AUTHOR: Samuel Abednego Agbo

PHOTO CREDIT: Kumagah Asiwome


Torvi (Tɔvi) literally means ‘father’s child’. Siblings with the same parents i.e. the same father and mother are referred to as NORVI (NƆVI). Siblings with the same father but different mothers are referred to as Tordzidzi (TƆDZIDZI) while siblings with the same mother but different fathers are referred to as Nordzidzi (NƆDZIDZI). The above notwithstanding, people who share the same kindred are generally referred to as NORVIWO (NƆVIWO) or ƑOMETƆWO. 

In addition to the above understandings, the term TƆVI also represents a traditional system in Gbi-Bla and beyond. One will often hear the term ‘torvinyeooo’. 
The TƆVI system is a support system for an individual in addition to his or her siblings. So where the TƆVI institution is functioning effectively, a person without sibling(s) would not be overly worried as an only child. 

The Torvi (Tɔvi) system makes community members have ‘brothers’ / ‘sisters’ in families, clans, sub-divisions and / or divisions other than their own. This establishes natural and ever-ready bonds across families, clans and / or sub-divisions for peaceful communal coexistence and conflict resolution.

In the wisdom of our forefathers, every community member needs two people who should be close to him or her. These are persons he or she will naturally stick with, fight for, and vice versa. These two people must be a male and a female. These two people are considered by tradition as closer in ties than even a person’s siblings. The relationship that exists between these people should not be romantic at any point in time because they are considered ‘siblings’ from different parents. The two people are referred to as TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU for the male and female respectively. 

Ideally, an individual is expected to have TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU upon the attainment of adulthood. But more often than not, TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU are appointed at the time an individual has to undertake a notable traditional function e.g. marriage, TAVƆƐƉEƉE, LƆXOƉIƉI, TOTUDADA, etc. 

An individual has the right to select his or her TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU with the guidance of clan elders. The elders could also appoint TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU for an individual with the consent of the individual. TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU cannot be imposed on an individual. A person can also request to change his or her TƆVIŊTSU / TƆVINYƆNU.

In addition to being there for the individual through the thick and thin of life, TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU play significant roles in the life of an individual in times of celebration and also in times of mourning. TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU are the ones who should be the main actors during a person’s marriage ceremony, anniversary celebrations, TAVƆƐƉEƉE, LƆXOƉIƉI, TOTUDADA, etc. In the procession to these programmes, the individual is expected to be flanged at the right by the TƆVIŊTSU and the left by the TƆVINYƆNU.

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The TƆVI system dovetails into another system herein referred to as KUNUWƆNAWO 
At the time of death, TƆVIŊTSU becomes AMEDIE while TƆVINYƆNU becomes TSIDZOEƉOA. A third person is appointed at this time called ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA 
Where a person did not have TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU at the time of his or her death, the elders would appoint AMEDIE, TSIDZOEƉOA and ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA for the deceased person per custom and tradition. 

AMEDIE, among other functions, is the Chief Mourner. No ritual could be performed without the presence and / or consent of AMEDIE. Nobody is expected to use or dispose of any of the belongings of the deceased person without the consent of the AMEDIE. 

TSIDZOEƉOA, among other functions, is the one responsible for the wellbeing of the body of the deceased till burial. She has to be by the body from mortuary to the funeral home and keep an eye on the body till burial. 

ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA supports AMEDIE and TSIDZOEƉOA in prosecuting the burial, funeral and all other related customary responsibilities. The ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA is always a male. 
A person’s TƆVIŊTSU and TƆVINYƆNU and where necessary AMEDIE, TSIDZOEƉOA and


ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA must hail from specific clans / sub-divisions as prescribed by custom and tradition.


Our ancestors consider death as a passage from the physical world to the spiritual world. A number of rituals are therefore put in place to ensure the smooth departure of a person from the physical world into the spiritual world. The process is so important that every family member is expected to be actively involved. To get everybody involved, all existing disputes between family members have to be settled before the funeral.The passage of a person from the living to the dead is too important an issue for family members to keep holding on to their differences. Also, dispute(s) involving the dead person and any living family member(s) in particular or any other person in general has to be settled as much as practicable. 
Hence the moment a person dies, our customary conflict resolution systems are automatically activated. 

Xɔmedali, Tɔvidali&Kukodzo are the traditional platforms used to make all these important preparations before a funeral is held. 

Before explaining the three (3) traditional platforms, there is the need to first explain how TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIE, TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOA and ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA are appointed in Gbi-Bla.


The selection processes vary from sub-division to sub-division in Gbi-Bla and this is strictly backed by history and custom. 

TSRIVI SUB-DIVISION: The Tsrivi Sub-division is made up of three clans namely Akunu, Buami and Nyavor. 

The Akunu Clan is made up of the Simpi Family, Gorkel (Kokloboto) Family, Sunu family and Aʋafianyo Family. 

The Buami Clan is made up of the Digo Family, Gorlu (Asempah) Family, Venyo Family, Agbo (Akpedanu) Family and Soglo Family. 

