History of Ve Lukusiawo
WHO ARE VE PEOPLE?
Perhaps the most appropriate way of telling this short history of Ve is to begin, first, by posing the question, "Who are the Veawo or Ve people?" If in our attempt we are able to give a summary of whom the Eʋeawo or the Eʋe people are, then part of the answer would have been given.
We will, therefore, say that the Veawo are the people whose forebears were part of the Eʋeawo who also took part in the great exodus very many years ago from the Nile basin in East Africa across the continent to the West. According to oral tradition, the Eʋe people settled both at Kern (Amedzoƒe or Mawuƒe) and Oyo areas between the present day Nigeria and Benin (Dahome), then proceeded to Notsie in Togo directly or indirectly through Tado (Tando) where they were to stay for many years before dispersing. Today, the Eʋe people are the dominant tribe in the Volta Region of Ghana as well as Togo. Some can also be found in the Western part of Benin. They all speak the same Eʋe language with slight variations, referred to as dialects.
Currently the Ve people are located in the Hohoe District and share common boundaries with Alavanyo, Fodome, Gbefi, Gbi Dzigbe, Kudzra, Kpando, Leklebi, Liati, Logba and Tafi.
Without doubt, the most striking feature of the Ve people, just as can be found in any other group of Eʋeawo, is their peculiar dialect of the Eʋe language (Ve-gbe), of which they feel extremely proud. In this are found special expressions, proverbs, parts of speech, intonations, accents, overtones, undertones, praises, insults and abuses, innuendos, insinuations, etc. scarcely found in any other type of the Eʋe language.
Generally, the Ve people feel very proud and assume considerable self-confidence due to the role they played in Notsie as well as their past exploits in the various battlefields. But paradoxically enough, beside that pride, is some amount of humility implanted partly by virtue of the past German presence and partly due to the existing Presbyterian influence. In most cases the Ve people are very kind and this is attested to by the presence of the very many non-Ve citizens residing among them pursing their livelihood. They can however be quite ruthless when their kindness is abused. The industry and ingenuity of the Ve-born is simply admirable. No wonder the area abounds in people of many diverse vocations and professions.
These peculiar aspects of their political, social and economic activities that sum up to form their way of life are but the factors that identify them as Vʋeawo among the Eʋe people.
LIFE IN NOTSIE (GLIME)
The Vʋeawo were among other Eʋe people who arrived in Notsie, also known as Glirne, at a time believed to be around the 15th century. Oral tradition has it that various people lived in large communities in the four corners of the city. The Vʋeawo occupied part of the western side known as Agbaladome. This area was so called because it was full of "agbala" trees or "adudo" (baobab).
There used to be dynasties of chief priests who ruled Notsie, but the one remembered very well was of the Agorkoli stock. In each community of the four corners of Notsie city was a fetish of substance that ruled. These were regarded as God, so the people worshipped them faithfully.
These fetishes were:
The fetish of the Agbaladome community was Tagbami and its chief priest was Atrawlui Akpakpau, a Ve citizen. The fetish was a river god just as it still remains in present day Ve. The Tagbami fetish had an assistant, an executioner, known as Adeloglo. Its messengers were bees.
The following constituted the food of the people in Notsie: millet, bambara-nuts, groundnuts, beans and guinea corn. it is said that the guinea corn was as hard as stone, hence the name "kpe-li", meaning stone corn (guinea corn is now called aƒo).
The Veawo, who were part of Agbaladome community, were very much respected as they wielded tremendous influence. This fame derived from the fact they were among the invaluable advisers of Chief Priest Agorkoli and the Notsie city as a whole. One of the famous elder citizens wasAdzamela. It was this important role played by the Ve people that earned them the name "Veawo" (wohawovea) meaning, their type is scarce.
