Agroh, P. K. (2020). Trend of ‘Avihɛwo’ Performance among Women Dirge Singers in Tafi Traditional Area, Ghana
Avihɛwo (dirges) play pivotal roles in the performance of funerals among the people of Tafi traditional area in Ghana. However there has been grave concern about the decline in the performance of avihɛwo in recent times in the Tafi Traditional area. This study explored the factors that brought about decline in the performance of avihɛwo in contemporary times in the area. An ethnographic study was adopted in a purely qualitative paradigm. Forty (40) women dirge singers were sampled through purposive sampling technique for the study. Interview, focus group discussion and observation were used to collect data for the study. Qualitative data gathered from the respondents were analysed using thematic analysis and responses were categorized into themes. The study revealed a decline in the live performance of dirges in Tafi traditional area. Almost three decades ago, the live performance of avihɛwo was a prominent feature of all funeral celebrations in Tafi, however the situation is changing. The dirge singers expressed their emotions, grief and condolences through their songs for the deceased person and the bereaved family. This phenomenon has been linked to the ban on wakes by some religious leaders in the area due to Christian beliefs, transformation in burial and funeral rites due to acculturation, modernity and technological advancement, and youth disinterest in dirge singing. Historically, dirges are exclusively performed to epitomize pain due to death, but a myriad of factors threaten its live performance in recent times in Tafi traditional area. There is the need for traditional authorities to encourage live performance of dirges during funerals and also sensitize the people to remove biases and misconceptions against dirges in the area. Finally, lead singers and cantors in the Tafi traditional area to gesture, choreograph and interpret dirges to the audience during funerals in order to rejuvenate its live performance.