ORIGIN AND MIGRATION
Awalime migrated with the other Gbi states from Notsie. They made a stop-over at Agordzogbe with the other Gbi divisions. In their present geographical area, Awalime first settled at a place that later gained the name Blave (i.e. the area around the present Electricity Company yard, Hohoe).
At the time of their stay at Blave, the idea of traditional black stool chieftaincy system was foreign to Awalime in particular and Gbi in general. The idea was later borrowed from the Akans. The Gbi state originally practiced theocracy, then non-centralised and now drifting toward a centralized system of governance. It comprised of people bound together by a loose alliance that was made up of seven divisions. The various migrant Gbi divisions had leaders who led them in the exodus. The leaders were mostly called Torgbe, ametsitsie or amega. The elders had seats in the form of a small short wood log which they called ATIKPLI. Atikpli was not considered a symbol of authority as is the case today in relation to the traditional black stool. It was just a seat for the elders. The leader of Awalime right from Glime (Notsie) was Torgbe Ayim. There were two other supporting elders: one responsible for the performance of rituals on behalf of Torgbe Ayim and the other performed the role of a traditional spokesperson (i.e. Okyeame ) for Torgbe Ayim. The elder responsible for rituals was called Vule while the spokesperson was called Asiamah Kotobri. The three elders effectively led the Awalime until a very serious sacrilegious act was committed in the house of Torgbe Ayim. This occurred when the settlement was at a place that later gained the name Blave. The gravity of the offence customarily demanded that Torgbe Ayim be banished with his household from Awalime. At this time, the population was very small; it was just made up of a few households. The vivid description above should not baffle one into thinking that the settlement at this stage was so organized and large. It should be noted that, even after over three hundred years, the present settlement of Gbi-Bla as far as the indigenes are concerned is nothing huge in terms of population.
Torgbe Ayim sadly left Awalime together with his household. It was later reported that he finally settled at Peki Avetile.
Tsri emerged the leader of Awalime after the departure of Torgbe Ayim. It is believed that Tsri and Ayim shared the same kinship but their actual relationship could not be known. Custom demanded that all the remaining belongings of Ayim including his house be burnt. It became very difficult for the division to continue living on a land where the burnt properties of their former leader existed. Also, the sacrilegious act committed in the house of Ayim was considered a bad omen and believed to have tainted the sanctity of the land. The elders therefore considered vacating the land and in doing so they decided to move closer to their main source of water i.e. River Dayi. As a brave hunter and the one in charge of the spiritual well being of the settlement on behalf of Torgbe Tsri, Vule was charged to search for a new place for settlement. This brought the remaining population to a site which is the present Teresco campus, a place that was quite close to the safest source of water i.e. River Dayi. Unfortunately, the site was badly infested with earthworms so the settlement had to move further to a safer land. Vule, as custom demanded, surveyed, found the present home and performed the necessary rituals. The population subsequently moved to settle on the present land. The land became known as Atiletsakpe. (It has to be clarified here that the nature of narrations handed down to us show that Atiletsakpe land I.e. the current Bla town land belongs to the entire settlement by the nature of how it became occupied. It does not belong to any one family, clan or sub-division.
As earlier stated, the departure of the original Ayim with household called for an effective reorganization. The people rose up to the task and became united in their approach to issues concerning the settlement in particular and the Gbi state at large. This earned them the name BLA literally meaning ‘tight’ or ‘united’. Thus the settlement that got to Atiletsakpe emerged to be known as Gbi-Bla.
AUTHOR: Samuel Abednego Agbo
PHOTO CREDIT: Annette Herrmann-Condobrey