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Saturday, May 21, 2022


The Atrikpi or Atrikpui dance is an ancestral war dance performed by people in some parts of  Ewe land, and it  dates back to centuries.
Atrikpui Dance is a warrior dance that is not limited to South-Western part of Ghana, but it is also performed by the people around southern part of Togo, and South-Eastern part of Benin.
The dance is said to have originated from war and it is currently performed when ever someone dies through an accident, or unnatural death. The tune  for the dance is usually a customary music that is performed when ever a Chief or Queen is being installed, or he/she passes away.
Some elderly individuals who are close to the stool are also buried using Atrikpi dance tune  as additional customary music.
In *Dagbamete* for instance, it is the only music performed at the funeral and burial ceremony of the dead who passes away through an accident or unnatural  death, before burial.
The death of loved ones through accidents and other unnatural causes are seen as losses at war. Accordingly, they’re referred to as “Ametsiaʋawo” (People who couldn’t survive at war), and hence, recreational musics are not considered to be appropriate under such circumstances.
It is believed that, if a different music is performed at the funeral of someone who died unnaturally such as through an  accident, another death of similar nature would occur in the shortest possible time.
History has it that during ancient wars such as Datsutagba war of 1784, also called “Sagbadri war” (the reason why it is called Sagbadri war will feature in another article), several people got killed. Those who were killed were beheaded by those who defeated them.
In the process, the blood spillage from the defeated victims soiled the dresses of the warrior victors (the dress were usually prepared with herbal fortifications against gun shot bullets).
This accounted for the use of *brown coloured dresses* (looks like human-blood stained dress) during Atripkui dance performance.
Today, some people use red coloured cloths or dresses in place of the brown coloured dress, but this is equally acceptable as red signifies danger in Ghanaian traditional dressing.
In Atrikpi dance, implements or weapons such as cutlasses, knives, guns, etc. are used to perform the dance.
In dancing to Atrikpui music, the dancers usually dance by jumping up and down. When landing on the ground after jumping,  the two hands holding the weapons are used to cross one another.  The left hand is used to cross the right hand, and again the right hand is used to cross the left hand repeatedly while jumping.
This is continued  while taking steps forward in aggressive war-like movement.
Some musketries or locally made guns are used and are fired intermittently to signify how victims of war were captured, using the implements or the weapons including guns.
The drums used to perform Atripki are made from animal skins and carved wood. They sound fearfully, which scares children anytime they are  played.
Atrikpi or Atrikpui reminds us of how our forefathers fought for the liberation of today’s generation.
It also inspires us to be brave, and more especially it fosters unity among community members as it reminds them of a unified fight by their forefathers to capture their enemies.
This article was inspired by *Torgbi Klu Agudzeamega II*, (DUFIA of *Dagbamete* and the Warlord of *ATSYIAME TRADITIONAL AREA*).
By Davor Wonder

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