THE ESCAPE FROM NOTSIE
Chief priest Agorkoli, who was the ruler of Glime, died and was succeeded by another Agorkoli. It is said that unlike the former chief, this ruler was very wicked and unpopular. On one occasion, he commanded his people to mix mud for building houses with sharp edged objects like broken pots, earthenware, etc; meanwhile, feet were used in mixing the mud. On another occasion, as a kind of punishment, he told his people to weave ropes with clay. An elder, who was hidden by the people of Ve after his order to kill all elderly people, advised the Ve people to demand from Chief Priest Agokorli an example of such a rope so that they could continue its weaving (ka xoxoa nue wogbia yeyea doa). The Agbogbo fetish also became troublesome. As a result, deaths became very common in the Agbome (gate) area of Glime which was the quarters of Agorkoli. For this reason, some residents of the area had to sneak out at night and join their relatives, Veawo, at Agbaladome. These people were the forebears of some of th.e Ve-Agbome citizens of today.
Tradition has it that the fetish priest of Tagbami became possessed one day and promised some residents of Agbaladome, in the west, that it would help them to escape from Notsie Glime to free them from the ordeals ofAgorkoli. Atrawlui Akpakpau, the chief priest of Tagbami; therefore led Adzarnela and a few others to a portion of the Notsie wall and advised that it should be kept wet with every kind of household waste water. The residents complied with the instruction. The wall was inspected one day by the Chief Priest of Tagbami and Adzamele. On satisfying themselves that the wall was soft enough, they set a date and advised the people of Agbaladome to drum and dance to their popular entert.airunent music known as Amezo.
This was done during moon-light. While the music was going on, Atrawlui Akpakpau took a sickle-like stone (kpernla) which was said to have been given to him by God, and invited Akpana Dzekpakpa, the priest of the Logba fetish known as Nkumane. Both of them went to the wall. Atrawlui Akpakpau prayed with corn wine (liha) to Tagbami after which Akpana Dzekpakpa also prayed to Nkumane. Thereupon Atrawlui Akpakpau proceeded to dig a hole in the wall with the sickle-like stone until it emerged on the other side, This done, both fetish priests pushed the wall until it fell. The music makers and other people of Agbaladoine were then informed to escape. Thus began the escape from the tyranny of Agorkoli later to be known as the great migration of the Eueawo from the wall of Notsie.
JOURNEY TO THE UNKNOWN
Naturally, the great migration by the people of Agbaladome started towards the west. According to Ve oral tradition, the escape wcnt in the following order: Firstly, Tagbami's messengers, the bees, came out. They were followed by Nkurnane, the fetish of Logba, which was known to shine like light. It thus provided the needed light to the bees. Next came the more powerful priest, Chief Priest Atrawlui Akpakpau and Tagbmi's children, the Veawo. They were followed by the Priest Akpana Dzekpakpa and his children. It is said that the rest who followed were: Agomeawo, Agu Nyorgboawo, Laveawo, Hanyigbawo, Haveawo, Nyiveawo, Voloveawo, Gbanaveawo, Vakpoawo, Santrokofiawo, Kpoetawo, Kpe-Eleawo, Ahloawo, To-Kpalimeawo and Torveawo.
On their way, Akpana Dzekpakpa, the Logba fetish priest, led by creating a path-way through the bush (enoa alogbeawo gbam). This is in line with Eue tradition, where the child clears the path for his father. It is for this reason his people were called "Alogbawo" which now becomes Logbawo. At the rear of the convoy were Agomeawo who were restoring the bushes to their normal form to make it seem as if no one had passed through the bush. This was done in order that their path would not betray them to any forces ofAgorkoli.
It is said that Agorkoli once ordered that all people who were above fifty (50) years be killed. The Ve people defied this order by hiding two of their elders, Adzamele and an old woman (Mama). But at the time of the escape they forgot Mama and fled without her. She died and was discovered later by Agorkoli. It is also said that when Agorkoli got to know of the escape he cursed Atrawlui and the people ofAgbaladome fiercely.
