysis The characteristics of the Ewe singing discussed above may var y depending on the occasion, be it a funeral, initiation, or other rites. However, they constitute the common features of the song tradition in the Yeve cult. I will now discuss and analyze some of the songs and their meaning as studied in the Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa. In the analysis, the songs as su indicates songs sung in the standard Ewe. This way a person who can read Ewe can understand the songs and their content. The English translation is written below and labeled English. It is also importan t to note that repeated phrases or sentences of some the songs may be have multiple interpretations and emphas e s Various meaning s are explained briefly to help the reader have a better understanding of the contexts Figure 7 1. Gamado
271 A Gamea do mado mad o Gamea do hee Gbogblame husiwo mado dahee Gamado yina tsyo do ge Gamado mado da hee, gamado Gamado mado da hee Gamado yina tsyo do ge A1 Gamea la do me la do, me la do Ga mea la do hee Gbogblame husiwoe mado da hee Ga me la do wo yina atsyo do ge Ga me la do, me la do da hee, ga me la do Ga me la do, me la do da hee Ga me la do wo yina atsyo do ge English It is time, it is time, it is time The time has come Gbogblame husiwo are very ready It is time, they are dressing up It i s time; the time has come It is now, the time is now They are dressing up for the occasion This song is performed to accompany ako dance drumming and sometimes the celebratory part of Davu II It is a song of encouragement that reminds all Yeve initiates that they have been called for a particular purpose and must live up to the expectation. The song is performed when they are going for an event and also about to indulge in ressin denote s not only the physical act of dressing oneself but is also a reminder of the spiritual preparations that priests must go through before showing up at various events. Performing this song also gives prestige to Yeve initiates with a reference t o Gbogblame(nu), which is an attribute of superiority and power of Yeve deities. The use of this name instills pride in the Yeve members.
272 Figure 7 2 Yeve Nye N uxoxo A Ayeve nye nuxoxo, ameawo dze ne loo, ayee Ayeve nye nuxoxo, ameawo dze ne Togbi togbi o dze ne, Mama mamao dze ne Sogbo fiaga Galimaku, aza ne xoe E h usunuo du Soja hee To kame h usunuo du Soja le Enogokpo, ye h usunuo du Soja le A1 Yeve nye nux oxo, amewo dze ne Togbi togbi wo dze ne Mama m amawo ha dze ne Sogbo fiaga, Galimaku Aza ne dze gome Husunuwo zu asrafowo Afikae h usunuwo zu asrafowo le? Nogokpo, ye husunowo du asrafowo le English Yeve is an old religion or religious system Many people converted and practice it Great grand fathers also participated in its worship Great grand mothers also participate in the worship ped
273 The Great chief of Sogbo, Galimaku also worship Celebration (worship) should start The husunu wo are known as soldiers Which place are the h usunu wo known to be soldiers? Their powers and prowess are known at Nogokpo. This is an example of a song sung in free rhythm that is, without a regular metric organization The song can be sung to accompany any Yeve dance drumming. It is an invoca tional song that is performed stylistically based on the emotion and feelings of the performers. As such the singers may choose to perform the song fast, slow, in a recitative manner, or as a chant. This song historically describes Yeve as one of the syste ms of worship that has been practiced from time immemorial. This song also speaks to the existence and practice of Yeve among the Ewes long before the arrival of the missionaries and colonial administration. By referencing the participation of the greatest chief of Sogbo named Galimaku the song describes the power and the spirituality of the Yeve and its cult. This song also references another important town called Nogokpo. Nogokpo is known throughout Ghana as the headquarters of the Yeve cult and its name is thought to put fear into the hearts of bad people. For example, if a person is robbed and cannot determine who robbed him/her the victim announces that he/she will take the case to Nogokpo for thunder to strike down the culprit. Usually it does not tak e long after such an announcement before the victim finds the lost items or learns who the culprit is. Since everyone knows that Nogokpo is where spiritual powers can cause destruction, the name Nogokpo highlights the strength, power and superiority of the Yeve. This song, then, instructs the entire public not to indulge in bad activities so that they can escape the wrath of the gods at Nogokpo.
