Adzewa Audio and Video Selections

Audio Selection:

The group heard in this selection is attached to the Kyirem No. 6 asafo company of Anomabu, whose asafoakyere is Ama Sektiwah. It is, I believe, the only active adzewa group in Anomabu, and it has been in existence for over one hundred years. There is only one drum in this ensemble, so the musical texture of this type of music is not as polyrhythmically rich as is the case with many other Fante genres. Two time-keeping patterns are present: a simple one performed in unison on gourd rattles by several group members, and a more asymmetrical pattern performed on a metal percussion plaque by a single performer.

Texts / Translations for the Songs Heard on the Audio Example:

Yee ogya Kwesi Bentum.
[Ohia ye wu.]

Poverty is killing Kwesi Bentum.
[Poverty is killing.]

Yehu no daa, Ohia ye wu.
[Amandzehun yehu no daa.]

[We are continuously in the grip of poverty and suffering.]

Video Selections:

The first video selection, made at a recording session, begins with the asafoakyere pouring a libation to the ancestors to ask for their support. Although adzewa groups are female organizations, it can be seen in this clip that the drummer is a male–Fante women, indeed Akan women in general, are prohibited from drumming, so a male member of the associated asafo company is enlisted. I never found out why the second male, seen in this clip singing and playing a danka, was involved in the performance.

The second selection was taken during the funeral for Mr. K. B. Annan, a successful construction contractor and an officer in the Kyirem No. 6 asafo company of Anomabu. While the deceased’s employees follow the hearse in trucks with their horns blaring, on foot alongside the hearse is the adzewa group the members of which sporadically burst into a brief episodes of performance.

Performance Forces:

asow metal percussion plaque, struck with metal rod; time-keeping instrument
danka gourd rattle with external net of beads, shaken or stamped against an open hand; time-keeping instrument
ampaa single-headed tubular drum, goblet-shaped, struck with both hands; rhythmic instrument
cantor female
chorus female (although one male participated), approximately fifteen

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