GENDERING MUSICAL DISCOURSE
INDIGENOUS MUSIC AND DANCE IN THE HEALING RITUALS OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES CHURCH IN GHANA
Keywords:dondo, gender, indigenous music, healing, mfoba, rituals, Twelve Apostles Church
In this article, I apply a gendered analysis to a healing phenomenon understood through indigenous musical performances in a ritual context. Ghanaian indigenous music has been widely researched and documented, however, a contextual analysis of the gendered musical roles associated with the healing rituals of the Twelve Apostles Church (TAC) is scant. In this research, the data was obtained from six congregations of the TAC, between 2014 to 2019. Based on participation, observations and interviews, the analysis is a description of how music is gendered in the indigenous healing rituals of the TAC. The main question I seek to answer is: how is gender constructed and how are the gender roles ascribed to musical performances in the healing rituals of the TAC? In answering this question, I discuss the cultural interpretations ascribed to gender in a musically informed healing ritual. The findings revealed that in the TAC, singing is mostly initiated by females who sing about illnesses. Males, on the other hand, are mostly in charge of playing the dondo, an hourglass drum. However, the mfoba, an enmeshed rattle is played by both males and females and it is the mfoba that aids spirit possession. Spirit possession is an integral part of the healing rituals of the TAC and females are more susceptible to being possessed by spirits than males. Based on various rules I argue that the healing ritual of the TAC is based on complementary rather than opposing musical roles of males and females.
Afriyie, Ernestina. 2010. “The Theology of the Okuapehene’s Odwira: An Illustration of the Engagement of the Gospel and Culture Among the Akan of Akropong- Akuapem.” PhD diss., Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture.
Agordoh, Alexander A. 2010. Studies in African Music. Revised Edition. Accra: New Age Publications. Aluede, Charles Onomudo. 2005. “Gender Roles in Traditional Musical Practice: A Survey of the Esan in Edo State, Nigeria.” Studies of Tribes and Tribals 3 (1): 57–60. https://doi.org/10.1080/0972639X.2005.11886520.
Amanor, Darkwa Jones. 2004. “Pentecostalism in Ghana: An African Reformation.” Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research 13.
Ampene, Kwasi. 2005. Female Song Tradition and the Akan of Ghana: The Creative Process in Nnwonkorɔ. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Anku, Willie. 2009. “Drumming among the Akan and Anlo Ewe of Ghana: An Introduction.” African Music 8 (3): 38–64. https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v8i3.1827.
Anselmi, Dina Law, and Anne L. Law. 1998. Questions of Gender: Perspectives and Paradoxes. London: McGraw Hill.
Asare, Amos Darkwa. 2019. “Singing the Healing: The Rituals of the Twelve Apostles Church in Ghana.” African Music 11 (1): 113–116. https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v11i1.2295
Ayegboyin, Deji, and Ademola S. Ishola. 1997. African Indigenous Churches: An Historical Perspective. Lagos: Greater Heights Publications.
Baëta, Christian G. 2004. Prophetism in Ghana: A Study of Some Spiritual Churches. Achimota, Ghana: African Christian Press.
Barrett, David B. 1968. Schism and Renewal in Africa: An Analysis of Six Thousand Contemporary Religious Movements. Nairobi: Oxford University Press.
Baur, John. 1994. 2000 Years of Christianity in Africa. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa.
Bem, Sandra Lipsitz. 1983. “Gender Schema Theory and its Implications for Child Development: Raising Gender-aschematic Children in a Gender-schematic Society.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 8 (4): 598–616.
Bem, Sandra Lipsitz. 1981. “Gender Schema Theory: A Cognitive Account of Sex Typing.” Psychological Review 88 (40): 354–64.
Bourguignon, Erika. 2004. “Suffering and Healing, Subordination and Power: Women and Possession Trance.” Ethos 32 (4): 557–74. https://doi.org/10.1525/eth.2004.32.4.557.
Breidenbach, Paul S. 1979. “Maame Harris Grace Tani and Papa Kwesi John Nackabah: Independent Church Leaders in the Gold Coast, 1914–1958.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 12 (4): 581–614. https://doi.org/10.2307/218069.
Breidenbach, Paul S. 1978. “Ritual Interrogation and the Communication of Belief in a West African Religious Movement.” Journal of Religion in Africa/Religion en Afrique 9 (2): 95–108.
Breidenbach, Paul S., and Gordon Mackay Haliburton. 1974. “The Wandering Preacher- The Prophet Harris: A Study of an African Prophet and His Mass-Movement in the Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast 1913–1915.” African Studies Review 17 (1): 306–08. https://doi.org/10.2307/523603.
Burns, James S. 2009. Female Voices from an Ewe Dance-drumming Community in Ghana: Our Music has become a Divine Spirit. Burlington, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Ebeli, Eva Akosua. 2015. “Participation of Women in the Traditional Music Scene: Perspectives from Avatime Totoeme Musical Performance in Ghana.” Global Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences 3 (12): 19–27.
