In 1680 Jean Barbot made the following observation about the religious institutions found in the Slave Coast Ewe communities of Keta and Anlo: “Their…religion [is] much the same as on the Gold Coast, only they have a vast quantity of idols…” A similar observation was made by Danish cartographer P. Thøning on his 1802 map of the lower Volta, when he described a site near the Anlo capitol of Anloga, as an “Amegase fetisch-plads,” an important religious shrine. Subsequently this shrine was identified as that which belonged to one of the clans from whose ranks was chosen the awoamefia, the highest leadership position in Anlo. In 1935 this clan, the Bate, was, in turn, described by the German missionary D. Westermann as composed of priests, soothsayers, and magicians. It is not surprising then, given such references, that R.A. Kea suggested that “the Anlo ruler's supremacy was based, at least initially on religious and ritual ascendancy.”
In 1978, however, when Anlo elders were consulted on this issue, most were surprisingly vehement in their denials of any such association, past or present, between religious concerns and the offices in the Anlo political system, particularly that of the awoamefia. They pointed to the popular traditions--those published in local textbooks and recited at annual festivals--to support their contention that the two clans which had gained custody of the awoamefia office, the Adzovia and Bate, had gained and retained the same through the “right of inheritance” and the “right of service” respectively.