The Nyavor Clan is made up of the Amewu (Duglu) Family, Avetse Family, Boateng Family, Senoo Family, Lartey Family, Edzii Family, Zu Family, Kpegah Family and Atey Family.
A member of the Tsrivi Sub-division can have TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIE and TƆVINYƆNU /

TSIDZOEƉOA from any of the two other clans in Trsivi outside his/her clan. Both could come from the same clan or one from each clan.


FOR EXAMPLE: A member of the Akunu clan may have TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIE from Buami clan and TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOA from Nyavor clan. The same person may have both coming from either the Buami clan or Nyavor clan. The same applies to the other two clans in Tsrivi.
(It must be noted however that this selection arrangement has not always been the case. The Akunu Clan until the early 1980s was a subset of the Buami Clan.)



BLANYIGBE SUB-DIVISION: The Blanyigbe Sub-division is made up of three clans; 

namely, AsiamahKotobri, Bansa and Gledogbe. These three (3) clans collectively refer to each other as TƆVIWO. Blanyigbe select ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA from outside the clan of the deceased person. For example, when a member of the AsiamahKotobri Clan dies, the ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA must come from either the Bansa Clan or Gledogbe Clan.

The AsiamahKotobri Clan is made up of the Asiamah Family, Achemdey Family, Aguduawu Family and Egbenunya Family. 
The Bansa Clan is made up of theGladza Family, Tsekpo Family, Kakatse Family and Kumeni Family. 

The Gledogbe Clanis made up of theAdigbo Family, Adjah Family, Tsigbe Family and Nyangamagu Family. It must be noted here that NYANGAMAGU is a sub-set of the Tsigbe Family. 

The TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIE and TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOA of a member of the Blanyigbe Sub-division can either come from the person’s own clan but from a different family or from either of the two other clans of Blanyigbe. 

A member of the Tsigbe family could have a TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIEfrom the Adjah Family and TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOA from the Adigbo Family. The TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOAcould equally come from either the Bansa Clan or AsiamahKotobri Clan and vice versa.
Another member of the Tsigbe family could have TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIEfrom the Bansah Clan and TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOAfrom the AsiamahKotobri Clan and vice versa. 



BLADZIGBE SUB-DIVISIO: The Bladzigbe Sub-division is made up of three clans namely Ayim, Kpoŋɛ and Vule.

The Ayim Clan is made up ofthe Aliƒe Family, Dagana Family, Nsua Family and Mensah Family. 

The Kpoŋɛ Clan is made up of the Tsriku Family, Yeboah Family, Amoaku Family, Blu Family, Kofinti Family, Osai Family and Aʋli Family. 

The Vule Clan is made up ofthe Awumey Family, Gandedzi Family, Prah Family, Yadar Family, Abubu Family and Avorgoe Family. 

The Kpoŋɛ Clan select both TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIE and TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOA from the Vule Clan but from different families. 

The Vule Clan selects both TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIE and TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOA from the Kpoŋɛ Clan and selects TƆVINYƆNU from within the same Vule clan. The Kpone Clan also selects TƆVIŊTSU from the Vule Clan and TƆVINYƆNU from within the same Kpoŋɛ Clan. That is to say, among the Vule and Kpone clans, the Amedie is selected from the other clan other than that of the deceased, whereas the Tsidzoedoa is selected from the clan of the deceased.

The Ayim Clan select both TƆVIŊTSU / AMEDIE and TƆVINYƆNU / TSIDZOEƉOA ONLY from WITHIN the Ayim Clan but from families outside a person’s family.


Tsrivi&Bladzigbe Sub-divisions
The Tsrivi Sub-division is made of the Akunu Clan, Buami Clan and Nyavor Clan. 
Members of the Tsrivi Sub-division collectively refer to the members of the two original clans of Bladzigbe i.e. Kpoŋɛ Clan and Vule Clan as their TƆVIWO and vice versa. 
When death occurs in the Tsrivi Sub-division, the Tsrivimetsitsie would request for ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA from Bladzigbemetsitsie during the occasion of TORVIDALI (TƆVIDALI). The Bladzigbemetsitsie upon receiving the request would confer with his elderly kinsmen and select a man from either the Kpoŋɛ Clan or Vule Clan. 

When death occurs in any of the two original clans of Bladzigbe i.e. the Kpoŋɛ Clan and Vule Clan, the Bladzigbemetsitsiewould request for ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA from Tsrivimetsitsie during the occasion of TƆVIDALI. The Tsrivimetsitsie upon receiving the request would confer with his elderly kinsmen and select a man from the Akunu Clan, Buami Clan or Nyavor Clan. 
The Ayim Clan select ASIXEƉEAMEŊLA from ONLY WITHIN the Ayim Clan but from outside the deceased person’s family.

(NOTE: The Ayim Clan used to be part of the TsriviSub-division. They moved to be part of BladzigbeSub-division following a dispute. This incident is believed to have occurred around 1920 during the reign of Buami III also called VenyoAzogbator).

NOTE: The photo published with this piece is for demonstration purposes only, as the two people it features together may not be torviwo.