Songs of the Main Tron Shrine in Savalou

Singer: Chtehoueton Kofonon

Tracks

Songs for Papa Kounde

The women and girls singing here are the hearth of the Tron shrine including main priest’s wife and children and important practitioners. Chtehoueton leads the weekly ceremony in all but formalities, as her husband is the official leader although his wife carries out most of the rituals. At the entrance of the compound, hex diagrams in white powder provide protection and a site for offerings and blessings under female dominated session featuring mostly songs for Papa Kunde. Young men and boys provide the drum rhythms and accompany, completing the family and general diversity of those associated with this shrine.

A shrine room too small to gather includes candles and fenced in alters with a passage to get around the clusters of objects that form the shrine. The large open waiting and general-purpose area features wall paintings of the major spirits and important symbols like the owl. Benches stemming from the wall are casual and yet also allow for a substantial number of guests for larger ceremonies. Songs to Papa Kunde dominate this medley and representing a spirit intolerant of transgressions to moral order and combatant against sorcery and ill-intentioned spirits. Tron spirits are of wellness, abundance, and healing.

  • Chtehoueton Konfonon
  • Tahinon Koffi
  • Ovekesi
  • Louise Capo-Chicai
  • Bignon Tanguinon Koffi
  • Mercelaine Aglassa
  • Francine Aglassa

Songs for Papa Kounde (medley) – 21:24

See all metadata and notes (pdf)

  • Ethnic Group: Fon (Mahi)
  • Language (dialect): Fongbe (Mahigbe)
  • Country: Benin
  • Recording date: May 12, 2017
  • Recording location: Savalou, Benin
  • Total Recording time: 21:24
  • Technician: Brian Nowak
 

Singer: Cervaux Gbaguidi

Tracks


Songs for Kofi Ganbada

This group of young men is the heart of the energy offered to the Tron shrine through songs of worship. In particular, the powerful spirit of Kofi highlights the courageous power needed for combatting evil. The Tron family of spirits arrived later into the Mahi Fon pantheon, brought from Hausa migrants from Ghana, a migration over several generations as Hausa families left Nigeria and Niger to settle in Ghana, some later returning towards the West to settle. Papa Kunde, the head of the Tron family is a Muslim, compassionate and peace-loving spirit that is more mediator than warrior. This Muslim spirit clearly identifies the spirit family’s origins from beyond the Mahi Fon Vodun tradition referring to its Muslim Hausa origins, clearly with plenty of room left for animist ritual.

The leader of the group is the son of the main Tron priest, and his younger brother joins him with other initiates for weekly ceremonies that take place outside the entrance to the shrine and then inside the small room filled with alters. Two of the young men are not even from the area. They came from Cotonou and Porto Novo to work in Savalou. Coming from big cities, the social network and bonds formed by spirit worship have formed as small, tight-knit core that can lead and sustain songs as part of their own weekly offering of time and energy to demonstrate their devotion.

From inside the room of alters, the atmosphere alone represents a sacred space with the symbols, ritual objects and all the sights and smells that separate a significant shrine of sacrifice from the everyday. The close quarters contain the energy following weekly ceremony, with this group singing in the dark room. Songs flow organically and individuals alternate with the older boys taking turns as lead singer. Being in the shrine is a unique experience rarely witnessed first-hand even by locals. The intimate portrayal documented here is as close as one can get to being there, quite literally as the camera was closer than any person would when inside the room.

  • Cervaux Gbaguidi – Adodo Gan (large talking drum)
  • Florent Gbaguidi – Adodo Mile (small talking drum)
  • Prince Gbaguidi – Gon (gong)
  • Azui Euloge – Gon (gong)
  • Tossou Wilfred – Sangoue (gourd-net shaker)
  • Gaston Gbaguidi – Sangoue (gourd-net shaker)

Songs for Kofi Ganbada (medley) – 22:54

See all metadata and notes (pdf)

  • Ethnic Group: Fon (Mahi)
  • Language (dialect): Fongbe (Mahigbe)
  • Country: Benin
  • Recording date: May 12, 2017
  • Recording location: Savalou, Benin
  • Total Recording time: 22:54
  • Technician: Brian Nowak
WordPress
%d bloggers like this: