Friday, October 9, 2009
Elfin Fertility in the Volta
A stony kernel and a hale hen are brought to the festival grounds at 7 a.m. Fetish dances and songs are performed by dreadful spirit-beings in varicoloured clothes, dry grass skirts, naked torsos ‘pastelled’ in chalk and war paint. Around 9 a.m., the kernel is buried in the holy ground, and a cock is intimately introduced to the hen. The yodelling and gambolling continues, but as the fetish demi-gods become possessed, they start displaying some shocking acts; wickedly whipping one another, breaking the sable skin and bleeding badly, but there is no cry of pain. Some are cutting and stabbing their own bulging bellies with knives and daggers, but there are no weeping wounds. By 12 noon, the kiddo kernel has grown into a 20-foot-high palm tree with mature, vermillion fruit. The hen has laid an egg and hurriedly hatched a chick. Now the mystic messengers of the gods are appearing and disappearing with a bellowing ‘poom’ amid wisps of white and yellow smoke. At 2 p.m., the chick has ‘imagoed’ into a big, fat hen, and the mother hen withers and dies. By 3 p.m. the new hen and the palm fruit have been cooked into delicious palm soup. Six short hours it took!