274 Figure 7 3 Gbogblamenu A lo de hame, edo hamee Azala sue, azalasuo yomi Azalasu, azalasu o y omi Azalasu gbe mila su B okor E B okor su gbe mila tso Yeve eee Azalasu, azalasu o yomi A Gb ogblamenu do, e do de fufofe Aza lasu, aza lasu wo yomi Aza lasu, aza lasu wo yomi
275 Eha le husiwo (yevesiwo) nu wo le dzidzim Aza lasu, egbe miayi akpe Bokowo Bokowo dzrado mia yi a ko Yeve Aza lasu, aza lasu wo yomi English Gbogblamenu has come out into the public Today is the day event we are ready for it Today is the day event we are ready for it Husiwo or Yevesiwo are vigorously in tune (singing) It is today we will me et the diviners and priests The diviners and priests are set are set, hail to the deity, Yeve Today is the celebration and we are ready for it is another song in free rhythm. The phrases in the songs can be prolonged at the will of the canto r in order to have time to express his or her sentiments. This song is primarily performed during adavu dance drumming when the husunuwo are coming to display their spiritual skills. It is also performed to accompany the Yeve vodu (deity) during procession into the dance arena. This song is very powerful and invigorating in its performance. It carries intense emotion and force that initiate a link between ritual leaders and deities. As the English translation reads, Gbogblamenu is a powerful title accorded to a mystical and superior figure in Ewe mythology. In Ave Dakpa the Yeve cult normally refers to their vodu (deity) as the powerful mystical figure whose presence is felt through many activities, such as within a trance and speaking through a medium. In t his song the composer acknowledges the superior power and the presence of Gbogblamenu as he is making his way into the public accompanied with Yevesiwo priests, priestesses and diviners. As the song is performed with adavu dance drumming the Yevesiwo expe rience the divine presence of Gbogblamenu as they sway around while others chant. I have seen the power of this song and how it spiritually impacts the entire ritual performance many times in Ave Dapka
276 Figure 7 4 Ahodzo A Ahodzo miyi bo, aye ee eloo Vo Yali vodua hodzo miyi bo (2x) Ahodzo miyi bo, aye ee eloo A1 Aho dzo mi yi bo hee Vodu ahodzo mi Yali Vodua ahodzo miyi bo (2x) Aho dzo miyi bo hee Vodu ahodzo miyi bo English Something horrific has happened let us transcend into the spiritual realm Deities and gods something horrific has occurred Yali deity, we are entering the spiritual realm Something horrific has happened let us transcend into the spiritual realm This is another song in free rhythm to accompany Yeve dance drumming, especially adavu Similar to other free rhythm or free style songs this particular song is performed in a recitative manner. In its performance, this song can be considered a
277 prayer, call, and cry to the gods for assistance. According to Gorlin it is a song that is which seem to magically interact with the adavu musical texture to generate palpable waves of energy and mind : 144). This song is performed with lots of interjections and yodeling s that heighten the mood of the priests to perform magic and interact with deities. The composer also requests the assistance of Yalivodu to carry them to the spiritual realm. The closes t English word that explains Yali is tornado. As such the composer requests the deity that operates in the form of a tornado to help transcend them (the priests) into the spiritual realm to investigate the cause of the horrific inciden t that befell them. The significance of this song is to demonstrate high levels of spirituality, magic and the ability to invoke the deities. Also, I must stress that it is not compulsory according to Agbayiza to always mention Yalivodu when singing this song. In place of Ya livodu another deity can freely replace Yalivodu Figure 7 5 Ayisu Me V em O
278 A A yisu lee, me vemo hee Eyi ne woe mevemo tso le nya nu ha Ayisue lee e mevemo hee Ayisue b e mevemo hee Ey i ne woe mevemo tso le nya nu hee A1 Ayisu lee, me vem o sia Esi ne woe la me vem o, etsor sie nya le Ayisu, me vem o Ayisu me be me vem o Esi ne woe la mevem o etso sie nya le English Ayisu, it matters not (it hurts not ) You hurt me the pain is there al though I did not complain; tomorrow is another day Ayisu, you cause me but it hurts not Ayisu, I said you cause me but it is okay You hurt me the pain is there although I did not complain but tomorrow is another day is sung in free rhythm and accompanies mainly adavu and aforvu It relates to different aspects of life, for example, that of doing wrong against others. This song expresses the pain Ayisu has caused him/her when Ayisu used his high status to justify acting badly against prayer that Ayisu will definitely reap what he has sown. This song is very dear to the Yeve members in Ave Dakpa. They sing it with passion, expression and emphatic gestures. It is important to note that the Yeve cult me mbers in Ave Dakpa (and perhaps across the Ewe territory based on my experience) are not wealthy or rich people. Sometimes those who are wealthy and others in higher authorities disrespect them due to their financial background. This song comforts and enc ourages them (and others who listen to it) that a person does not remain in a particular situation throughout his/her life.
