This is for anybody who wanna know much about EWES and their origins. Are they from Israel or Mesopotamia or they emerged from Nigeria as aboriginal people of West Africa? Let us find out from historical evidence based on archaeology, oral traditions and material culture. The main reference shall be the journal article of Nii Otokunor Quarcoopome published in the 1993 edition of The African Archaeological Review, Vol. 11 entitled “Notse’s Ancient Kingship: Some Archaeological and Art-Historical Considerations.”
Origins of Ewe (PART I)
The origin of Ewes is one of the most contentious in history as various interest groups (Pan-Ewe movement, missionaries and modern scholars) have all tried to invent traditions of origins based on myth, religious doctrines and or both. The early Ewe christian scholars tries to start Ewe migration from Mesopotamia and even tried to make a pompous condescending claims that Ewes were black Jews/Israelites. It is just like how other historian/anthropologists like C C Reindorf or J B Danquah tried to link the Gamɛi (Ga people) and the Akans to Mesopotamia/Israel through some funny concoction of facts to invent traditions of origins.
The modern day evidence from all the sub-ethnic groups that made up Ewe people, shows that they migrated from three source to Ghana. These are Notsie, Tado and Ketu. However, for the purposes of the larger claim of Ewes from Notsie over the other two, Anlo oral traditions pertaining to the origins of their kingship, as recorded by Mamattah (1976), for example, assert that Togbe Sri I, a son of Agorkoli I, took the original stool of Notse to Anloga in south-eastern Ghana. I shall proceed to deal with Notsie.
Origins of Ewes from Notsie under great King Agorkoli is well known so I would move quickly to trace where the Ewes came from to settle in Notsie. This will debunk the great lie that has been fed to people that Ewes came from Israel. (Note: Akans, Ga, Igbo, Kikuyu, Lemba and others tow similar Israel origins lies without any historical evidence).
The unchanged oral traditions of Notsie Kings (xomefia or King of the room) about their origins claim that they were led to settle at their present location in Togo under their leader, Manyame. They oral traditions claim that their ancestors migrated from Ayo (Oyo in Nigeria) to Ketu in the Republic of Benin. After settling briefly at Ketu they moved on under one Eda or Da via Aja-Tado to their present homeland at Notsie. King Eda is credited with founding the dynasty and building of the first royal palace in the royal quarter, Dakpodzi. ecause of its ancestral association with Eda, this monarchy boasts an esteemed pedigree, reaching back to about the sixteenth century.
Alternating the office between the two principal clans, Ekli and Agbaladome, at least thirteen kings have succeeded Eda – they were Dakpo, Agor, Koli (Agor’s son who later became known as Agorkoli I), Srukpe, Akpafo, Tige, Kpobedze, Agbodovi, Alokor, Agbatsodenu, Adzayeto, Tsevi Adzayeto, and Alijinou Afedo. It is this genealogical charter that validates the authority of these kings. .
Notsie Kings have ancestral relics and other sacred regalia in a shrine-like chamber and these objects included several hats (dzagba), wooden stools (zikpui), a pair of leather sandals (malefokpa), and a carved wooden staff (atikplo). In addition, a war drum (agblowu) and war sword (guwi) suggest that the kings of Notse also had military functions even though we have no indication that they went to war. I shall use these regalia`s to show the Nigerian origins of Ewes, as opposed to the invented history of Israel/Jewish origins of Ewes, Here are the facts:
Leopard-claw facial marks (scarifications)
In Notsie a newly installed king is spotted with new facial markings or decorations, akaba. It marked at the completion of the fia`s (King`s) seclusion that supposedly endowed him with a new persona so profoundly unique that he could no longer be faced by an ordinary person. The king was hailed with this verse, ‘Togbuiwo me do loo! tro megbe doii’ (Ancestors, I have sworn an oath! Turn your back against it).
This exclamation was uttered by those present as their backs were turned to the king. The akaba could be three vertical marks incised with claws of leopard (ekpo or kpo ot what. Gayibor, 1985:339, called togbaze) is performed by royal facial marking specialists, fiakota. The other type of akaba consists of an incised diagonal mark on one cheek, right side. The locations of permanent akaba on the cheeks recall depictions of human faces with similar markings on Yoruba royal beaded crowns. The fact that the latter forms also have veils to shield the face of their wearers suggests philosophical parallels with the Dangme and Ewe traditions.
The newly installed king of Notsie receives a bracelet made from blue (gbleti), black (esoe), and earth-coloured coral (pazi) beads. Esoe are the black seeds of the liana plant that is widely used in religious ornament among some Ewe and Dangme peoples. Gbleti, considered the oldest of the three, is a blue glass bead. The political use of bead bracelets recalls a similar convention widespread among southern Nigerian cultures.
This distribution confirms to a limited extent the historical links between Notsie and the Yoruba among whom blue glass beads are traditionally associated with priest-kings. The multiple contextual associations of gbleti beads, particularly their social meanings, provide insights into the evolution of patterns of development of sacred kingship. se beads to an eastern source raises interesting historical issues. In fact, the blue glass beads is historically traced to Ile Ife as far back as AD 800. Crucibles with traces of blue substances recovered from excavations at the sites of Ita Yemoo, Orun Oba Ado, and Olokun Grove also suggest that an industry of a sort previously existed for bead making at Ife (Willett 1977:22; Shaw 1978:146, 151).
Staff of the chief
The name of staff the Ewe chief holds in Notsie is atikplo. The term atikplo is an abbreviation of ati-kplo-ame or ati-kplame, meaning literally ‘the stick that leads people’, and t is required by custom to remain indoors most of the time, the king could only send his atikplo with his messenger (the atikploe) to summon people. The staff symbolizes fundamental politico-jural authority. This shows Nigerian migration pattern of Ewes, as Nigerian ethnic similar staff: Thus Edo have uxurhe; Idoma, Igbira, and Igala also have okwute; and ndi-Igbo have the ofo (see Boston 1968; Armstrong 1985; Ben-Amos 1980; Onwuejeogwu 1981)
Among the important insignia the king received at his installation was a king’s hat called dzegba or dzagba. It is different from the imported one the Ewegbetor (an Ewe) call fiakuku.The other headgear most revered among the Notsie is the dzakpa. Evidence from Nigeria among the Yoruba and Kabali groups shows wearing of similar hats, for instance, King Jaja of Opobo was known for wearing similar hats.
Mamattah, C. M. K. (1976). The Ewes of West Africa, 1: The Anlo Ewes and their immediate neighbors. Accra: Advent Press.
Quarcoopome, N. O. (1993). Notse’s ancient kingship: some archaeological and art-historical considerations. African Archaeological Review, 11(1), 109-128.
Gayibor, N. L. (1985). L’Aire culturelle Ajatado des origines ? la fin du XVIIIe si?cle. These du Doctorat, Universit? de Paris, Paris.
Willett, F. (1967). Ife in the History of West African Sculpture. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Willett, F. (1977). Baubles, Bangles and Beads: trade contacts of medieval Ife. Edinburgh: The Centre for African Studies, Edinburgh University
Kweku Darko Ankrah