by: michael eli dokosi /www.blakkpepper.com/ghana
While some assume the Volta Region was the ninth region created in Ghana largely because of the number 9 tag (claimed to have arisen from the first Miss Ghana winner, Monica Amekoafia from Elavanyo, a Ewe lady who had the number 9 ID on her sash), the truth couldn’t be further away from this mistaken view.
It should be noted that today’s Volta Region constituted a portion of the former British Togoland and remains inhabited by both the Ewe and other ethnic minorities of the Guan, the Buem, the Akan, the Konkomba etc.
The present-day Volta Region has the northern section annexed to the Northern and Upper East Regions of the country while Ewe territory sweeps the southern parts although non-Ewe-speakers made of ethnic minorities such as the Guans, the Akans, the Buems, the Santrokofis, the Konkombas and the Avatimeans also call the Volta Region their homeland.
The Ewe people however are not limited to Ghana. With an estimated 6 million people, it is believed the ethnic group has inhabitants in southern Togo, southern Benin, southwest Nigeria, and south-eastern parts of the Volta Region of Ghana and Cameroon.
They are a patrilineal society governed by a hierarchal, centralized authority. Language is Ʋegbe or the Ewe language with Voodoo being its spiritual worship system although Christian and Islamic faiths have found a footing thanks to propaganda work bastardizing the Voodoo system as pagan worship.
Believe in the supreme God Mawu still abounds as is use of and several intermediate divinities.
You would think with such a rich heritage and history, the Volta Regional Museum opened in 1973 would be the depository for the collection and display of Ewe objects having scientific, historical or artistic value but I am afraid, the centre is a letdown considering the good it could have done.
When I visited the Volta regional capital Ho to execute an undertaking, I opted to visit the museum since it was my first time but I left feeling bemused wondering if as a people we even know what matters to our survival quest to concern ourselves with.
True, there are linguist staffs, state swords, stools, a few pictures of performance of puberty rites, drums, musical instruments, some maps of the Ewe state and allied maps, earthenware cooking vessels, list of colonial governors of German Togoland culled from Wikipedia page, stone relics and terracotta images but I couldn’t help feeling downcast perhaps I expected more.
To think that this museum had no information on the Ewe state coming to being, its perspective on life form and death, its founding fathers, the migration from the Oyo State of western Nigeria through Notsie to Ghana, its spirituality, its illustrious sons and daughters, its indigenous food and beverage, its procreation philosophy, marriage, birth and initiation rituals etc. was unbelievable, shocking even.
So when my curiosity compelled me to ask the elderly male attendant and his two female colleagues how this anomaly could be tolerated, his answer to the effect that I have to ask his superiors in Accra for answers since he had none summed up the hopeless situation.
And when I enquired just what sort of persons patronize the place, his answer of folks not bothering to visit except a handful of Primary and Junior High School pupils was telling.
With versions of the people of the Ewe stock descending from Jewish origins in Israel as propagated by mischievous Caucasian missionaries getting the scorn it deserves thanks to the works of Ewe folkloric writer and educationist, Rev. F. K. Fiawoo and other likeminded researchers, there is the need for knowledge depositories such as the Ho Museum to be modernised with relevant literature as well as an audio visual lab, profiles of notable Ewe people etc. to enlighten and save the perishable generation who for the most part can’t even speak the Ewe language or are too timid to claim their Ewe heritage in the midst of people.
A brief history of the Ewe people holds that Anlo leader Wenya offered his sister to the King of Tado, Adzasimadzi when faced with eviction. Kponoe was thus born to become heir to the stool but upon the death of the king, the people of Tado objected to the succession of Kponoe on grounds his mother had not been born in Tado. Tado folks once again demanded that the Anlo leave.
Kponoe seized the stool and gave it to his uncle, Wenya, denying his half-brothers, Ahafia and Gba Akoli access to the stool. Eventually the stool’s disappearance came to be known leading to an escape to Notsie.
At Notsie, Wenya proclaimed Kponoe King of the Anlo. The King of Notsie, who was called Agokoli, was friendly toward them and protected them from the people of Tado however when Agokoli died his son, Agokoli II was not kind towards the Anlos. His son even killed the son of Kponoe without cause. The Anlo demanded the head of the murderer in vengeance and this was granted.
Unknown to Agokoli II however Kponoe’s son had been restored to life by skillful Anlo healers. When the king got to know this trick, he ordered the construction of a huge thick wall around Notsie to prevent the Anlo from escaping his wrath and duly persecuted them till the Anlos devised a plan of pouring dirty laundry water at a particular section till they crushed the wall and escaped one day.
After leaving Notsie, the Anlo split up into two groups. One led by Wenya and the other by Kponoe eventually settling at Atiteti, Keta, Tegbi, Woe, Kodzi, Anyako and Alakple with Anloga as capital.
But in his haste, Kponoe had forgotten the Tado stool regarded as holding the spirits of the ancestors, who guide and guard the people. Without the stool, famine possessed the land. When mothers to Kponoe’s two sons Azimehada and Fui Agbeve were reluctant in agreeing for their sons to be sent on the perilous journey to Notsie for the stool, Kponoe’s sisters offered their sons Adeladze and Atogolo who recovered the stool with a clever ploy.
When Adeladze and Atogolo returned to Anloga with the stool, there was great rejoicing. Kponoe was so grateful that he named Adeladze heir to the stool, although he was of the Bate clan, while Kponoe was of the Adzovi clan. In this way began the Anlo tradition of sharing the stool between these two clans as recounted by researcher, Kweku Darko Ankrah in a Facebook post.
It is not in doubt that the above migration narrative is lost on many Ewes and to think that a whole museum does not possess such knowledge is worrying. While those who label themselves as Christians believe the Adam and Eve version of creation what is lost on many is that there is a Ewe version of creation as is with other ethnic groupings in the country and on the continent but which are not even known or relegated.
Still in shock mode at the Ho Museum, my curious eyes kept roving till tucked away on the reception desk I found a pamphlet in a case. When I asked what it was, it turned out to be information on an exhibition held to honour Dr. Ephraim Amu in 1988.
An illustrious son of Ewe stock, Dr. Amu is credited with playing the pioneering role of writing down Ghana’s traditional music and improving tremendously musical instruments ‘Odurugya’ and ‘Atenteben’.
He was a musicologist, researcher, composer, arranger, educationist, catechist and farmer born on 13th September 1899 at Peki-Avetile in the Volta Region.
Amu’s well known songs include (Yen Ara Asase Ni, Bonwire Kentenwene, Miva Miva, Alegbegbe and Yaanom Abibirima ee) but the Ho Museum under the management of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board could not erect a stand for this son of the Ewe soil.
Notables such as Togbui Sri, Philip Gbeho, Victor Gbeho, Rawlings, Doe Adjaho, Komla Agbeli Gbedema, even E.K Kotoka also have no representation at the museum.
The Ho Museum if it wants to be relevant, must emulate the Culture Centre in Kumasi which impressively has a museum of Ashanti history (Prempeh II Jubilee Museum), a library, a book store, a restaurant (Kentish kitchen), an excellent crafts shop and an exhibition hall.
After all the Ho Museum has the yard or space to incorporate and hold these additional functions. The Volta Regional Minister, the Ho Municipal Chief Executive, the District Chief Executive, the Assembly Members and every Ewe worth his name ought to be ashamed to have been unconcerned with the disgrace we call the Ho Museum.
If the state has failed in doing its duty, men and women of cash who call the Volta Region homeland must adopt the centre and breathe life into it lest posterity judges us all harshly.