279 Figu re 7 6 Dalosu A Dalosu afoge madi yowo me Yowo mee mano Afoge madi yowo me Yowo mee mano A1 Dalosu dze ngo ne mano yowome Yowo mee mano Dze ngo ne mano yowome Yowo me no ge mala English Dalosu take the lead and I will follow you After you I come Take the lead and direct me And I will follow you is sung in veneration of the deity Da It is also sung to accom pany sovu dance drumming because they both have a common time signature. The song expresses the master servant relationship between Da and Dashi ( Da initiates). It is believed that deities direct, guide and protect initiates in times of troubles and mishap s. As such the song acknowledges these qualities about the Da to lead him in all aspects of life and as his/her master he/she will follow and obey the commandments.
280 Figure 7 7 Eku Le Yewu G e A Mawo de kpekpe eku le yewu ge hee Aho lee, eku le ye w u ge Dodo Mawo de kpekpke eku le yewu ge hee Aho lee, eku le yewu ge A1 Nusianu si mewo ha la, me le kuku ge Aho lee, mele kuku ge Madogo de Sokpornu ne aheviwo na kpom Madogo de Hukpo rnu ne aheviwo na kpom Nusianu si mewo ha la, mele kuku ge Aho lee, mele kuku ge English Whatever I have done in this life I will die Alas, I will die Even if I display at the Sokpornu for non members to watch my powers Even if I show off with the divinit ies for outsiders to see Whatever I have done in this life I will die Alas! I will die
281 This song is sung in strict rhythm to a 6/8 meter It is sung to accompany husago dance drumming. In this song the composer expresses his concerns about this life and i ts activities. The message of the song is simple but cuts across many aspects of life and gives instructions related to both physical and spiritual living. On a physical level the song speaks about materialistic aspects of life like cars, houses, prestige, wealth and power. As Dashi explains, material items do not keep a person alive forever. If they did, many more people would be alive today. Spiritually, people try to protect themselves with different types of spirits. Yet, eventually they also die. That is why the composer of this song describes that what ever a person acquires and accomplishes in this life he/she will surely die. This song advises both Yeve members and the public that we have brought nothing into this world and shall go with nothing. The most important thing to do according to Agbayiza is to love and be good to others. Figure 7 8 Agbenya Gbee M eva
282 A Agbenya gbe meva wozu kunugbe meva hee Agbenya gbe meva wozu kunugbe meva mevae Agbenya gbe meva wozu kunugbe meva A1 Agbenya gbee meva wo tro zu kunugbe meva hee Agbenya gbee meva wo tro zu kunugbe meva Midawo Ashito, wo tro zu kunugbe meva Midawo Ashito, wo tro zu kunugbe meva Agbenya gbee meva wo tro zu kunugbe meva English I have come to live and experience life just to realize that there is also death I have come for life and now there is also death Midawo Ashito, I realize there is also death Midawo Ashito, I realize there is also death I have come to live and experience life just to realize that there is also death This song is sung to accompany husago dance drumming and it is in 6/8. Generally, the song speaks to the reality and expectations of life. In this song the composer laments about his frustrations with life in two realities. In the first reality the composer remembers his childhood when he kn ew nothing about death. All that he knows is that he has come into this world to live life in abundance. As he begins to understand the realities of this world and that deat h is inevitable he becomes sad and laments. The second reality of this song is situated in the traditional religious concept of attempting to prolong life when faced with difficult situations, such as an incurable sickness or attacks from malevolent forc es. In this practice individuals seek to live long by entrusting their lives in the hands of the deities and other divinities. In this song the composer references the priest Midawo Ashito, who promises the composer a long life. However, in the midst of se eking this promise, the composer involves himself in
283 situations that rather shorten his life and he cannot undo what he has done. Thus, the song also advi z es us to also make good choices in life in addition to the reality that anyone who is born into this word will one day die. Figure 7 9 Dolawo Gbona A Dolao gbona, vodu dolao gbona Hotsui 5 kplanya menye dolao Dolao gbona Hotsui kplanya menye dolao Dolao gbona A1 Dolawo gbona, vodu dolawo gbona Hotsui kplanya menye na dola o Dolawo gbona Hotsui kplanya menye na dola o Dolawo gbona English The priests are coming, vodu priests are on their way priest The real priests are coming 5 Hotsui in the Anlo Ewe language is a cowry shell mostly used by the Yevesiwo in the cult. A photograph of the cowries is in the appendix B.
