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The Agebkors History with the Ewe People

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Jack Delaney

Essay 1

The Agebkors history with the Ewe people stems itself way back during a time where the Ewe people were repressed and driven to tragedy. A big theme I noticed when researching about the Ewe Agbekor and the culture associated around it was the theme of triumph over adversity. Before they “became” what we know them as today in West Africa, they lived elsewhere as a minority. The Ewe people were constantly being driven away by more powerful people. The Ewe people escaped this by drumming and moving to a new area off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Agbekor was derived from/inspired by the hunters’ observations of monkeys in the forest. “According to elders, the monkeys changed into human form, played drums, and danced. Others said monkeys kept their animal form as they played music and danced”(pg. 108 ). Hunters were very grounded in tradition as a result only drummed customs. This coincides with the Ewe peoples beliefs in maintaining tradition. Hunters were also believed to be spiritual leaders in the Ewe culture. Agbekor was originally conceived as war drumming. This also coincides with the Ewe people long history if suffering their music is almost like a reminder of all the tragedies the Ewe people had to endure. It's very different from how other cultures celebrate tradition and history. Musicians in the Ewe culture re almost like historians for the people that reside in their community. The drumming is not an act of war although that's how it was originally intended to be used it's a call for a moment of silence as you listen to the beats and rhythm your ancestors played and heard when they were in times of tragedy. Where as other african cultures play music for celebration and good times the Ewe people play for mourning of the past and the relief that they can now live in peace.

Going into the social correlation and how the music is played in a community we first look at how it's learned. “While most music and dance is learned through enculturation, this requires special training”.When learning to play in group you need to practice up to a year almost everyday before you can appear in public. This rigorous rule shows how serious the Ewe people take their music which reinforces the idea that their people music is a literal anthem of the past and should not be tampered with or played poorly.

“The important unit of of Ewe social life has been the extended family”(pg. 106). This further deepens the meaning of an Ewe as you can only be an Ewe if you share the lineage. They value spirituality in their culture as well. They incorporate spirituality in their music as well “If you ask an Ewe musician the source of their talent they will most likely identify the ancestor whose spirit they inherited”(pg.107). This idea of spirituality is a big component of the Ewe peoples lives. They strongly believe that after they die their soul lingers on in the spirit world and must be cared for be the living. So even after death the Ewe people are still connected even going as far as to say that even the dead are still part of their communities. Funerals are seen as celebrations as another ancestor has been trusted to watch of the people. Funerals are often accompanied by song and dance to please their dead. In the end the Ewe people and their music define and diversify their culture by putting emphasis on the importance of lineage and history as well as spirituality.

Essay 2

The Shona people reside between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. Their history is rich with achievements conducted by their ancestors. However it's also filled with war and power struggles between nations for territories. Music played a huge role for the Shona people however as there music had hidden meanings to help influence mass opinion against the white man. Out of all the culturally influential customs of the the Shona people the Mbira has to be the defining relic of what it means to be Shona. “After decades of denigration some Africans lost faith in in traditional culture, the mbira became a positive symbol for cultural identity”(pg.105).



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