Remains of Ritual [Ewe at Three-Town (the 3 towns : Denu; Xedzranawo; Adafienu)]

/x/ = /h^/

/e/ = epsilon (/e,/ or /e./

/o/ - omega (/o,/ or /o./)






Southern Lands



Northern Gods



Brekete Pantheon



Where Divine Horsemen Ride



Salah! Salah!



The Poured Gift






Rhythm of the Crossroads






Opening the Door


Capp. 0-1.


0. (pp. 1-5) "Southern Lands".

pp. 2-3 occupations



its meaning



priest of Xebioso (the thundre-god)



diviner of spirits



Brekete priest



linguist (translator, dragoman)

p. 3 Legba

"Legba has a penis so large that he must carry it over his shoulder ... . ... A divine trickster, Legba, as with that other phallic god Hermes, is also a divine messenger, ... who speaks the language of the sky."

[p. 192, n. 0.5 : "According to Crapazano, Hermes was a "phallic god ..." (1992:44), which he equates with the ... act of interpretation, of penetrating the meaning of things".

Crapazano 1992 = Vincent Crapazano : Hermes’ Dilemma and Hamlet’s Desire. Harvard U Pr.


00. (pp. 7-12) "Northern Gods".

p. 193, n. 00.5 recommended books

"The one major work on music in Brekete shrines is Richard [T.] Hill’s master’s thesis [Possession-Trance and Music of the Blekete Cult ... .] ([U of Ghana,] 1981)".

For Nigeria, [John] McCall’s Dancing Histories : Heuristic Ethnography with the Ohafia Igbo ([Ann Arbor : U of MI Pr,]2000)". [DH]

DH = Dancing Histories


000. (p. 13) "Brekete Pantheon".



Sanya Kompo

god of stone; linguist

Banle / Ketetsi

warrior ["the owner of dzogbe (the desert), ... Ketetsi (one of Bangle’s many praise names)" (p. 16)]

Sakra Bode

god of land & of stool


god of waters & of roads


god of the 7 knives

[/-wo/ is the plural suffix, as in /vodu/ ‘deity’, /voduwo/ ‘deities’.]


1. (pp. 15-41) "Where Divine Horsemen Ride".

pp. 16-9 spirit-possession by deities




"a soundscape of welcome and praise, calls northern gods to possess their devotees. ... As long as the gods are there, someone always must be leaving. What is a being-there for a deity is always a being-away for a devotee.

And this is exactly what happened to the old woman when she became possessed. ... . ... the god joined her. ... when he rides he puts her through paces she couldn’t possibly imagine performing in her everyday life : spinning at a high rate of speed for twenty or thirty revolutions {rotations} and then landing on one foot precisely at the last stroke of the bell patters to continue a dance ...; or sitting on the sharp end of a short spear ... . ... Her knowledge of possession is restricted to arrivals and departures, of going into and out of trance, everything in between a total blank. ...


The fact that her old and partially crippled body could execute such impressive feats of balance and strength was confirmation for those who witnessed such events".


"When Bangle first came [to this woman], as with all trosiwo, the ride was a silent one. Until the mouth-opening ritual (nuvuvu) is performed, those possessed cannot talk, nor does anyone know which god had come. ... they are confined to a dancing that is yet to achieve the power and dexterity of a fully installed trosi. To open the mouth seven fowl are needed, along with ... a calabash of kola nuts (roughly one hundred), and a calabash of kaolin. ...

The night before the mouth opening [the female candidate for initiation] was taken to dzogbe, the desert where Bangle rules, a place near the shrine ... . In dzogbe ..., confessing all that she had done wrong in her life ... Her head was shaved (hair can accumulate negative forces), and she was bathed in the amatsi (herb water) of the gods. The next day ... the chicken divination began."