284 Cowries do not make a priest The real priests are coming In context, this song is talking abou t the discipline involved in being a vodusi or yevesi The advice in the song comes the second line of the English translation that in itself a discipline and a way of li fe. It takes lots of patience, spiritual growth and dedication to become a legitimate law abiding member. That is why the song says that it takes more than wearing cowry shells to become a Yevesi. In addition, the song counsels that nothing comes easy in t his life. Individuals must work very hard for whatever they intend to accomplish and must use self discipline, courage, patience and dedication in order to persevere. This song can be performed with any dance drumming in 2/4 or 4/4 time in the Yeve reperto ry or can be performed without accompaniment. Figure 7 10 Demeku nenyo wu A
285 Wom ala da dia, neme ku nenyo wu Dalosua wom ala da dia, Neme ku nenyo wu Wom ala da dia, neme ku nenyo wu (A1) Esi ne wom alea da dia, Ne de mekua nenyo wu Dalosu, wom alea da dia, Ne de mekua nenyo wu Esi ne wom alea da dia Ne de mekua nenyo awu English Since you have made me this way or put me in this condition It would have been best if I had die d Dalosu, this is how you treated me You should have let me die Y ou have im bued me with diseases and sickness es It would have been better to take my life. This song can be performed to any dance drumming in 2/4 and 4/4 time or a separate song session organized in the Yeve cult. The song expresses some of the inherent qualities o f the deities of the Yeve cult. In this song, the composer was disturbed and troubled about the deity into which he/she was initiated. When the Yevesi breaks the oath of secrecy, he/she is punished physically by the disciplinarian in the cult house. After that he/she also receives a kind of spiritual punishment from his/her deity for not keeping to his oath. This can be in the form of miserable sickness and discomfort leading to death. The condition can be so intense that the Yevesi would have preferred to die than to go through unbearable pain. This is clearly what the song expresses by choosing death. As this song is performed it reminds all the initiates to keep to their oath. They are reminded of the consequences that will come as a result of going contr ary to what they promised to abide by.
286 Figure 7 11 Gbayiza A Gbayiza du wo de dzi loo Gbayiza du wo de dzi Ahorme vodua do wo de dzie loo Gbayiza du wo de dzie Ayee ayee hee Gbayiza du wo de dzie A1 Gbayiza du ye de dzi loo Gbayiza du ye de dzi Ahorme vodu ha du ye de dzi loo Gbayiza du ye dzi hee Ayee ayee hee Gbayiza du ye de dzi English Gbayiza is dancing for it Gbayiza is still dancing for it Ahorme vodu is in support and dancing too Gbayiza is happy for it Ayee ayee hee Gbayiza is dancing and ver y thankful This is a popular song sung during ako dance drumming in the Yeve cult. It is a praise song that is performed to acknowledge the leadership of the Yeve cult. For t he priest in
287 represents a mystical deity. It is believed that deities are happy about law abid ing cult members. As such, it can be realized in the third line that the mystical deities who are leadership. Hence, they are all dancing to celebrate the direction that Agbayiza ha s given the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. As the song is performed individual members remind themselves to be accountable for any position or activity they are assigned in the cult house and make sure they perform it accurately. Figure 7 12 Huwoe ma ne gble
288 A E hu woe ma ne gble, Dalosu to woe ma ne gble E ne gble to wo menye tonyeo de Hu woe ma ne gble Hu woe ma ne gble, Dalosu hu woe ma ne gble To woe ma ne gble, Dalosu to woe ma ne gble (A1) Wo hue ma ne gble, Dalosu to woe ma ne gble Esi ne gble towo, menye tonye o la, Wo hu ye ma ne gble Wo hue ma ne gble, Dalosu wo hue ma ne gble English You have destroyed your deity, Dalosu it is yours that you destroyed Since you destroyed yours and not mine It is yours that you defiled You have destroyed your dest iny, Dalosu, it is yours that you destroyed It is yours that you destroyed, Dalosu, you have destroyed your deity This song can be sung with any dance drumming in 2/4 or 4/4 in the Yeve cult. It is also sung in free rhythm accompanied by an adodo (a do uble ended multi bell). The song expresses a regret for any Yeve initiate disobedience that has caused him/her to experience the wrath of the deity, Da the English translation means that an initiate has not lived up to the expectations of his/her deity. Hence, this is considered a breach of oath between the Yevesi and the Da. When this happens it is believed to affect the Yevesi emotionally and spiritually. Punishment may range from sickness to death depe nding on the magnitude of the offense. The song then sympathizes with such offenders or culprits in the cult and advises them to be careful of the deities and always remember the oath taken before acting inappropriately
289 Figure 7 13 Da fe nyado tsim A Da ya dem de, da wo nya do tsim hee Eda ya dem de, da wo nya do tsim aa 2x Kpa le fea de mekpo, kpa le fea de mekpo Ne meyi a dae kpa le Eda ya dem de, da wo nya do tsim hee A1 Da si dem la, Da fe nya va tsim Eda si dem la, da la fe nya va tsi Ekpa le fe ad e mekpo la, ekpa le fe ade mekpo la Mayi ava kpa lee Eda si dem la, eda fe nya va tsim English The Da that has married me, I am tired of her The Da that has married me, she is too much for me If I know where to wash her off me, if I know how to wash her o ff me I will go and wash her off The snake that h as married me, I am tired of him This song elucidates the burden initiates take on with their oath to the Da The composer expresses a feeling of frustration with the Da and that if there were a way to
290 get rid of it he would have done so. Unfortunately for members in this situation, the moment one becomes a member of the Yeve cult he stays a member until he dies. Yeve songs are very powerful songs and speak to realities of life. The songs are full of mor al v alues, instructions, and advices and are full of metaphor or coded messages. When the coded messages are decoded it is then that everyone appreciates the message of the songs.
