The third annual Hogbetsotso festival was celebrated by of the Southern Ewe Association of Toronto on Saturday 7th October. It was my second time of attending with our African dance and drum troupe, Jiwani. I love Hogbetsotso first for the drum music of the Anlo Ewes dictated by the base Atsimevu in compelling dialogue with the dancers. Next I enjoy the obvious delight that Ewes have in their culture and traditions and I love the young dancers who perform the various dances.
Two of my nieces perform with this group and my cousin Gustav Quist is the Emcee. I must mention Mike who adds a lot to the performance of Misego with the natural rhythm of his movement as well as his leadership. Mike has three daughters who dance and the youngest daughter who must still be in preschool, is as amazing as the others.
The Hogbetsotso mystery is a pot cooking over a single log fire . It is a symbol of what unity can achieve. The Ewe have a long and difficult history of migrations and wars but in the end, their unity inspite of differences has made them to be one of the best knit groups accross state lines in West Africa. Hogbetsotso celebrates the escape of the Anlo Ewes from the wicked King Agokli of Notsie.
I must also complement the well designed costumes of the dancers. For this festival, we were honoured by the attendance of Ewe chieftains in our midst from Toronto as well as from the U.S.A. We were also happy to receive the honourable Jake Obetsebi- Lamptey, minister of tourism and diasporan affairs of the Republic of Ghana.
What could make the colourful Hogbetsotso better?
1. A definite effort to start on time whether the hall is full or not.
2.Perhaps an afternoon festival instead of a night festival to ensure that families can attend.
3.One suggestion from my point of view is to teach the youth and particularly the girls not only to dance but also to drum.
Here's a poem by Adwoa Badoe
The Drums of Africa
Poly-rhythms of our drum songs
Imbued with healing energies,
Replacing splintered soul
By specific slap-base-tone
Combinations of palm, stick, finger
Against leather of camel,
Goat or zebu oxen
On carved lenke hardwood shell
Wood will not sing and neither will skin
Unless the drum master calls out the tunes
By ancestral ear preserved
Deep in the forest
Where spirits drink palm wine
The rhythm is in my backbone,
I conceive it in my womb
I twist and turn and shake and make
When I hear the songs of Africa,
They call to me by name
When I hear the drums of Africa
They beat, they beat for me
I’m healed, I say
I’m healed again
Will drums alone save us?