The chicken-divination is performed to determine which tro hath been possessing the candidate. "... once the tro made himself known, three cuts about a half inch long were made at the corner of [the female initiate]’s mouth. The same medicines and herbs that are used to make the fetishes ... were rubbed into the wounds, creating a permanent tattoo. You can always spot a trosi on account of these marks. ... The tro, now installed, is given voice ... . Once the mouth is opened, whenever the god rides a torrent of words pours forth in a multiplicity of languages – Ewe, Twi, Hausa, and others – addressing a complex of issues ... that affect the members of the shrine."

p. 19 the sequence of testing deities (by chicken-divination) to determine which one hath been possessing the candidate for initiation


Kunde, the father


Ablewa, the mother


Sanya Kompo, their firstborn offspring



pp. 32, 195 the deity Sanya Kompo

p. 195, n. 1:9

"Sanya Kompo ... keeps of all that you do whether good or bad. ... s/he is also called god of the stone. There are varying opinions of whether Sanya Kompo is male or female ... . Debrunner (1959:107) states that this fetish came from "Kupo at Senyon near Bole (hence Senya-Kupo), while Field (1960:90) locates the shrines of "Senyon Kupo" as coming from "Senyon near Wa." There was even a ... Senyakupo ... in Kumasi".

p. 32

"Sanya’s d.od.o (hourglass-shaped tension drum)".

Debrunner 1959 = H. Debrunner : Witchcraft in Ghana. Kumasi.

Field 1960 = Margaret J. Field : Search for Security ... of Rural Ghana. Evanston : Northwestern U Pr.

p. 20 Lahare

"Brekete, officially known as Lahare Kunde".

[p. 195, n. 1:10 : "According to some sofowo, Lahare is the Eweized version of Alhaji, an honorific designating a man who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca."] {Perhaps a more likely <arabic derivation might be from /lah/ ‘deity/divine’ + />aray/ ‘to keep draught-animals in a stable’ (LA-L 1:29b). [cf. likening of the spirit-possessed to a ridden horse (on p. 37)]}

[p. 29 Kunde is a lion]

{Howbeit, if an >aramaic derivation be sought, it may be possible to consider />aryeh/ ‘lion’ (Strong’s 745); with S^ims^o^n’s discovery of (S^apat.i^m 14:8) the lion’s corpse indicated by <arabic />ary/ ‘honey’.}

LA-L = Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Librairie du Liban, 1975.

Strong’s = Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of Bible Words.

pp. 20, 195 migration of the Ewe from the east

p. 20

"Ewes ... during their long migration from points further east to their present home."

p. 195, n. 1:14

"The story of the migration from Nigeria, especially their extended stay in Togo under the "cruel" king Agokoli, is something every Ewe knows by heart."

pp. 22-3, 196 historic importation of the trowo & their phonetically altered names

p. 196, n. 1:20

"See Ward’s (1956) account of ... acquiring "Kune" (Kunde) ... from the north. Also, Parker (2004:408) writes that ... two fetishes --



{cf. name of Kongo god /Zarabanda/?}


and Aberewa – were brought to Sunyani and then to Kumasi from the Dagarti ... . In the Brekete pantheon Ablewa (the ewe-derived spelling of Aberewa, which means "old woman" in the Twi language) is the mother and Sakra Bode is the god of the land."

p. 22

"From Kpando, a town in the northern Volta Region that ... was part of the Trans-Volta region of Togoland, the shrine first spread to the coastal border town of Aflao, then shortly after to Lome, the capital of Togo, and to Accra, the capital of ... the Gold Coast."

p. 23

"The trowo, the spirit-gods ... brought ... from the Dagarti, were ... successful ... . Kpando became a kind of Mecca".

Ward 1956 = Barbara E. Ward : "Some Observations on Religious Cults in Ashanti". AFRICA : J OF THE INTERNAT AFRICAN INST 26 (1):47-61.

