THE CULTURAL GROUP WITHIN THE EWE CANADIAN CULTURE ORGANIZATION OF ONTARIO
Written by: Anthony Yao Dogbe
The history of the Ewe people could not be completely told or more so recorded if the folklore is not mentioned; the dance and drumming of the Ewe people is the lifeline or the mainstream of all activities. Advice is often provided in singing, dancing and drumming, which is may be called Hakpanyawo. Thus Akpalu the great of old could compete and give Shakespeare a run for his game any given time; were he born in England; comparing his local background without any training and the materials he produced.
It was not a secret that when ECCOO was to be reorganized it started through the culture (noting also that the last day of the old association was around culture and the drums.)
In about 1989 shortly after the former association ceased to exist; few dedicated individuals that have cultural desires and interest contributed enough funds; planned and ordered drums and the needed culture materials from the homeland Ghana and with the assistance of Dzuazah Matthew who seek permission from his place of work and allocated a practice venue on Madison Avenue in downtown Toronto; the rest was the re-birth of the Ewe Dance Ensemble.
For many reasons; more so; may be because of the zeal and strong will of the then starting members in general as few as they were; and of the dedicated individuals, not to fail self and to prove the independence and ability that there is success in anything that dedicated people strongly put interest in; and many more, at that time; most if not all of the women of the association; one reason also probably because they were all that time very active energetic and vigorous ( one can only imagine their other untold activities of strengths) not sidelining the men of that era too totally participated in the culture.
The pace and the foundation of the dance ensemble was strongly established few years ago when the late Mr. Agbleli then of the Ghana Dance Ensembles was invited to make a stopover in one his U.S. tours; he taught and planted the desire and act of drumming and dancing in those valuable student of then. His graduates were Sammy Hodzi (now Togbe Dunyo), Fogah Amegah, Kofi Nfodzo, Cornelius Vormaworh, Agnes Gaze, Lucy Fiadzinu, Beatrice Amenyo, Irene Atabuatsi and Alice Darkeh dancing and drummers like Mathew Dzuazah, George Assigbe, Eklou Semenya, Simon Adzraku, Rapheal Fiadzinu Justice Afagenoo and Michel Mensah.
The dance group was introduced to public performances at the Carassauga festival by Sly Amegah, who also led the group to the United Way Walkerton and the Black Festival at the Harbour front.
A contract was negotiated with Dancing Hands of Milton to teach and interact with a group of young disabled children that are deaf. This contract lasted about a whole year and was very educative and profitable to the group.
The development of the group was added to by the teachings of former members of the Ghana Dance Ensemble – Dominic Donkor and Prosper Adjetey of Montreal. Dominica and Prosper also enhanced the Ewe Dance Ensemble’s performances at Carassauga and Black History Month by dancing and drumming with the group and performing individually and as a pair.
At all the performances, the performers wore beautiful costumes that were designed and sewn by some of the women members of the association such as Tina Semenya, Mercy Amegah and Theresa Mensah. Many outings were contracted by members of the group the like of Shaw Festival in Chatham, Ontario and the Ghana Independence and Award giving by an outsider Lawrence Mante. The group became very popular with many outings at such public performances at outdoorings, funerals, birthdays and many such public activities.
As the group became very active and mature the young generation of the association accepted the relay and in fact took the dance group to a height may be no one could have dreamed of. It was this same time that members such as Celestine Zotoo and Albert Otoo also provided their cultural knowledge by teaching the young ones many beautiful dances that are still performed this day. (Fume fume fu flu) Togbe Dunyo with his great talents was able to more perfect and much beauty to the dances started by Mr. Agbeli. It must be recalled that Mr. Vormaworh was the one that introduced and teach the dancers the youthful dance of gotah. With the teachers are also singers and drummers, the like of Elizabeth Lumor, Fidelia Ddzuazah, Lucy Fiadzinu, and drummers like Kuesi Amegah and Passy Amegah.
The young dancers at that time were Christiana Lumor, Mod Darkeh, Akua Mensah, Bessi Semenya, Esie Mensah, Afie Mensah, Ameley Mensah, Abby Amegah, Passy Amegah, Kobi (Eddie) Amegah, Kobi Amegah, Delali Gbeklui, Justine Dogbe, Elinam Amegah, Rosette Amegah, and Euginie Amegah. All of these children were assisted by older members of the group who performed along with them.
The active interest in the younger members of the group showed contributed to their growth within the organization, enriched their bonds and friendships with their peers and was a concerted effort by concerned parents to have their children staying out of trouble.
The cultural performances cemented the organization, brought a sense of community that shared activity bred, allowed the sense of extended family to develop for many whose immediate family were many thousands of miles away and most importantly maintained and instilled in the young the dance and drum traditions that we transplanted Canadian Ewes grew up with in the village.
This article has been written by Anthony Yao Dogbe using his personal recollections without the aid of many past records or information to research from; any omission or deletions were not intentional. Those of us in the group with less memory recovery would like to sincerely thank Anthony for his efforts to keep our cultural history alive.
The Dance Ensemble is available to perform at your wedding, out-dooring, birthday and other special individual and or corporate event: To book them please call:
Togbe Gordor – tel:416-854-8063
Ms. Abby Amegah – tel:416-294-5584