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Dagbamate Shrine, providing spiritual protection, healing to adherents

Dagbamate Shrine, providing spiritual protection, healing to adherents

Dr Kurtis Andrews, 44, a dual citizen of Ghana and Canada, and an adherent of the powerful Dagbamate Shrine, believes the traditional place of worship possesses all there is to spirituality.

The PhD holder in Ethnomusicology, who annually patronises the shrine, known as ‘Afetorku Gbodzi,’ trusts the teachings of the centre, combining practical indigenous African religion and spirituality that has stood the test of time.

He acknowledges a remarkable feeling of unity and fellowship the shrine brings not only to the community of Dagbamate but to all its members.

“It truly represents a viable manner in which the traditional worship (dekornusuborsubor) and modernity can work hand in sync for the development of the people,” he said.

Kwamivi Agbodeka, a 64-year-old farmer and a member of the shrine, idolises the Afetorku Gbodzi as provider of protection to him and his entire household.

“Our god is a god of principle and always gentle, just abide by the dictates and you will be free to live,” he added.

Kumase Dzamesi, another worshipper at the shrine, believed their god is a listening and powerful one.

“You can belong to any religion and still worship our god if you need protection,” he noted.

Some female traders from Kumasi and Accra, who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on condition of anonymity, said their problems had been largely solved at the feet of the Afertoku Shrine.

All these sampling gave credence to the beliefs of a supreme being in the context of traditional or Indigenous African religion and customs.


Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural, including belief in a supreme creator, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic, and traditional medicine.

The knowledge of God in the African Traditional Religion is not much different from the idea of God that Christian missionaries preached in Africa.

It is, therefore, important for African theology to ascertain the meaning of African Traditional Religion, both because of the service this tradition renders to Christian theology as “a dialogue partner”.

It is also because the very self-awareness of the African theologian and of African theology itself, to a large extent, hinges on a proper articulation and appreciation of Africa’s pre-Christian past.

Africans believe in the existence of a mystic, invisible, and hidden spiritual power in the Universe.

The Dagbamate Shrine, (Afetorku Gbodzi) fits into these realms and continues to play the spiritual and divinity roles it has played over centuries, at its headquarters, located within the Akatsi South Municipality of the Volta Region.

It is about nine kilometres south of Akatsi, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and Togo to the east.

The population of Dagbamate is over 1,000, with most of the residents, who settled in the area in the late 16th Century, related to the founder, Torgbui Zatekpa.

The village has developed a national and international reputation for its powerful traditional Vodu Shrine, which registers visitors from Africa, America, Europe and elsewhere, annually.

The enclave has all the modern amenities including running water, electricity, health centre, schools, guest houses, as well as modernised shrine buildings, and shops. It is classified as one of the cleanest communities in the Volta Region.

Although many dwellers still practice subsistence farming, increasingly the sons and daughters of the village are leaving to study and work in the cities and abroad.

Residents in Dagbamate have a simple, religious, and gentle rural lifestyle predicated on farming and trading with their main staple crops being cassava, maize, beans, groundnuts, and chili pepper.

Chiefs and Elders

Dagbamate’s Council of Elders is led by Chief Torgbui Klu Agudzeamegah II.

The Council of Village Elders consists of the chief, the queen mother, and more than a dozen opinion leaders, who are local farmers and traders as well as managers, educators, and public bureaucrats.

A separate Council of Elders, known in Ewe as the Hanuawo, administers the Apetorku Shrine.

Torgbui Klu Agudzeamegah was installed as Chief in 1989, more than a century after the death of the first chief, Klu Agudzeamega, in the 1800s.

Culture and Tradition

The people of Dagbamate are proud of their tradition and culture and passionate about keeping them alive with special reference to environmental sanitation.

They believed there is a direct relationship between environmental cleanliness and the sanctity of the gods.

It is because of this passion that visitors from all over the country and beyond come to experience the musical and dance, spiritual and healing traditions and experiences.

The village continues to develop socially, while preserving the values of tradition that has kept them strong over many decades.


The festivals are the highlights of the village calendar, eagerly anticipated by thousands of people, who throng Dagbamate from around the country and the world for their religious and spiritual atonement.

The main festival: the Apetorku Annual Festival, which coincides with the Christian Easter celebration, is held at the Apetorku Shrine with a sitting capacity of over 1,000 for a continuous nine days.

Talulu, which is a mid-year festival, takes place on the last Saturday of October.

Performances from different traditional groups such as Yewe, Breteke, Korku, and Zanugbetorwo herald the event.

The festival is characterised by cultural displays and sacrifices to the gods for spiritual atonement, fortification and making of new vows.

The Apetorku Shrine

The Apetorku Gbodzi is the place of worship and the heart of the village. It is where members go for spiritual and physical healing, cleansing and to receive protection against evil influences.

It has an active programme of Sunday worship, daily pledges and vows.

Adherents worship the Apetorku, a god belonging to the Vodu African Traditional Religion that teaches self-discipline, unity and peace.

The shrine is also the impetus behind community development and projects such as electrification, education, health, sanitation, water, roads, among others that have been undertaken.

Ngorgbea Kofi Davor takes the leadership role amidst other priests in performing rites at the shrine.

Members of the Apetorku Shrine are entitled to free accommodation, including free food during the Easter and Mid-year festivals.

Taking pictures in the forest is not allowed, neither is it allowed to snap or possess pictures of the sacrifices, which are deemed as taboos.

The icing on the cake is the usual rains that accompany the rituals when thousands congregate.

Spiritual benefits of the Apetorku Shrine

A good number of people come to the shrine, recognised as a major hub for treatment of spiritual related issues, to seek solutions to their problems.

Ngorgbea Kofi Davor, interacting with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), mentioned some spiritual benefits members derive from the shrine.

These include academic progress, financial success, relief from mental disorder, barrenness, full protection from evil powers such as taking an evil plot against a member, and magic power plot.

Those who come for spiritual reliefs and protection are only asked to make a pledge, which they fulfill after recovery without charges, he said.


Traditional religion and culture need not be seen as vestiges of the past; they are acutely relevant to our contemporary society and are well suited to meet the challenges that modernity and post-colonial Africa bring.

This will be easily realised once people remove the stigma, self-hate and confusion that was brought by the colonial enterprise, especially Christianity.

From philosophy, language, music, dance, astronomy and cosmology, each of these are embedded within and transmitted via traditional spiritual practices.

“African spirituality simply acknowledges that beliefs and practices touch on and inform every facet of human life, and therefore African religion cannot be separated from the everyday or mundane,” Jacob Olupona, Professor of Indigenous African Relations, Harvard Divinity School, has said.

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Source: GNA

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