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Saturday, December 1, 2012

West African Ewe Names & Ewe Songs By Sessime & By Godonu

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents general information about Ewe* naming traditions & showcases two songs by Sessimè (Benin, West Africa) and two songs by Godonu Kofi Srigboh [Egbeviwo](Ghana, West Africa) whose artists names & song titles reflect those traditions.**

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Update: December 2, 2012:
*"Ewe" is pronounced like "e-vhay" in English.
** I was informed by Godonu Kofi Srigboh [Egbeviwo] that the song title "Wazakoua" that is given as Example #1 in this post is an Ewe word and not a person's name.

Additions & corrections to this post are welcome.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT EWE NAMING TRADITIONS
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewe_people
"The Ewe are divided geographically between western part of Benin (formerly Dahomey), Togo (southern), and south-eastern parts of the Volta Region in Ghana...

The Ewe (Eʋeawo) have names with significant meanings which either portray the spirituality of the parents or the circumstances in which the child was born. Generally, most of the names are unisex. For example:
Agbenyega = Life is great (If you have life you have everything)
Akpenε = Thank thee
Dzigbɔɖi = Patience
Dziɖuɖu = Victory
Mawuli = God exists
Mawuko = Except God (Only God)
Senyo = God is Good
Selɔm = Destiny loves me
Senyo = God is Good
Senanu = It is the destiny that gives

...Additionally the Ewe use a system of giving the first name of a child as the day of the week that the child was born. This arises from a belief that the real name of a child can only be determined after the child has shown its character. However, as a child is a person, not an object, the child must be referred to by some name in the interim, so a name is provided based on the day of birth. A final name is given at a naming ceremony, seven days after the date of birth."
-snip-
Click the link given above for a chart of Ewe day names & for additional Ewe naming customs. These Ewe day names appear to me to be the same as the Akan day names. For example: "Kofi"-male born on Friday, and "Afi" - female born on Friday.

The short list of Ewe names given above demonstrates the heavy influence of religious beliefs on the formation of names.

Here are some comments about Ewe religious beliefs from that same Wikipedia page:
"Ewe religion is organized around a creator/creatress deity, Mawu and Lisa. Mawu and Lisa (Goddess and God) to the Ewe is the Supreme Being and is remote from daily affairs. In addition the Ewe believe in many secondary gods (trowo) that are worshipped in unique ways. They also believe in spirit ancestors and divination is practised. Se is a word for law, order and harmony; Se is the maker and keeper of human souls; in an abstract sense, Se is destiny. Ewe people can also be Christians or Muslim."

FEATURED EXAMPLES
Example #1: Sessimè - Wazakoua (What a World We Are Living In)



Sessimevideos, Uploaded on Feb 23, 2012
Sessimè: Afro pop rock de Bénin (West-Africa)...
-snip-
I reformatted the words "Afropoprock" that was given in the video summary.

SONG LYRICS (from English subtitles given on the screen)
I have seen!
Children crying,
Because they have not anything to eat!
I have seen!
Babies without cradle
devoured by mosquitoes!
I have seen newborns
abandoned,
thrown on a pile of garbage!
I have seen, Of* school children,
with total indifference. **
And I asked old wise men
who told me: this goes life! ***
GOD created a perfect world
and men have destroyed!
That’s why millions of children suffer.

[Instrumental]

I have seen!
Newborns, abandoned,
thrown on a pile of garbage!
I have seen, Of* school children,
with total indifference. **
And I asked old wise men
who told me: this goes life! ***

GOD created a perfect world
and men have destroyed!
That’s why millions of children suffer.
And I asked old wise men
who told me: this goes life!
GOD created a perfect world
and men have destroyed!
That’s why millions of children suffer
GOD created a perfect world
and men have destroyed!
That’s why millions of children suffer.

koyi!
Awo!
koyi!

