Possession, Ecstasy, and Law in Ewe Voodoo, 3-5

pp. 252-3, n. 3:1 metaphoric crossings of borders

p. 252

"when a person first goes into trance, an onlooker might say ... "She went to the other side of the street."

p. 253

... when woman enters menopause ... then ... she is "drying her net." She has finished her traversing of the waters of pregnancy and no longer wishes to "catch fish.""

pp. 82-83 deities in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast

p. 82

"a fetish called "KUNE" originating from Nkoranza in Ashanti; and similar in its practices to "ABEREWA"" {/ABeREWA/ = /ABLEWA/}

p. 83

"Senya Kupo, the forerunner of the contemporary gorovodu Sunia Compo, and Cheriya, nother name for the god Ablewa. A third deity, Nan Tongo, is possibly connected to the Nana Wango of Grovodu."


[quoted from A-K, p. 180 :] "The home of Senya Kupo is at Senyon, near Bole, that of Nana Tongo is in the Tong Hills near Zuarungu."


"Tigari was commonly found in Akim, and ... came from the Wa district of the Northern Territories".


[quoted from A-K, p. 188 :] "Kupo ... was once the head of seven villages which ... had amalgamated into ... Senyon".


[quoted from A-K, p. 196, concerning Cheriya among the Nyankumasi people :] "Cheriya protects its members from false witness, theft, conspiracy, and ... Cheriya also make the claim ... that its members are immune from death by snakebite".

A-K = Margaret Joyce Field : Akim-Kotoku : an Oman of the Gold Coast. London, 1948.

pp. 82-83 origins (and earlier forms of names) of Goro-vodun deities


original location

earlier names

current usual name

refererence : A-K


Nkoranza in As^anti



p. 180


" "





Senyon, nigh Bole

Senya Kupo

Sunia Compo


Tong Hills nigh Zuarungu

Nana Tongo

Nana Wango


Wa district in the Northern Territories



p. 182

Tigare cult

p. 85

"misogynous abuses known to Atinga (Tigare, Atsigali ...)"

p. 77

"Against ... female "witches" who appeared to accumulate wealth at the expense of others, ... Atinga attacked the female body as ... false representation ... and of hidden accumulation" (quoted from AR, pp. 122-23)

AR = Andrew Apter : "Atinga Revisited". In :- Comaroff (eds.) : Modernity and Its Malcontents. Chicago, 1993. pp. 111-128.

pp. 87-88, 92 Nkora / Abirewa from the Ivory Coast

p. 87

" "Nkora Fetish," ... being a form of the Ablewa (also Abrewa or Abirewa) fetish". {the Nkora fetish allegedly "came from the French territory" ("TAS", p. 328)}

(VD, p. 221 :) "the "ABIREWA" (old woman) fetish. It migrated from the French Ivory Coast and spread ... throughout ASHANTI. The "ABIREWA" was supposed to be accompanied by a male companion called "MANGURO," who acted as her executioner."

(VD, p. 222 :) "Weekly dances took place at all the villages that had accepted "ABIREWA." The devotees of the cult were distinguished by oblong marks of white clay painted on the forehead and temples."

p. 92

"From such a small fetish from French Country sprung all the ‘Abirewa’ palaver".

VD = Francis Fuller : A Vanished Dynasty : Ashanti. 1921. http://books.google.com/books?id=_ZmYTkEIXG8C&pg=PA222&lpg=PA222&dq=

"TAS" = Judy Rosenthal : "Trance against the State". In :- Carol Greenhouse; Elizabeth Mertz; Kay warren (eds.) : Ethnography in Unstable Places. Duke U Pr, 2002. pp. 316-351. http://books.google.com/books?id=v4dhw3exuaIC&pg=PA328&lpg=PA328&dq=

pp. 88-89 further various deities of Gold-Coast provenience

p. 88

"Kune (now the Gorovodu Kunde)". {("TAS", p. 328 :) "Kune (Kunde) is indeed similar to Ablewa today as they are man and wife, father and mother gods, in Gorovodu."}


"the Dente fetish was what made Kratchi the important place it had once been".

p. 89

" "Hwemisu Fetish," ... calls it "Donkor" medicine, ... for donkor is a Twi word for a slave ... . Gorovodu sofos say that Hwemisu was an early name for Banguele, the warrior iron god".

Tigare cult

p. 85

"misogynous abuses known to Atinga (Tigare, Atsigali ...)"

p. 77

"Against ... female "witches" who appeared to accumulate wealth at the expense of others, ... Atinga attacked the female body as ... false representation ... and of hidden accumulation" (quoted from AR, pp. 122-23)

AR = Andrew Apter : "Atinga Revisited". In :- Comaroff (eds.) : Modernity and Its Malcontents. Chicago, 1993. pp. 111-128.

similarities of Goro-vodu to religions of tribes in the Gold Coast

p. 255, n. 3:13

"vodus or spirits (susum in Twi) among Asante and other Akan groups" : "The ... colonial files ... all documented Akan worship of spirits bearing the same names as the gorovodus."


venerated by "Fante healers (bosonfo) ... from Accra to Cape Coast" : "the same god-objects as in Gorovodu worship, celebrated by the same drumming rhythms from the north (brekete), although the Fante names of gods were different."

p. 256, n. 4:13

"Fante women ... how they danced for their gods. ... their dance was brekete. ... their fetishes and god-objects were exactly the same as the material gorovodus, albeit with different names."

p. 93 meanings of the words /evu/ & /tro/

"one Ewe word for the material fetish, evuehu in Mina – is the word for machine". {cf. religious use of the Skt. word /yantra/ ‘machine’}

"The very word tro in its verb form, means a turning or turning into something or someone else, a changing or transforming ... . ... It is a daring ... god ... who then recreates its human worshippers and gives them the ecstatic privilege of becoming half human and half divine in possession trance."

p. 102 demeanour during spirit-possession

"When Gorovodu and Mama Tchamba spirit hosts first enter into trance, they often have bulging eyes, shaking limbs, and monstrous expressions typical of spirit possession in Africa; they are said to look "wild" (ada), like ferocious animals and hunters."

pp. 106, 110-111, 260 Mama C^amba


Mama C^amba


"Mama Tchamba priestly roles are passed on matrilaterally. ... (Mama means "grandmother" in Ewe ... .)"