291 CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION Throughout the seven chapters I have examined the Ye ve cult in Ave Dakpa, Ghana and its performance practices including the cult history, a variety of rituals various dance drumming s dances and different types of songs performed by the cult An Ewe adage read s, dume dede menye du (me) nyanya o This means geography and I have read articles and columns in newsletters that make fal se statements and misrepresent the history of towns in Ghana and other areas in Africa. Meanwhile, the native of that town struggles to understand the complexities surround ing the formation of his town. To reinforce the wisdom of this Ewe adage I argue that it is impossible to understand a one does not fully investigate where the people come from, how they came to their present location, and their general thoughts of themselves as individual s and as a community. I t became very clear after compiling and analyzing data from several interviews, narratives and oral accounts, that the history of Ave Dakpa people and their religious beliefs are tied to the series of events that occurred during the ir migration from Notise Thus, in understanding the background of the Yeve in Ave Dakpa, I gained an u nderstanding of why they do what they do It is therefore important to emphasize that the oral account s constitute a significant local understanding of the history of Ave Dakpa and their socio religious activities. M y analysis and consultation of secondar y sources on the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa (including others in the Volta region) reveals a historical connection to the Yoruba Shango and Dahomean Xevioso The historical connection is demonstrated in
292 many activities, related symbolism and the deities involv ed in the cult. For example, Yeve uses the desires and emotions common to several thunderbolt related deities The same characteristics are exhibited by the Xevioso and Shango. In addition, Yeve, Xevioso and Shango are all represented by the symbol of the double edged axe. The double edged axe is found in front of the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. The Ewes also call Yeve as Xebieso and the Dahomean call their thunder god Xevioso. However, these similarities do not mean that the organization of rituals and ceremon ies are the same. In reality, the deities operate through the thunder god but have different components in their ritual activities. Togbi Midawo Alorwoyie consistently states that, edu sia du kple efe koklo kokoe way of cutting significant for this dissertation. Since 2005, I have personally observed various differences in the way the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa perform s its activities and the way they are performed in my hometown. A comparison of t he cults is not within the scope of this dissertation However, a future comparative study should be undertaken to explore the range of Yeve practices and beliefs. Within the different Yeve cults throughout the Volta region there are similar basic ritual activities but the organization and operation of the rituals are totally different. A comparative study should go beyond description to answer t he question: why are some practices the same and others different? It is important to emphasize that the role s of the deities in the Yeve cult cannot be underestimated. African religious scholars including Parrinder (1970), Mbiti (1990; 1991), Idowu (1975) and Adegbola (1990) have extensively discussed the roles of
293 deities in human existence as intermediaries bet ween man and God. The deities in the Yeve cult are believed to serve the same purpose. These deities and others serve as intermediaries, linguists, agents, executors, policemen and guardians in theocratic government of God. Since the Supreme God is not wor ship ped directly, the Yeve cult members worship through the ir deities who impersonate the roles above. Their roles as intermediaries between man and God are are played out in a variety of rites such as adzaletsilele adadada dagbatsortsor and tsifodi amo ng others that have been discussed in this study. The rites are effective means of link age and communication between Yeve members (both living and dead) and their spirits deities and ancestors. These rites, be they prayers, forms of sacrifices or magic ar e believed to transcend worldly contexts into the divine realms of the deities with the support of appropriate dance drumming. The significance of the rituals I discuss in this dissertation should give an understand ing of what a Yeve initiate go es through to become a legitimate Yevesi through the concepts of hudzedze yeveforfor and amegigli Unlike other towns including my hometown, Whuti the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa maintains a relationship of mutual respectf with the rest of the community. The Yevesi a re constantly under pressure to preserve and maintain the cult laws and ethi cs while not falling victim to others or They must abide by all of the instruction s rules, norms and customs of the cult. However, the secrecy and intensity of t he Yeve cult does not prevent the Yevesiwo from socializing with non members in the community as some have speculated. Throug h my field research it became very clear to me, and to some of my family members, that the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa relates well