Waoh oh oh yelei yeh ah oh
Waoh oh oh yelei yeh ah oh
Wazakoua koua ah ah
Wazakoua koua ah ah

Waoh oh oh yelei yeh ah oh
Waoh oh oh yelei yeh ah oh
Wazakoua koua ah ah
Wazakoua koua ah ah
Awo!
Wazakoua koua ah ah
Wazakoua koua ah ah
Wazakoua koua ah ah
Wazakoua koua ah ah
Awo!
koyi!
Awo!
koyi!
Awo!
koyi!
-snip-
* I think that the English translation of this line would be better without the word "Of".
**I think that this means "with total indifference to learning".
***On this video's viewer comment thread, Ghanaian Ewe performer Egbeviwo (Godonou Kofi Srigboh) translated this line as "life goes like this". Another way to say this in American English is "This is the way life is" or maybe also "Such is life."

Thanks to Godonu for responding to my emailed questions regarding the meaning of these Ewe words & phrases that are used in this song:

"Wazakoua" means "What a World We Are Living In".
In the Ewe language Se means Fate. Sessime is her name and it means "Fate", "Destiny" or "In Thee lie my fate, destiny." Another version is "Asiwome" – "In thy hands", which is the title of one of my songs on YouTube. Another version would be "Mawusi". ("Atasi" or "Tatasi")

These are emotional expressions of a sad situation:
"Waoh oh oh yelei yeh ah oh"
"Wazakoua koua ah ah"
"Awo!"
"koyi"

****
Example #2: MAYAVIO by Sessimè



Sessimevideos, Uploaded on Oct 21, 2011
Sessimè: Afro pop rock de Bénin (West-Africa)
-snip-
Here is a English translation of the meaning of this song title and the French summary for this video (My thanks to Godonu for this translation!)
"Mayavio" means "Don't Give Up". It’s an incentive not to give up when things goes wrong. It’s more about finding within you the path of success, because the decision depends on oneself and one’s willingness to succeed. We’re alone, the only real
masters of our destiny and we are the only one that can change it either positively or negatively.
-snip-
The lyrics in French are provided with this video summary at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yALWFgn1em4&playnext=1&list=PLP2mRSTjJv_0ONE9jw_QPNBaaVxzgfkv-&feature=results_video
****
Example #3: Godonu - Asiwome (In Thy Hands)



Egbeviwo, Uploaded on Jul 1, 2009

Godonu is a composer, singer and producer. Godonu's music is a blend of the varied rhythms of Ewe traditional drumming such as Agbadza, Akpalu, Akpese, Bɔbɔbɔ, Gahu, Kantata, Kinka to name a few.

Visit my website at http://www.egbeviwo.com
-snip-
My thanks to Godonu for sharing with me via email that another way of saying "Asiwome" is "Sessime" and that "Sessime" means "Fate", "Destiny" or "In Thee lie my fate, destiny".

I gather from this information that "Asiwome" (In Thy Hands") is a shortened form of "My fate/destiny is in God's hands".

Here's information about the name "Godonu" that I received via email from that Ghanaian vocalist/musician:
"Godonu" has 3 meanings depending on its tonal pronunciation because Ewe is a tonal language. The meanings are:
1. This world is a round place and all you have to do is your best and leave the rest.
2. Whatever cloth you have, will be what you wear.
3. What you see is what you get.

****
Example #3: Godonu Kofi Srigboh [Egbeviwo] - DZIGBƆÐI (PATIENCE)



Egbeviwo, Uploaded on Aug 22, 2010

Godonu is a composer, singer and producer. Godonu's music is a blend of the varied rhythms of Ewe traditional drumming such as Agbadza, Akpalu, Akpese, Bɔbɔbɔ, Gahu, Kantata, Kinka to name a few.

Visit my website at http://www.egbeviwo.com
-snip-
Here's information that I received via email from Gondonu regarding the meaning of the word "Egbeviwo"- "Egbeviwo" means "The new generation".

****
RELATED LINK
http://www.mamiwata.com/names.html Bestowing Of Names In Ewe Culture
****
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
Thanks to these performers for these creative & inspirational compositions. Thanks also to the authors of the information about Ewe culture which is included in this post.

Finally, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

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