[quoted from "FT&DB", pp. 191-192 :] "Yendi is the name of one of the Tchamba spirits, and it is also the name of a Ghanaian town ... . Another Tchamba deity is Bubluma, a name derived from Blu (stranger, or non-Anlo)."


"Mama Tchamba metal woven bracelets (Tchambaga) ... point ... to Mama Tchamba’s desire for ... honoring the slave spirits."

260, n. 7:4

"Mama Tchamba adepts do not eat barracuda or shrimp."

"FR&DB" = Judy Rosenthal : "Foreign Tongues and Domestic Bodies". In :- Maria Grosz-Ngate & Omari Kokole (eds.) : Gendered Encounters: Challenging Cultural Boundaries and Social Hierarchies in Africa. Routledge, NY, 1997. pp. 183-204. http://books.google.com/books?id=nZPIsALpfvgC&pg=PA191&lpg=PA191&dq=

pp. 107, 109 ownership of slaves; uncouthness of slaves

p. 107

"among Asante ... Odonko was the term used ... to mean "slave" : ... Ewe also employ the word donko (or adoko) to mean slave".

p. 109

[quoted from "FT&DB", pp. 191-192 :] "interpretation of the Ewe signifying expression "The slave understands language, but does not understand ‘the wild crab’ " ... (Rosenthal 1995 : 581-82). Adangala (wild crab) is the term from which comes adangana (signifying expression). Akin to the signfyin’ monkey among African Americans, it is a way to signify on someone". ["See The Signifyin’ Monkey (Gates 1988). (p. 256, n. 4:9)]

Rosenthal 1995 = "The Signifying Crab". In :- CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 10 : 581-86.

pp. 130-134 adoption (instead of slavery)




"the Ewe word amefefle ... means "bought person"".

Thus, "foreigners who want to adopt Ewe children" accept those children as their amefefle : "the parents may


therefore ask for compensation for their children".

"When small children and adolescents are turned over to relatives who can afford to pay their school fees, the children are ... referred to as ... bought persons."


Gorovodu devotees deem that it "is necessary in the present worship of slave spirits, to give bought people whatever they need and want."


"bought men had children with Ewe women. ... the offspring of bought persons ... were not bought persons themselves, even when both parents were".


"the Trokosi servants (wives of the spirit Kosi ...) ... are female relatives of persons accused of crimes, standing in for the guilty relative until other amends can be made. Such young women are handed over to the priest of the Tro order in order to serve the deity (and sometimes the priest) for a long


or short period, according to the circumstances. They are ... taught how to perform rituals, and may even become priest[esse]s who are accorded great respect." [257, n. 5:1 : Ewe "likened the Trokosis, who were integrated into shrine life to adopted children".]


"the bought person is not any more one’s property ... than a husband or wife ... is property."

133-134, 144 ownership of land

p. 133

"The owner of the land ... belongs to the land rather than owning the land in a fashion that would imply that the ground itself could be alienated from a particular lineage".

p. 134

"In the Gorovodu order, which divinizes bought people, ... There is not an owner who is superior to or more powerful than the owned."

p. 144

"between the people of the house (... indebted) and their slaves (divinized and ... demanding and imperious)."

pp. 137, 140, 146 initiation caerimony

p. 137

"The trosi winced as three long cuts were made near the corners of her eyes at each temple and near the corners of her mouth, rather like a cat’s whiskers. Black powder (atike) was rubbed into the cuts, and the bleeding stopped. Then the young sofo administered plant juices. He squeezed the liquid from a cloth into her eyes, her nose, her ears, and her mouth."

p. 140

"Occasionally a trosi will become a Christian ... . But such persons may become crazy or may return to the vodus and must be initiated again." ["We must treat her like a new trosi and open the mouth as though it had never been opened before." (p. 208)]

p. 146

"There is a becoming of gods, a turning (tro) of the human (ame) {cf. [Bantu] /AMa/, as in ‘AMa-zulu’} into the divine being (tro). ... the juice of certain plants is put into the trosi’s eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. ... the plants enable her to see the vodus, to hear their voices, to breathe with them, and to speak their words."

pp. 118, 141-142, 257 spirit-spouse : sexual relationship of a human with a deity


sexual relationship


"male Mamisis say that they are "slave lovers" of Mami Wata. (Note the interview with a "lover" of Ezili Lasirene and Ezili Danto in Rene’ and Houlberg 1995.)"


"the ecstasy of coupling ... with deities is said to be incomparably more intense than the coupling of mere mortal lovers."

257, n. 5:3

"one hears female trosi speak of her vodu husband in romantic terms. One of the reasons that she cannot have sexual intercourse on the day that she might expect to be possessed (during a drumming ceremony) is that her spiritual husband cannot abide her relationship to a mortal husband."


"When the tro comes over you, it is like being with a lover – you want it all the time."

Rene’ & Houlberg 1995 = George Rene’ & Marilyn Houlberg : "My Double Mystic Marriages to Two Goddesses of Love : an interview". In :- Donald J. Cosentino (ed.) : Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou. Los Angeles : UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1995. pp. 287-299.

Judy Rosenthal : Possession, Ecstasy, and Law in Ewe Voodoo. U Pr of Va, Charlottesville, 1998.