294 with their community. They resp ect each other s values, work amongst one another, and participate in community activities without segregation I have also observed that i n Ave Dakpa the Yeve cult is one of the many cults whose rituals are conceptualized as se rv ing a positive role to protect the town from external dangers and forces. It is a powerful secret society that enforce s the maintenance of law and order in Ave Dakpa. secret societies were instituted for the purpose of self preservation and for the preservation of the community. They enforced and maintained traditions, customs and beliefs. They determined ritual behavior and regulated social attitudes. In this way, they f 1979: 220 221). The role of the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa validates Awolalu and Dopamu nation. My grandfather and uncles as well as chiefs and elders in the Ave Dakpa community believe that the priests in the Yeve cult (and from other relig ious shrines) have spiritual eyes and can foresee activities that may befall the town or themselves as individuals. The priests consult the divinities and perform the required sacrif i ces to prevent any mishap or misfortune that might cause pain to the enti re community. They priests in Ave Dakpa also believe that they are the spiritual guards of Ave Dakpa. As such, they hold respected position s in the community Dakpa, it also provides services to the ge neral public Dakpa priests in the Yeve cult have medicinal knowledge and will attempt to cure maladies among those who seek their help A community member might seek the help of Yeve priests for is a sickness that is believed to have come from malevolent forces
295 and cannot be cured using western medicines. I personally witnessed a church member in Ave Dapka who was very sick and was brought to Agbayiza. It took Agbayiza two days to cure this patient I attended church with the same woman in 2011 when I was in Ave Dakpa. When I asked Agbayiza about this woman who was seeking he explain ed : Everything we do here comes from Mawu (God). He created the world and put everything in it for our use. He has giv en knowledge to our forebears on herbs that can cure, heal, protect and to perform miracle (in this context magic). Those who care to know use them and those who do not all, they forget that the medicines the white man brought were prepared from some of those herbs. In the past do you see people frequently get sick? Look at what is happening today, people die like mosquitos because they all confused. As for me when I feel pain I go into the bush get the right herbs prepare it and drink them. My children and my wives do not go to hospital. Those Christians sometimes come to me for cure when things get difficult. I do not mind, I do not criticize them, I simply charge them and perform my healing. I did not go to school to learn about medicine. It is what I also learned from my father, Ashito Agbelifufu. (Personal conversation with Agbayiza August 14, 2012). It is important to point out that t he relationship between Christians and tra ditional religious practitioners especially that of Yeve is often strained and antagonistic T his is frequently due to negative attitude s in the Christian community towards traditional religious practitioners and oth er non Christian groups in the area Throughout Ghana and especially in the Volta region Christian identity is seen as righteous and free from evil. Traditional practitioners on the other hand, have been considered evildoers and their religious practices disrespected and devalued Two popular Ewe phrase s describe Christians and non Christians as xosetowo kple abosamtowo ( xosetowo kple vodutowo Christians In fact, anyone who sp eaks Ewe and understand s these words in their context (from an Ewe perspective) will know the
296 magnitude of these phrase s and the ir connotations. Due to this judgmental attitude, in the two religious groups many people like to associate themselves to Christ ianity in order to publicly escape from being called Abosamto even if they secretly participate in traditional religious practices of some sort. Given the common history and beliefs of the people, but also this tension between religious systems, the relati onship between the community members and the Yeve cult can be seen as having many layers. On the bottom layer, each community member comes from the same background and often has a strong belief in the power and ability of the Yeve god to maintain peace and health in the community. Because of this belief, they seek the help of the Yeve priests. However, many choose to do so in secrecy due to the next layer, which holds the beliefs brought by colonialism regarding the evil nature of the Yeve practices. Many d o not want their fellow Christians to know that they have been involved in a Yeve ritual. An additional outside layer in Ave Dakpa includes the way that community and Yeve members alike approach each other with respect. A future study should look into the reasons for this mutual respect in Ave Dakpa Why, if this is true, is such respect not found in most other communities, where Yeve members are often publicly disrespected ? Perhaps the Ave Dakpa community members are more enlightened There is an understan ding of this on a societal level that can be seen though the many songs that have been composed throughout the Volta region that mock and criticize the believe that the people of Ave Dakpa do understand themselves as a community whose belief system has a common history. As such, despite diverse Christian, M uslim and traditional religious backgrounds they all understand the important and foundational
297 place of the Yeve cult and their contribution to the health and moral values of the community There is no doubt that drumming, dancing and singing constitute an essential component of African events and ceremonies. These three element s do not occur separately but come together under one umbrella Nketia (1975) has discussed the inter relatedness of music, dance and song as a unified concept of African performance traditions Like Nketia, Stone (2000) emphasize s the notion of African music performances which she refers t o as a constellation of the arts. performance is a tightly wrapped bundle of arts that are sometimes difficult to separate, even for analysis. Sing ing playing instruments, dancing, masquerading, and dramatizing are part of a concept ual package that many Africans think of as one and the In the W e s tern world music (in the form of drumming) dancing singing and drama are often conceptualized as separate disciplines This led s cholars, missionaries and anthropologists w ho first document ed African music decided to focus separately on the music, the dance, and the song texts of performance s Several mistakes have been made in researching African music in this manner, including by native scholars. More often than not the re searcher concentrates on their favorite aspect o f the performances. For example, one may focus on songs and their scales, another on the instrumental e n sembles and still another on just the dance. It is not surprising that this occurred because researchers often failed to consider African performance from a holistic perspective In addition, many scholars did not possess fcompetency in the music dance, and linguistic complexities of the performance traditions they sought to analyze T o understand African m usical performance
