Where Divine Horsemen Ride

in Remains of Ritual

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780226265049
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226265063 | DOI:
Where Divine Horsemen Ride

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The coastal plains of the Volta Region are one of the poorest areas of Ghana. In Brekete shrines of West Africa, ancient rhythms move bodies in spectacular ways. The power of repetition, inscribed in a soundscape of welcome and praise, calls northern gods to possess their devotees. These divine horsemen, so goes the trope, ride their mounts. In the blink of an eye a person can become seized. Captured by their capacity to be taken, they are no longer aware of their bodily existence, for they are no longer themselves. It is not they who dance, but Kunde the hunter, or Ablewa his wife, Sanya the firstborn, or Bangle the soldier. Embodiments of virtuosity, these gods are virtuosos of being-there. The Ewe people, like many Africans, have a different take on what we would consider aleatory events. Northern drums playing within the context of a southern style is consistently cited by Ewes as one of the main reasons for the success of the Brekete shrine.

Keywords: Volta Region; Ghana; Brekete shrine; gods; drums; Ewe people; West Africa; dance; being-there; divine horsemen

Chapter.  10506 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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