4 min readTHE CONCEPT AND MEANING OF YEWEH (YEƲE)NAMES AMONG EWES IN BENIN, TOGO AND SOUTHERN VOLTA REGION.

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Yeweh (Yeʋe) is the god of Thunder and Lightning among the Ewe speaking people of Togo, Benin, and in south-eastern parts of the Volta Region. Yeweh is a very exclusive cult and its music is one of the most developed forms of sacred music in Eweland.
When we were growing up in southern Volta communities in the early 1960s and 1970s, giving of Yeweh names was characteristic of most southern Ewe people on religious grounds. Yeweh fraternity is an institution of cultural heritage among the worshippers of the god of Thunder and Lightning. Initiates were put in seclusion and outdoored by Priests known as Midawos (equivalent to modern day Bishops and Archbishops) and Minawos, the female counterparts of male Priests of the Yeweh fraternity, after under going tuition and orientation in the virtues and philosophy of life, norms and values of society, ethical standards, moral codes and discipline. The initiation, acceptance and use of Yeweh names are disappearing because of their rejection and stigmatisation by western civilisation, education and Christianity. When Europeans first visited most parts of Africa, partly West Africa, including Benin, Togo and Southern Volta, they realised the education and moral training was profound. This was largely due to the influence of the god of Thunder and Lightning, whose adherents were people of high moral integrity, because of the instant justice orientation of the god of Thunder and Lightning.

In fact, Lord Macaulay is reported to have said on 2nd February 1835: “

I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa, and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good, and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.

Very interesting testimony by Lord Macaulay to the superiority of the African education and moral standards. Consequently, the plan was to demonise, stigmatise and rubbish everything and anything African, our values, our cultural heritage with the introduction of Christianity and western education.

It may be instructive to take a look at some of these names. We present some of these Yeweh names. An attempt has also been made to interprete some of the names.

MALE (HUSUNU)

  1. Agbo, literally means a ram, ie a male sheep. But in Yeweh nomenclature, Agbo means the gate or sacrificial lamb.
  2. Agbodzi means “upon the gate ” or “on top of the ram”. Agbo represents the spiritual sanctity and power of Yeweh in sacrifice.
  3. Agbodzihu ,means the mystery of the gatekeeper of Yeweh, the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  4. Agbolete, means a sacrifice that is worthy and acceptable to Yeweh. During Yeweh Festivals, sacrifices must be pure, wholesome and acceptable to Yeweh, the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  5. Agbomadzi, means the ram that was not born. This refers to the immortality of the concept of “Agbo” as the gatekeeper of the powers and integrity of Yeweh.
  6. Dafliso, like all the Yeweh names starting with ‘Da’ ie the ‘serpent’, symbolises the concept of duality of death and reincarnation. The serpent represents ingenuity and craftiness and symbolises mystery of duality of good and evil. Dafliso, means the serpent has plugged thunder.
  7. Dawuso, means the spirit of the serpent is greater than thunder. That is to say, being wise is more important than being strong (being thunder).
  8. Humali, means inability to establish mystery of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  9. Husunu, means disciple of the mysteries of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  10. Huzey, means the mystery pot of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  11. Kadzabohoe, means, the god of Bees has destroyed it.
  12. Kadzawuso, means the god of Bees, is greater than the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  13. Miheso, means extend the powers of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  14. Mishiehu, means fear the mysteries of the gods.
  15. Mishieso, means fear the power and mystery of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  16. Sofehu, means the god of Thunder and Lightning has demystified mystery.
  17. Somabe, means you cannot hide yourself from the power of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  18. Shitor, means the custodian of the mystery of Yeweh, the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  19. Sogboshie, means the custodian of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  20. Sofeda, means the serpent of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  21. Soletey, means the god of Thunder and Lightning is powerful.
  22. Sowada, the god of Thunder and Lightning is ferocious.
  23. Sowu, means the god of Thunder and Lightning is supreme.
  24. Sowubo, means the god of Thunder and Lightning is more powerful than a charm or juju.

FEMALE (YEWESHIE)

  1. Agbowugbe, means the day of atonement and sacrifice, ie, the day for slaughtering the sacrificial lamb.
  2. Dadolo, means the serpent has come out with a proverb.
  3. Dadzengor, means the serpent has taken the lead.
  4. Dalike, means the serpent has established itself as a force to reckon with.
  5. Dashie, means the wife/disciple of the serpent.
  6. Gbedah
  7. Hudzengor, means mystery of the god of Thunder and Lightning has taken the lead.
  8. Hufordzi, means in accordance with the mission of the mysteries of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  9. Hugbedzi, means in accordance with the voice of the mysteries of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  10. Hunexoe, means let the mysteries of the god of Thunder and Lightning accept it.
  11. Hushie, means the wife/disciple of the mysteries of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  12. Hutoelor, means the mysteries of the god of Thunder and Lightning have agreed.
  13. Hutorde, means where is the custodian of the god of Thunder and Lightning?
  14. Kadzashie, means the custodian/disciple of the god of Bees.
  15. Sodalor, means the god of Thunder and Lightning has extended its tentacles.
  16. Sodolo, means the god of Thunder and Lightning has given a proverb/mystery.
  17. Sodeshime, means in the hands of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  18. Sodzinyade, means the god of Thunder and Lightning has provoked controversy.
  19. Sogbedzi, means in accordance with the voice of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  20. Sonexoe, means let the god of Thunder and Lightning accept it.
  21. Sotoelor, means the god of Thunder and Lightning has agreed.
  22. Sotorwogbe, means the voice of the god of Thunder and Lightning.
  23. Sotsimede, means where is the spectre and authority of the god of Thunder and Lightning?

Compiled by: Simon Amegashie-Viglo.

Source: www.rymcitigh.com

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