298 holistically is to understand the entire performance. Only by doing this can one understand the true meaning of the performance As a vital aspect of Ewe life music in the form of drumming dancing and song accompanies both social and religious aspects of life This is also true with in the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. Dance drumming cuts across all Yeve rituals, be they sacrifice s prayers, graduations, healing s funeral s divination s incantations, magic or other activities. As with the dan ce and singing, the drumming serve s as a stimulating force that energerizes and empowers the performance of the rituals. The role of Yeve drummers is crucial in Yeve ceremonies. As demonstrated in this dissertation, drummers perform specific rhythms using vugbe (drum texts) that are closely connected to the particular rite being performed. My research in Ave Dakpa reinforces the known perception of Yeve drummers as exceptional drummers. Their remarkeable drumming styles and knowledge is no doubt derived fro m the training and initiation to understand the knowledge surrounding ritual activities and the ability to invoke the gods In Chapter s the fact that he acquired his musical knowledge from his father and was initiated as drummer in the Yeve cult. It is a unique background that drummers who play during social events cannot get access to unless they are part of the Yeve cult. The Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa performs seven dance drumming genres, namely husago adavu aforvu sovu akor avlevu and davu that accompany its ceremonies I must emphasize that Yeve dance movements are not radically different from typical Ewe danc e that us es the torso contraction and release in addition to the expansion of the shoulder blades back an d forth. The Yeve dances however, involve many different
299 levels of energ y emotions and gestures depending on the particular dance drumming or specific rite being perform ed As given as an example earlier the dances focus on the exaltation of deities whil e skillful drummers perform with at highly spirited energy level In addition good dancers dance themselves out and are carried away by spirits, while singers sing powerfully, chant and sway themselves until the presence of the deities are experienced. Y eve songs constitute a vital part of the entire ritual and dance drumming sessions. The song texts are closely linked to rituals and describe the characteristics of the deities, supernatural powers and interpersonal relationships with deities. These song t exts are based on experiences, mistakes, disobedience, breach of oath of secrecy and punishments of past initiates of the cult. The significance of the songs and their texts is to advi s e current members to learn lesson s from the experience of other initiat es. It is very important to note that Yeve songs are also full of philosophical thoughts and instructions that indirectly educate non members about some realities of life. For example, making good decisions in life, not being jealous and respect ing one ano ther. These songs have been composed by victims of the cult as a way of sharing their stor ies and grief s As the songs are performed the instructions and the values embedded in them are maintained and transmitted to new members. Explaining the maintenance and values of traditional and religious songs and the people who perform the songs Gbolonyo explains: The survival of any type of music is dependent upon the extent to which the music is able to satisfy the values the people seek in it. The values, whic h may be aesthetic or structural, social, historical or religious, may operate individually or in a simultaneous complexity. In other words, the factors that shape and maintain the music, the text and all other things associated with it may be found in the music itself, in the artist, or in the
300 context of performance, as well as in the rationale behind the composition and performance of such musical works. Besides that, the poetic creativity that goes into the composition of these songs plays an important r ole in their maintenance and continuous transmission. (2009: 472) Yeve songs are very powerful tools in advising the public at large. Although a non member is forbidden from singing the songs a non member can listen to them and understand some of their me anings I personally experience d the truth that among the Ewe, songs can be s of with my aunt 6 This is also true in the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. Yeve songs texts exposed rich cultural values and knowledge on the custo ms and tradition of the Ewe people. As with the dance drumming Yeve songs heighten the entire Yeve performance and help it be effective and satisfactory. Similar to other traditional religious institutions and societies the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa is main tained as an oral tradition whose knowledge and practices are transmitted from one generation to the other. It involves an array of ritual complexities, knowledge systems, dance drumming song types and other related activities constituting the totality of the cult. It is important to reiterate that the effective maintenance of the Yeve cult and the preservation of its ritual knowledge from outside influences became an Unlike other social groups, the Yeve cult has resisted the adoption of new dance drumming styles into its repertoire Yeve repertories are performed over and over from memory as a means of preserving the continuity of the Yeve cult and its tradition. As Agawu Precolonial A frican cultures were predominantly oral cultures whose poetry, dance, and song reside in the memories of the performers and audience. Each 6 See Avorgbedor (1994; 20 01a)
