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Akposso origin: First story

Ancestors emerging from the bowels of the Earth
"Awou lévlé ni amè nou outi" Our ancestors emerged from the bowels of the earth: this summarizes the origins of the Akposso. Countless legendary tales, mythical characters and ancestors probably coming out of the ground, however, if traditions agree about this beginning, they don’t regarding the location of its origin. All the stories are equally elusive about the town of Agbogboli, which they believe to be the point of departure of these people.

According to popular belief, their  ancestor, called Ida, “emerged from the ground” close to a mountain in Gbohoulé, a place located about ten kilometres south-east from Tététou in the Moyen Mono district in Togo. Nowadays, Ida is worshipped by the Akposso community through the rainbow. However, the different stories regarding Ida are unclear and don’t tell us anything specific (conditions regarding apparition, characteristics and so on).

This ancestor left Gbohoulé thanks to his magical power to reappear in Agbogboli, a town situated between Mount Logboto and Mount Haito. He started out on his journey with the help of an ité (large basket of grain) when downpour hit the region. Once settled in Agbogboli, Ida had numerous descendents which gave origin to the present Akposso population. After which a long period of drought followed, a disaster invoked by Agbogbo’s rage (1) the god of rain, ministered by Ida, the high priest; being so angry about the violation of his territory by foreigners who broke rules. In particular they didn’t respect the days of rest when Agbogbo was to be honoured with sacrifices. To put a stop to this situation, which started with external forces, the ancestor left to meet the foreigners together with two of his sons (Otobi e Eto),  and realized that they were none other than the Alou of Tado (2) Ida’s journey put an end to that drought that had lasted too long. But, on his way back, the old exhausted man died, leaving his sons who, after having roamed for several years in that region of the Mono central basin, left a large number of descendents, who, in turn, found their people in the Akposso-Koubi region where they had settled after having abandoned Agbogboli.

In fact, according to these stories, the numerous sons of Ida, who remained in Agbogboli, after having been deprived of a power, able to take care of the gods of their town (principally that of god Agbogbo), they separated because they did not agree on how to face the threat of the ferocious animals which made both farming and hunting difficult far from their fortified town. But, above all, they did not agree on how to calm the rage of the gods, who were no longer served according to original rites.

This difficult life in Agbogboli was believed to be the proof that these deities, on feeling neglected, were displeased, as rituals were no longer carried out correctly.
Should the two brothers who accompanied Ida on his journey be found, or at least should they look for their descendants who might still have the secrets of the deities of Agbogboli? Would the village have to be evacuated and so they needed to find another place? In what direction? Should they simply leave to go elsewhere to avoid the threat of wild animals; or would it be better follow the signs of Ida their ancestor?

What should they do with deities that no longer guaranteed their protection? The outcome of such dilemmas, according to these stories was the dislocation of the town: that was the departure of small groups leaving in different directions at different times. Then, on facing hostile environments (density of vegetation, raids, and so forth) these different groups ended up converging towards the uplands of Kossa to build a single village (Kossa), where they migrated towards the western slopes of this mountainous relief building Akposso-Koubi. It was in this town that the Akposso discovered a new deity called Kolissa, and, thanks to her, they were always victorious in the numerous battles against the Ikowu (Akwamu), especially in the big war, following which some of them decided to leave Akposso-Koubi (3).

 

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  1. This deity gave his name to the town of Agbogboli (the expression in ikpossso means “in Agbogbo” or “within the walls of Agbogbo”)
  2. The Alou form the pré-aja settlement of Tado. Great experts in metallurgy who lived alongside the Aza, before the invasion of emigrants from the delta of the Niger settled in that area. Originally from the settlement Aa-évé (or Ajatado) in Togo,Benin and from Ghana, the historic-cultural group that N.L Gayibor calls “Ajatado cultural space” (1991: 100)
  3. The toponomy / toponymy Akposso-Koubi, is an expression twi (the Ashanti and Akwamu’ language) meaning:  “The Akposso killed many of us” (The term derives from the tragic wars the hostility of these two peoples)

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Sources:

Histoire et migration des Akposso du Sud-Ouest des Monts Togo
Dr. Komla Obuibé BASSA
MDC de  l’Université de Provence (Aix-Marseille 1)
Centre d’Etudes des Mondes Africains (CEMAf, Aix-en-Provence)

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