sofati2Focus on SOFATI Shrine

by Dale Massiasta

In recent times, KLIKOR (1) has been identified with refugees and the so-called TROKOSI system. There is certainly a REFUGEE CAMP for displaced Togolese and many shrines devoted to solemn worship, Indeed, in one hundred and forty-six years, Klikor has been a citadel for two groups of refugees. That's history.

The Klikors themselves have been refugees of some sort, having migrated from NOTSE. In the old ADELE country (now Togo), where there is still KLIKORME, their previous home. Modern historians put the date of this migration at 1720
(2) but other historical findings indicate that the Klikors have arrived in Ghana earlier. Incidentally , the site of their first major settlement on arrival is where the Refugee Camp is!

The Klikors are a section of the EWE
(3) group of the Negroid race of Africa now settled in the SOUTH-EASTERN tip of Ghana in the Ketu and Keta Districts of the Volta Region. They are farmers, fishermen, KETEH weavers and traders. Cassava and maize are the main cash and food crops cultivated. The fishermen do both lagoon and sea fishing.

The Klikors are a friendly and hospitable people with unique cultural beliefs and practices. Religious beliefs and practices especially are preserved in many esoteric shrines. The TOHONO SOFATI SHRINE
(4), the subject of this focus, is just one among hundreds of sacred spots in Klikor.

This Shrine is one of the oldest in Klikor Traditional Area. Among the YEWEH (thunder-god) shrines in the
locality, is the largest and, probably, the most well organized. It, therefore, offers researchers into African culture and tourists insights into the functions and organization of indigenous institutions.

(5), a great Klikor mystic, some two hundred years ago. It houses the thunder-god, YEWEH (SO), a communal god of the Ewes. The Shrine itself presents a special feature of the structure and organization of ancient convents.

The SOFATI SHRINE is located in the western end of the older section of the Klikor township, covering some 4.000 square meters. The inner shrine contains five cone-shaped temples housing the sacred relics of the god. There are other buildings for immates under initiation and the resident priestess: MINAWO ALORWUSO ADALEKU

There are many ceremonies and rituals associated with the SOFATI SHRINE, but the major one is the annual YEWEHNUWOW0 or offerings to the god. This starts on the last FRIDAY in OCTOBER of every YEAR (which falls on a KETA MARKET-DAY
(7). This annual oblation is heralded by ritual drumming, singing, dancing, and outdooring the sacred relics of the god. The festival in which thousands of YEWEH initiates and the general public participate lasts for TWO WEEKS.

Other features make the SOFATI SHRINE a cultural museum. It preserves especially some aspects of the past architectural culture of the Ewes. In it you find a model of household life in the past., For example, this CENTER is privileged to be the recipient of a partly broken earthen palm-oil lamp used in the Shrine nearly a hundred years ago. Earthen lamps, reminiscent of the ancient Ewe household, are still the source of lighting in the Shrine.

There is also this aspect of language. Two mystic languages known as YE WEHGBE and DAGBE (thunder-god and snake-god languages respectively) are spoken by inmates of the Shrine during initiation and other ritual sessions. These languages fascinate students of language development, Their similarity to the FON and MAHI dialects of ancient DAHOMEY (now Benin) provides a good ground for studies into the origins of the TOHONO cult so popular in the Republic of Benin.

The SOFATI SHRINE is open to visitors who may call in for prayers, for information and for acquaintance with the functions of the Shrine. Visitors may be allowed to speak to novices under initiation (KPOKPOWO) through interpreters. The costume is strictly customary - no headgears and hats except for traditional priests and priestesses.Saturday is the most convenient day for prayers,but prayers are offerd daily.
Photographs and video picttures may be taken only on permission.
For further information,
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P.O. BOX 1

1. KLIKOR From the name of the oldest deity in the community, KLI. It mcans "in the lap of KLI"

2. See GUIDE PRATIQUE - K. Agbetiafa & Others (Haiter Limusco, Paris, 1980) pag 21

3. EWE From WE meaning "reduced". The Ewes from Ketu in ancient Benin (Dahorney ) were a "reduced group" of people after their wars of survival in "EWE" and Ketu.

4. TOHONO Attribute to th thunder-god meaning "Father, Owner of the Sky (Sun)". SOFATI Name of the resident thunder-god. From a longer appellation of the god - SO FE ATI; LAWO BE DE EME, meaning "thunder cracks a tree; animals hide in it (the crack), showing the shrine and god as a house of refuge.

5. ADALEYU Established other shrines around the SOFATI one. These include the GU (god of war and mechanics) and ADE (god of hunting) shrines. His grave is in his original hut preserved at the spot a few metres from the shrine.

6. MINAWO (MENAW0) "Our Mother (Reverend Mother)", tltle of a YEWEH priestess. The Priest is
MIDAWO (MEDAWO), "our father (Reverend Father)".

7. KETA MARKET DAY Held every foturth day.For example, 25t'h October, 1996, is a Friday and falls on a Keta Market Day. Therefore, 29th October,1996, is also a Keta Market Day;