301 occasion of performance provided an opportunity to retrieve what had been stored and This is exactly what the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa does. Although the Yeve cult is one of the oldest religious traditional cult s that continue s to perform the same repertoire every performance is highly powerful and invigorating in its presentation as if it were learn ed afresh. The performers do not get bored or tired of performing the same dance drumming because the performance reinforces and reminds the initiates of their commitments, bonds, and the relationship between them and their deities. This study only describes a small portion of the Yeve cult, rituals and musical activities in Ave Dakpa and there is more to be done. There is so much to learn not only about the Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa but from other traditional religious groups and societies among t he Ewe speaking people of Ghana. It is obvious that some of these societies especially that of Yeve are difficult to research due to the control of esoteric knowledge and specific rites that only initiated members can participate in I am fortunate to ha ve had the opportunity to participate in Yeve in Ave Dapka Although I have experienced lots of challenges and criticism during my research from Christian friends and colleagues in the academ y, I stay ed focused on the task. I must emphasize that my experie nce as a native Ewe musician, drummer, dancer and composer trained in both western and African musical background has contributed immensely to this dissertation. I am confident that this dissertation can serve not only as a model from the view of a schola r performer but also contribute s to an indepth understanding of Ewe cultural traditions in general. My hope is that this piece of work will open opportunit ies for other researchers and scholars, especially those that are native Ewe to document
302 not only th e social musical traditions but also traditional religious types since some of them are in decline. That is an important way that we as native Ewe people can preserve our cultural heritage and maintain its continuity for the coming generation.
303 APPEN DIX A BIOGRAPHIES Agbayiza Agbelifufu Agbayiza Agbelifufu is a hugbono and the head midawo of the Agbelifufu Yeve cult in Ave Dakpa. He is also a farmer, diviner, herbalist and a recognized religious leader in the entire Ave Dakpa Agbayiza served as my principal informant who explain ed all the details regarding the rituals of Yeve and its practices. As a leader of the Yeve cult, he was initiated into So and Da the principal deities worshipped in his Agbelifufu Yeve cult. As a priest his m ajor responsibil ities include mediating between the gods and man, performing all sacrifices, and being able to summon the gods for action anytime. Hutodzehu Sofeda Huto as he is popularly called became part of the Agbelifufu Yeve cult when he was healed from a terrible sickness believed to have attacked him by witches. He is a husunu and a great dancer, a farmer and recently an herbalist. He lives in Ave Dakpa where he helps other working on the farm and also maintains his ritual responsibilities with the Yeve cult. Togb inye Agbelifufu Togbinye is the son of Agbayiza Agbelifufu and a carpenter by profession. He is a powerful young man who always assists his father by learning the practices and the operations of the deities. As a great singer, drummer and dancer he was on e of my most valuable research assistants and accompanied me t o every corner in Ave Dakpa and the neighboring towns to observe festivals and other related religious dance
304 drumming. He is currently a member of the Ave Dakpa youth association on religious a f fairs. Tsale Agbelifufu Tsale is the lead drummer of the Yeve drum ensemble in Ave Dapka and organizes drummers during performan ces in the Yeve cult. Like Torgbinye, Tsale is a son of Agbayiza and has been initiated as a lead drummer of the Yeve cult as na rrated in his testimony He performs extensively in Ghana and other neighboring countries such as Togo and Benin, and organizes drumming workshops in other religious cults in the Volta region. He is an extraordinary drummer who has taught me so much about drumming. Due to his exceptional drum ming skills different religious and social groups hire him regularly to perform at their events. On June 2, 2013 in the morning while I was preparing to call Ave Dakpa to get clarifications on some rituals I had a call from his brother Torgbinye with the sad news that Tsale ha d died that morning. The Yeve cult at Ave Dakpa has lost an important person and he will forever be remembered.
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318 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Samuel Elikem Kwame Nyamuame is a Doctoral Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Florida. Elikem received his Masters degree from Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance & Music and a Bach Performing Arts at the University of Ghana, Legon. He is currently a Co Director of Agbedidi Africa Ensemble and also teaches Ghanaian drumming and dance in the School of Music and the School of Theatre and Dance at the University of Florida As an experienced drummer, dancer, and choreographer, Elikem has taken a keen interest in researching the concept s and foundation s of traditional Ghanaian drum performance while maintaining his expertise in the performance of other styles of African music and dance.