There are many tribes in Ghana, each with its unique traditional dance symbolic to its people.
According to history, the Kete dance, although a dance from the Ashantis was actually copied from the people of Kete-Krachi. It used to be a dance for the Kete-Krachi hunters and when the Ashantis conquered them during a war, they took over the dance, this is evident of the symbolic cloth used to cover the Kete drums known as “sum ne mogya” meaning, “Darkness and Blood”.
The story behind the dance states that there was once a queen mother in Ashanti called Abrewa Tutuwa. She suddenly fell ill in the cause of her reign. The Obosom (gods) was consulted and they requested for a live antelope to be used for sacrificial rites. It was alleged that the Asafo companies were promptly detailed to the forest to look for the animal. On coming back, the people saw to their amazement the antelope jumping and making very strange movements.
The people in an attempt to imitate the movement of the animal as a sign of celebrating the queen mother’s health started the Adowa dance. The dance was hence started by the Asafo companies.
Tora is among the oldest of the Dagomba drum stories. There came a time when a chief died having produced no son, and they were forced to make a woman the Yaa-naa. Another man who wanted the chieftaincy, scared her out of the palace one night, forcing them to choose a new chief, and in accordance with his plan they chose him. The story of Tora is about the tragedy and misfortune that befell the man who violated tradition by scaring the Yaa-naa out of the palace to get the chieftaincy for himself.
Takai is one of the oldest drum rhythms of the Dagomba. According to history, there was a war going on between the Dagomba and Mossi, and a Dagomba woman got lost in the bush and was eventually found by a Mossi hunter. Years later, when there was once again a conflict between the two tribes, the woman’s story came to light, and because of this connection, they halted the war. The drum language for the dance simply says; “the chief says listen, stop the fight.”
Despite the first impression, the background of this dance isn’t all that fun. Before the Ewe people were able to settle in the beautiful Volta Region of Ghana and in Southern Togo, they went through tough times of war and oppression, they had to fight their way to freedom. To train and encourage their warriors, the Ewe played various war dances, one of them called Atrikpui. In the 1920s, after the Ewes had enjoyed a period of peace, this serious dance turned into the fun and entertaining Agbadza that we know today.
The Kpanlogo dance was actually invented by Otoo Lincoln in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s in Accra. According to Otoo Lincoln, he invented the dance to accompany a story his grandfather told him which goes like this;
“…there were three girl triplets called Kpanlogo, Mma Mma and Alogodzan. Their father, who was the chief of the town, said that the man who would guess the three girls’ names could take all three and marry them. So one man went to the house dressed as a madman and met Mma Mma in the yard and she shouted to her two sisters to come and see someone dancing. As they called each other, the man learned the three names. To remember them he kept on singing to himself, “Kpanlogo, Alogodzan, Kpanlogo Mma Mma”…when the man came the chief gave him his daughters” – Otoo Lincoln