Adze: an insectoid source of misfortune in West Africa3 min read
As night settles in Africa, across Togo and Ghana, where the Ewe people lives, the Adze, it is said, slips through keyholes, under windows and around doors, flying to the bodies of the sleeping, appearing as mosquitos, beetles, fireflies, or simply balls of light. They prey on men and women, but especially enjoy the blood of children.
For centuries, the Ewe people of West Africa have lived in fear of these creatures.
According to the legend, there’s no potion, spell, or weapon that can ward one off, and no cure for the bitten. The Adze will either drain the person of life, or possess them, consigning them to madness or misery (if not both).
People possessed by an adze are viewed as witches, or “abasom” in the Ewe language. The adze’s influence would negatively affect the people who lived around their host. A person is suspected of being possessed in a variety of situations, including women with brothers. especially if their brother’s children fared better than their own, old people, if the young suddenly started dying and the old stayed alive, and the poor if they envied the rich. The adze’s effects are generally felt by the possessed victim’s family or those of whom the victim is jealous.
Historically, there’s no record of when the lore of the Adze first began. Archaeological evidence shows that the Ewe people settled the coast of West Africa, in the tropical region of what is now Ghana and Togo, around the 13th century, and historians believe the Azde originated as an explanation against malaria and other insect-borne diseases that regularly hitting the Ewe people.
In the 19th century, after Christian missionaries from Europe established colonies in the region, the creatures evolved into a scapegoat for a range of other evils including personal, cosmic, biological.
If a person showed signs of jealousy, mental illness, bad luck, addiction, marriage problems, or the inability to conceive a child and others, Adze possession was often considered the culprit.
In Ewe culture, the Adze are said to possess women more frequently. For istance, a woman who appears envious of her husband’s other wives, who is infertile, or with an uneven temperament are all thought to be possessed by an adze.
While there is little that can be done to fight the adze, there may be a few ways to free someone from its possession. Some believe that the only way to defeat the creature is to force it out of its host and into a quasi-human form, a hunchbacked creature with talons and jet-black skin, and then kill it.
A very difficult method, however, as the transformed Adze is agile and extremely dangerous.
The more common method, particularly post-Christian invasion, is considered more effective and familiar to anyone who knows the Christian theology of possession: vigorous prayer. In short, exorcisms.
But no matter the Adze’s form or reason for possession: actually, no one is safe from jealousy, sadness, or the bite of a mosquito….:)
Images from web – Google Research