A vivid narration of the sacred stone ceremony that climaxes Dipo
This year’s Dipo season has commenced weeks ago and is currently ongoing in Kloma. Many people believe this season is one of the best so far in terms of patronage by both local and foreign tourists. The rite reached a crescendo two weeks ago when The Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Laura Carpini came to Krobo to witness and participate in the ceremony.
Dipo is one of the cultural practises which sets the Krobos apart from the rest of the world. Kloma Hengme, the Krobo Heritage (and advocacy) association brings you a vivid narration of how the true and unadulterated Dipo (”Dipo Ngmengmleee”) is performed.
This Sunday will be another climax of the Dipo rite…We are inviting you all to the Kodjonya Dipo Wem, Odumase-Klo, to witness this unique and beautiful culture of the Krobos (and some of the Dangme tribes)
We will look at the ”Tɛgbɛtɛ yami” (The sacred Stone ceremony) which climaxes the Dipo rite.
THE SACRED STONE CEREMONY (TƐGBƐTƐ YAMI)
Tɛgbɛtɛ yami ceremony takes place on Sunday to climax the Dipo ceremony.
Before sundown on Sunday the the dipo initiates ”dipo yihi” are made to sit on an antelope skin ”Bɔ womi” for three times after which they are dressed for the Tɛgbɛtɛ. They do this in the arena of dipo priest/priestess
HOW THE DIPO YIHI ARE DRESSED FOR TƐGBƐTƐ
Their bodies are smeared with shinny ointment with their tiny loin cloths (Subue) on.
Excitement at this moment soars very high as many people troop in to watch their dressing and their ceremonial departure to the sacred stone. Other ornaments that are used to adorn the initiates are expensive and precious beads such as ”Hungua” around their waists, and ”powa” and ”Ahuazii” which are worn around their knees. Others such as ”Zagba”, ”Kɔli”, ”Huajiatɔ” or ”Sɔkɔ bɛkɛ” are tied around the wrists and their necks.
Other aspects of their dressings is the decoration of the candidates with dots of white clay (called Mɛmɛ) on their foreheads, temples, breast, shoulders, arms and legs.
Whiles part of the women folk dress for the girls, the rest sing, dance and jubilate to ”Ha” tunes (dipo songs).
In the days of old, the fat of goat was spread out like veil on the heads of the Dipo candidates. The intestines were emptied and inflated and was worn around their necks and shoulders. Presently, in place of the fat of goat and the intestines, white cloths ”Kploba” or ”Klala” is used.
THE CEREMONIAL DEPARTURE TO THE SACRED STONE
This is the moment every dipo initiate awaits….The ceremonial departure to the sacred stone.
The dipo iniates are lined-up (See pictures below) to the enclave where the sacred stone is. As they are reaady to go, they are given walking sticks, and are forbidden to talk to anyone on their way to the sacred stone (and also on their return). To ensure that they do not speak to anyone, a leaf ny name ”Tslana” is stuck between their lips. On their way, they walk majestically with each girl following the other.
They carry a small wooden cross tied with raffia fibre called ”Sɔni”.
On their way, they first pass through the clan priest’s sanctuary. At the priest’s sanctuary, the initiates are sprinkled with sacred water from herbal concoctions to bless them and to ward off all evil and demonic forces. The assitant priest ”Laabia” leads the initiates from the sanctuary to the sacred stone amidst sprinkling of the sacred water on the way.
As they walk majestically to the sacred stone, the elderly women accompanying them sing and dance to ”Ha” songs. The atmosphere at this moment becomes charged and full of merriment.
One of the popular ”ha” songs the women normally sings (to deride the dipo yihi at the back of the queue) goes like this:
Dipo yihi a nyɛmɛ 2X __Dipo girl’s mothers 2X
Nyɛ hiɛ we puɔ lo??___Did you not watch the sun
Mini lo nyɛ hoo??___What type of meat did you prepare??
Okpoku lo??____Vulture meat
Mini la nyɛ slɛ??___ What type of fire did you set???
Takani la 2X____Fire of palm branches 2X
The initiates and the female members of the family are followed by men with guns but the men are not allowed to enter the sacred grove where the sacred stone (tɛgbɛtɛ) is.
The part two (2) will look at the main activities that take place on the sacred stone. Watch out for the part 2 soon!!!!….
Pictures: Dipo iniates going to the Sacred Stone called ”Tɛgbɛtɛ”
Source: Kloma Hengme Heritage Archives
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