Vihehedego naming ceremony attracts foreigners

BY: Nii Martey M. Botchway and Laud Halm Quartey
It was dance time as Mr Wright (middle), and his colleagues try the Agbadza dance.

A naming ceremony among the Ewes in the Volta Region is gradually gaining momentum and popularity among the indigenes and some foreigners.The vihehedego usually attracts foreigners from Jamaica and other African-American countries.

Over the last 15 years, these visitors have adopted Torgorme, the village that the ceremony takes place, as their home.
Vihehedego rite

Like most ceremonies, vihehedego is a rite performed on the eighth day after a child is born, and it is held in the morning where an elderly person of good moral standing is chosen to perform the rites.

Libation is offered while the child's name is being mentioned simultaneously.

Water is sprinkled on the named child, after which the child is given water and alcohol to taste.

That, according to tradition, is to enable the child to know the difference between good and evil.

The child is given a name, according to the clan group the parents serve in.

This is because each clan has its own names for its members, while other names can be given, depending on the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child.

The ceremony ends with a feast and merry making.

Interest  of foreigners

Some members of the group applauding to express their appreciation

For the people of Torgorme in the North Tongu District in the Volta Region, the practice goes beyond the usual naming ceremony and merry making.

The foreigners, who usually go to the community as visitors, tend to take part in the ceremony, where they are given local Ewe names as a result.

The people of Torgorme take these visitors, who they refer to as their children, through an experience of a unique kind where they are made to understand and have a feel of the traditional occupation of the indigenes which includes pottery making, kente weaving and fishing.

These experiences were relived last Saturday as the elders and people of Torgorme hosted 30 visitors, most of whom were students and alumni of the Savanah State University in Georgia in the United States of America (USA), to partake in the event, amid drumming and merry making.


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The group

Clad in her regalia, the acting Queenmother of the area, Mama Adokuwa and her elders, welcomed the visitors, who were ushered in with drumming and dancing by the locals.

The ceremony began with a Christian prayer after which libation was offered to evoke the presence of the Ahava, the god, who according to the elders of Torgorme, guided them to their present land from Notsie.

The process and significance of naming a child, according to the Ewe tradition, was duly explained to them.

However, theirs was quite different from the norm.

Unlike the traditional way of conducting a naming ceremony, this process had their names written on small pots that were to be presented to them.

The pots that were presented to them had their names written on them.

An elder of the community calls them out individually where they are given names that coincides with the day they were born, such as Yao for a male child born on a Thursday, and a second traditional/local name.

The meaning of the names are explained to them, after which an elder or a member of the community ties beads on their wrist and hands over the pots, which have their names, to them.

Notable among the names given were Yao Hotor, which means rich man, Kwaku Mawunyega, meaning God is great, and Akosua Tugbewofia, which was translated as Beauty Queen.

After the entire process, there was drumming and merrymaking where these “new borns” joined the local folks in dancing to various tunes performed by the drummers.

An elder of Torgorme tying a bead around the wrist of the visitors


The eldest among the group, 77-year-old Tony Wright Snr., could not hide his joy from The Mirror as he raised his hand immediately after he was given his traditional name.

According to him, the experience felt like a spiritual journey he had embarked on.

 Riana Ja'Zarria, who is 16 years old and was named Akosua Akofa, proudly held on to her pot and smiled throughout.

Being the youngest among the group, Raina expressed the hope that the experience would go a long way in helping her to chart her path in life.
She indicated her intention of visiting Ghana again to experience its rich and diverse culture.

Sharing her thought with The Mirror, the leader of the group, Mrs Barbara Solomon Myers, who was visiting Ghana for the second time, said the trip had changed the narrative they had been told, and that “Love is the only language Ghana speaks, one full of light and joy unlike what had been portrayed by the West in the media.”