Parker 2004 = John Parker : "Sakrabundi and Abrewa, 1889-1910". J OF AFRICAN HISTORY 45:393-420.

p. 196, n. 1:21 subtribes of the Ewe

"the northern Ewe, who settled places such as Kpando;

the southern Ewe, dominated by the Anlo; and

a more peripheral group, the Tano, located on the banks of the Volta River."

p. 196, n. 1:22 Dagarti shrines

"The Dagarti had shrines ... . ... Allman and Parker (2005) ... cite the extensive influence of ... one earth shrine (Tongnaab) ... . ...

{" two Tongnaab shrines in particular, Bonaab and Yanii, near the village of Tengzug, became the focus of well-organised ritual networks integrating clients from among neighbouring Kasena, Builsa and Nankana groups as well as the surrounding kingdoms. Pilgrims could acquire portable shrines which in turn fostered subordinate ritual systems." ("RT")}

Werbner (1979) discusses a similar process for the Boghar shrine".

" ‘shadow’ and the physical substance of earth, both of which were transported in a portable shrine called bo<artyii and used to empower satellite medicine shrines." ("E&Sh")

"(that is, the boghar personified as the collectivity of all the ancestors)" ("PAW"IV)

Allman & Parker 2005 = Jean Allman & John Parker : Tongnaab: the History of a West African God. Bloomington : Indiana U Pr.

"RT" = "Review of Tongnaab".

Werbner 1979 = Richard P. Werbner : "The Ritual Passage of West African Strangers". MAN, n.s., 14 (4):663-83.

"E&Sh" = John Parker : Earth and Shadow : substance, medicine and mobility in the history of ... Tongnaab shrines". ANTHROPOLOGY & MEDICINE, 18 (2011):257-70.

"PAW" = "Pietas in Ancestor Worship. The Henry Myers Lecture, 1960"

p. 23 kola-nuts

"All of the northern shrines that came to the coast were collectively known as gorovoduwa ... . The first part of the name, goro, is the Hausa word for kola nut, the medicine cum sacrament of these shrines, ... with the forest zones ..., where the most sought-after variety (Cola nitida) is grown ... . ...

These days in Ghana, pretty much the only people who chew kola on a regular basis are ... members of gorovodu shrines. ... Whenever prayers are made ... kola is ... obligatory ... . And, as in the north, ... the kola – distributed to members in is transformed state {eucharist} as the food of the gods – both heals and protects.

It is the kola sacrament ... that, in Ewe eyes, separates these gods [the Trowo] from the ... vodu, the word for spirit-god in many Kwa/Gbe languages of the Guinea coast."

p. 24 aequivalencies among deities in different systems

"Greenberg (1941) ... makes one-to-one equivalences between iskoko / bori spirits and such coastal gods as

Xebioso, the thunder god of the Ewe and Fon, and

Shango, a similar thunder god of the Yoruba;

Aido Hwedo, the rainbow snake of Dahomey, and

Legba the messenger and vodu of the crossroads."

Greenberg 1941 = Joseph H. Greenberg : "Some Aspects of Negro-Mohammedan Culture-Contact among the Hausa". AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, n.s., 43 (1):51-61.

pp. 196-7, n. 1:24 Boorii

p. 196, n. 1:24

"Greenberg (1941) takes Bori as an Islamized version of the pre-Islamic iskoki spirits of the Hausa-speaking Maguzawa ..., who were originally from the area around Kano State in Nigeria. ...

p. 197, n. 1:24

Bori in principle is open-ended but with at least several hundred named spirits (Erlmann 1982:49, cites over four hundred {cf. 401 deities in Yoruba religion}) ... . ... Bori live in the well-defined sacred city of Jangare (Besmer 1983)".

Erlmann 1982 = Veit Erlmann : "Trance and Music in the Hausa Boorii Spirit Possession Cult in Niger". ETHNOMUSICOLOGY 26 (1):49-58.

