ISBN 9789988647902
Pages 980
Dimensions 254mm x 178mm
Illustrations B/W Illustrations and Maps
Published 2011
Publisher Sub-Saharan Publishers, Ghana
Format Paperback

The Ewe People

A Study of the Ewe People in German Togo

by Jakob Spieth

The Ewe of Ghana, Togo and Benin have been one of the most documented ethnic groups in West Africa, given their encounters with the German, French and British colonial administrations. In 1906, Jakob Spieth, a German Bremen Missionary, published Die Ewe-Stamme. Die Ewe-Stamme is one of the most comprehensive treatises on the history, religion, economic life, traditional social structure, and, indeed, the entire spectrum of everyday life of the Ewe. Published over 100 years ago the book had limited circulation and became increasingly rare to the extent that it almost became a deified piece of work and source of classified knowledge. Additionally, Die Ewe-Stamme was published in German and old non-standard and colloquial Ewe languages. It is hoped this translation of Die Ewe-Stamme into English and contemporary Ewe might create a revival of interest amongst researchers, enhance the understanding for the traditional Ewe culture and become reading material in schools and universities.

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“…Increasingly, the German Government is expanding this programme to the safeguarding of literature, music and other sources of intellectual heritage. Thus, the translation of “Die Ewe-Stämme” is only one example of the German Foreign Office‘s policy to protect immaterial cultural heritage from vanishing forever. This book, the translation of the groundbreaking work “Die Ewe-Stämme”, is a fine example of German-Ghanaian cultural cooperation in the fi eld of preserving our common cultural heritage. This book is by far the most important still existing documentation on the history, culture and socio-economic organization of the Ewe in nowadays Togo and Ghana. The importance of this book to scholars and the interested public in general, and to the Ewe in particular, is best demonstrated by the central role it still plays in chieftaincy disputes and other legal proceedings among the Ewe in their traditional areas. Regrettably, this book is not easily accessible, as only a handful copies exist amongst the Ewe. The fact that the book is mainly written in German constitutes an additional obstacle to its use. This is due to the fact that German is no more in widespread use amongst the Ewe. Therefore, this translation of “Die Ewe-Stämme” into English and contemporary Ewe might create a revival of interest amongst researchers, enhance the understanding for the traditional Ewe culture and become reading material in schools and universities…”

Dr. Marius Haas, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Ghana, 2007-2010

“Die Ewe-Stämme” remains the most celebrated and indispensable reference documentation on the Eûe, even in its original form. It continues to feature prominently in the settlement of chieftaincy and territorial disputes, conflicts, issues related to succession and ascension to thrones. For example, during the protracted dispute in Ho over claims of the Paramouncy, I recollect vividly the heated exchanges between the legendary, top, erudite doyen of Ghana’s Judicial System, the late J.B. Danquah, and F.T. Amorin, each of whom represented the two principal claimants. These exchanges were guided by the perceived reliability and authenticity of relevant content in the “Die Ewe-Stämme”. After decades of Commissions of Enquiry hearings, and court proceedings, the final judgement that was handed down was refl ective of the exhaustive documentation of observations presented by Spieth in the “Die Ewe-Stämme”.

Prof. Komla Amoaku, Director Institute for Music and Development, Ho Volta Region of Ghana

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