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Remains of RitualNorthern Gods in a Southern Land$
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Steven M. Friedson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226265049

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226265063.001.0001

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Northern Gods

Northern Gods

Chapter:
(p.7) Northern Gods
Source:
Remains of Ritual
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226265063.003.0002

This ethnography traces Ewe ritual life across the praxis of a northern medicine shrine that came to the Volta Region in the 1920s. These strangers in a southern land were part of a larger movement of “occult economies” that flowed from the savanna regions literally in the bags of ritual entrepreneurs. Although these northern gods were strangers (their otherness a source of their power), their ways were not unfamiliar to the Ewe people. While virtually all the other northern shrines that came to Ewe country during this period eventually withered away, the Brekete shrine not only survived but flourished, becoming one of the dominant ritual scapes along the Guinea Coast. The complex movement of these northern shrines has engaged the ethnographic and historical imagination of Africanists for generations, from virtually the beginnings of anthropology in Ghana. Dance in Africa celebrates lives, commemorates death, consummates alliances, is part of the everyday lifeworld. Much else happens—sacrifice and libation, divination and prayer, sometimes even possession—when music is largely absent.

Keywords:   ethnography, Ewe people, ritual life, gods, Brekete shrine, Guinea Coast, dance, Africa, music

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