Besmer 1983 = Fremont E. Besmer : Horses, Musicians, and Gods. South Hadley )MA) : Bergin & Garvey.

pp. 26, 32, 197 musical instruments for spirit-possession caerimonies

p. 197, n. 1:24

"most of the literature cites the importance of spirit-specific melodies supplied by

the garaya (two-stringed plucked lute) and

the goge (single-stringed spike fiddle), instead of drumming (Besmer 1983:51; ... Erlmann 1982:51).

The style of northern drum that was brought south and adopted for Brekete ceremonies is similar to the gun-gon snared double-headed drum of the Dagbamba."

p. 26

"Pretty much all that remains of northern musical practice ... is the double-headed drum ... . ... Transformed from a shallow wooden drum ..., it has a low booming sound with a buzzed edge due to the string snares affixed to each head, a feature typical or northern drums."

p. 197, n. 1:26

"See Locke (1990:26-27) for a description of the gun-gon drum from which the brekete drum was adapted."

Locke 1990 = David Locke : Drum Damba : Talking Drum Lessons. Crown Point (IN) : White Cliffs Media.

p. 197, n. 1:25 Tigare & Alafia

"About the same time Brekete arrive among the Ewe, Tigare took root in the Cape Coat region among the Fante (Field 1960:90). ... it spread like wildfire across the Guinea Coast, arriving under the name Atinga in Nigeria, where it once again moved north (Matory 1994:503-4 ...).

During this same period Alafia (derived from the Hausa word for health and strength) also started to crop up in the eastern coastal communities of the Volta Region ... . There are a few Alafia shrines still around".

Matory 1994 = J. Lorand Matory : "Rival Empires ... and the Religions of Spirit Possession among the Oyo-Yoruba". AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST 21 (3):495-515.

p. 28 kpome

"Inside the shrine-house, each god has his own kpome (literally, "in the oven," but here meaning the home of the god), a half-walled cubicle".

pp. 28-30 hunting-god Ade; his adewu

p. 28

"the special hunting songs of the bosomfowo were raised as the sacrificial priests processed out of the shrine led by a drummer playing on the apentema, a small footed hand drum of Akan origin now associated with Ade, the indigenous god of hunting".

p. 29

"When the bosomfowo came ... each was wearing his bloodstained adewu (hunter’s shirt). These ritually charged tunics with their sewn-on talismans (tsila) ... are always ... offering protection (resonant with Ade

p. 30

practice) to the sacrificer from numerous dangers ... . ... As the bosomfowo circled the dance in their adewuwo, they perioditcally stopped to sing the ritually charged songs of ase ... . ... The word ase itself, probably borrowed from the Yoruba language, points to spiritual energy".

pp. 28-9 lion-god Kunde

p. 28

"Kunde, ... is considered to be an adela, a hunter, and often

p. 29

depicted as such ..., but he is also referred to as a lion ... . One can often hear the drums calling out dzata gbona, "the lion is coming," a warning to his prey, in other words, those who have offended him in some way."

p. 32-4, 198 Banle’s weapon; Banle’s song and drum

p. 32

"under the watchful eyes of the ... specially appointed women who attend to the needs of the trosiwo when possessed ... [a spirit-possessed woman] ... picked up the trident that is Bangle’s spiritual weapon".

p. 33

Banle’s la~tsoha (song) : "Atsidze`, atsidze` Diamlo".

p. 198, n. 1:35

"Diamlo ... is derived from the Twi word d.iamlo, meaning cooked food. ... atsidze` might be a Fante word meaning "Can challenge me.""

p. 34

Banle’s "music is that of agbadza ..., the classic ... drum of the Ewe. In the olden days, when it was known as atrikpui, it was performed only on the outskirts of the village".

p. 34 colloquy among multiple Banle-s

"when ... possessed ... She joined three or four other trosiwo who were already manifesting Bangle, which ... always struck me as a bit strange, especially when the various Bangles would engage each other in conversation."

{Evidently, the term /Banle/ must designate a category of deities, rather than merely one specific deity.}


Steven M. Friedson : Remains of Ritual. U of Chicago Pr, 2009.