In all, eighteen groups or communities took part in the escape westward. And once again for achieving this great feat, the other communities conferred another title on the Veawo as "Lukusiawo" meaning, the people who opened the wall for all to escape. And so they are known as "Ve-Lukusiawo".
During the course of their westward advance, they came across four high mountains. These were on the north-eastern side of the present day Agu-Akplolo, by the Haho river (Hahotosisi). They wandered among the mountains and in the process found some round tubers which proved to be edible. They were yarn, water-yam and the three-leaved yam, (Nkafo). The people settled there for about six years, so up till today those hills arc called "Ve-to", meaning, Ve mountains.
Due to persistent conflict among the different groups, the Veawo thought it wise to resume their movement, still towards the west. However, some among the various groups chose, to go their own ways rather. Some went south-west; they are now Torveawo. Those who went to the valley of Veto are now Agu-Nyorgboawo. The Veawo on the other hand continued north-west towards the source of the Hei river where they settled once more. The place is now known as Veƒedo which is at the western side of Yor (present day Agome Yoh in the Republic of Togo). But some of the people went southwards. In addition to the Torveawo, they include Voloveawo. It is said that before reaching Veƒedo, a certain pregnant woman called Gbane, a sister of one of the Ve leaders, had to stay and deliver. She could not join the rest later and so she used to be described as "Gbane tso Ve" (Gbane of Ve).The place she remained at is called Gbanave.
As the people continued to move from place to place so did their numbers continue to diminish either due to quarrels or the desire to be independent.
According to oral tradition, when the people reached Veƒedo, Atrawlui Akpakpa, the Chief Priest of Tagbami, decided that they should celebrate their escape from Notsie wall (Glime) as a way of thanking their fetishes for leading them thus far. It is said that this celebration was held in 1701. Many goats were slaughtered and they feasted and drank plenty of corn-wine. As the drink took its toll, quarrels and fights ensued. A fetish priestess of Agbovoeme who was once connected with the powerful fetish of Agbogbo, had wanted to collect all the heads of the goats that had been slaughtered. But she would not be allowed and this resulted in a fight, which was said to have lasted till nightfall, stretching to midnight. When day broke, none of the goat heads could be found. But a more serious catastrophe was to befall them; The stone-sickle or "Kpemla" which was used in breaking the Notsie wall got lost along with some other sacred items from the Tagbami shrine. When this happened the general belief was that it was the fetish which became angry.
Consequently, the people of Agbovoeme also deserted the rest of the group. Some others who also separated and departed were Hanyigbawo, Havcawo and Nyiveawo. At certain stages of the journey some people chose not to continue but to remain at places they considered suitable for habitation. Some of them are Kpoetawo.
After leaving the Kpoetawo behind, the group came to a fairly wide and flat area where they saw a stream. People were sent to find out where it ended. They came back to report that "Aƒla boo" meaning, it has gone very far. So the name of the stream which was to become the permanent source of water supply for the Veawo, as well as the abode 'of their fetish and "liberator", Tagbami, became known as Aflabo.
Before reaching the flat area, which proved to be a hill-top, Atrawlui Akpakpa selected three persons to assist him in leading the rest of the people. His reason was that their numbers were decreasing as group after group deserted them. Meanwhile Vakpoawo and Santrokofiavvo were the latest to depart while Logbawo descended towards the eastern side of the present day Logba Vuinta.
The three people chosen by Atrawlui were Frititi Nyamgbo, Abidzo and Adadike. After a sojourn on the hill, the remaining group went down towards he north-eastern direction of modern day Logba-Vuinta. From here onwards, the various communities of modern Ve seemed to have started taking shape. Now they moved in three main groups: these were Deme, Gboxome and Agbome. It is estimated that the time Veawo reached the open space on the hill was 1709, having left Notsie around 1620. This means they wandered in the wilderness for about 89 years.
The Scorpion -