Ferber, Sarah. 2009. “Possession and the Sexes.” In Witchcraft and Masculinities in Early Modern Europe, edited by Alison Rowlands, 214–238. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230248373_10.
Fortes, Meyer. 1953. “The Structure of Unilineal Descent Groups.” American Anthropologist 55 (1): 17–41. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1953.55.1.02a00030.
Friedson, Steven M. 1996. Dancing Prophets: Musical Experience in Tumbuka Healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.
Guthrie Jr, Shirley C. 1994. Christian Doctrine. Westminster: John Knox Press.
Halperin, Daniel. 1996. “Trance and Possession: Are They The Same?” Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review 33 (1): 33–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/136346159603300102.
Holloway, Immy. 1997. Basic Concepts for Qualitative Research. London: Blackwell Science.
Igreja, Victor. 2018. “Spirit possession.” In The International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology, edited by Hilary Callan, 1–9. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1578.
Johnson, Mark. 1987. The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination and Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226177847.001.0001.
Koskoff, Ellen. 2014. A Feminist Ethnomusicology: Writings on Music and Gender. Urbana, Chicago, Springfield: Illinois University Press. 1989. “Both in and Between: Women’s Musical Roles in Ritual Life.” In Music and the Experience of God, edited by David Power, Mary Collins, and Mellonee Bumin, 82–93. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark.
Krabill, James R. 1990. “Dida Harrist Hymnody (1913–1990).” Journal of Religion in Africa. Religion en Afrique 20 (2): 118–52.
Lips, Hilary M. 2019. Gender: The Basics. New York: Routledge. Mbiti, John S. 1977. “Christianity and African Culture.” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 20: 26–40.
Nkansah-Kyeremateng, Kofi. 1999. Akan Heritage. Accra: Optimum Design & Publishing Services.
Nketia, Joseph Kwabena. 1974. The Music of Africa. New York: WW Norton.
Nketia, Joseph Kwabena. 1957. Nketia, J. H. January 1957. “Possession Dances in African Societies.” Journal of the International Folk Music Council 9: 4–9. https://doi.org/10.2307/834962.
Omulokoli, Watson A. O. 2002. “William Wade Harris: Premier African Evangelist.” African Journal of Evangelical Theology 21 (1): 3–24.
Otner, Sherry B. 1974. “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?” In Women, Culture and Society, ed. Michelle Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere, 67–87. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
Rouget, Gilbert. 1985. Music and Trance: A Theory of the Relations Between Music and Possession. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sanday, Peggy R. 1981. Female Power and Male Dominance: On the Origins of Sexual Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shank, David A. 1986. “The Legacy of William Wade Harris.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 10 (4): 170–76. https://doi.org/10.1177/239693938601000408.
Shank, David A. 1997. “The Taming of the Prophet Harris.” Journal of Religion in Africa. Religion en Afrique 27 (1–4): 59–95. https://doi.org/10.1163/157006697X00054.
Shapiro, Anne Dhu. 1991. “A Critique of Current Research on Music and Gender.” World of Music 33 (2): 5–13.
Skelton, Colin. 2010. “Performing the Holy Spirit: Ritualised Manifestations of Faith in an African Independent Church.” Journal for the Study of Religion 23 (1–2): 151–72.
Smith, Edwin W. 1950. “The Idea of God among South African Tribes.” In African Ideas of God, edited by Edwin Smith, 78–134. London: Edinburgh House.
Spring, Anita. 1978. “Epidemiology of Spirit Possession among the Luvale of Zambia.” In Women in Ritual and Symbolic Roles, edited by Judith Hoch-Smith and Anita Spring, 165–190. New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-2400-3_9.
Starr, Christine R., and Eileen L. Zurbriggen. 2017. “Sandra Bem’s Gender Schema Theory After 34 Years: A Review of its Reach and Impact.” Sex Roles 76 (9–10): 566–78. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0591-4.
Stoller, Paul. 1992. “Embodying Cultural Memory in Songhay Spirit Possession / La Mémoire culturelle incarnée dans les rituels de possession Songhay.” Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions 79:53–68. https://doi.org/10.3406/assr.1992.1547.
Wacksmann, Howard K. 1965. “Primitive Music.” Encyclopedia Britannica 15: 1072– 1078.
Warren, Dennis M. 1986. The Akan of Ghana: An Overview of the Ethnographic Literature. Accra: Pointer Limited.
Interviews by Author:
Amissah, Mary, Ghana. 18 August, 2017.
Awotwe, Efua Sarah, Ghana. 25 May, 2019.
Bekoe, Comfort, Ghana. 09 June, 2014.
Kakraba, Jachie, Ghana. 18 August, 2017.
Mbrah, Theresa, Ghana. 15 July, 2016.
Otoo, Augustine, Ghana. 15 June, 2014.
Prah, Amos, Ghana. 09 June, 2014.
White, Emmanuel, Ghana. 02 April, 2019.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 INTERNATIONAL LIBRARY OF AFRICAN MUSIC, Rhodes University
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.