Festivals are a prominent feature on our calendar each year. It’s beautiful, fun and colourful. If you’re in Ghana or you’ll be in Ghana this year, you’ll have to most definitely attend these festivals.
The Asafotufiami festival is celebrated by the people of Ada in the Greater Accra Region. The annual festival which takes place in August is used to remember ancient wars with neighbouring tribes like the Ewes. The celebration of the festival starts on the Thursday of the first week of August and goes on until the next week. During the festival, the chiefs gather for possessions amidst the pouring of libation and other cultural practices. In modern times, the festival has become a sort of homecoming for Ada’s all over the world.
Homowo is celebrated by the Ga people in the Greater Accra region of Ghana. Homowo literally means hooting at hunger and it’s celebrated in all the towns in the Ga state with the climax in Gamashie. The celebration begins with the planting of maize which will be used in preparing the ceremonial food used for the festival known as Kpokpoi. During this period, there is a ban on noise making in the whole of Accra. On the day of the festival, the chief for each Ga state sprinkles the ceremonial kpokpoi within the township. The celebration includes marching down roads and streets beating drums, chanting, face painting, singing and traditional dances. There are lots of libations and traditional practices done during the festival to thank the gods for a bumper harvest in the year.
3. Akwambo festival
The Akwambo festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Agona in the Central region of Ghana. The festival is celebrated in the month of August every year. Akwambo literally means path-clearing. On the first day of the festival, Asafo companies weed footpaths leading to the streams or rivers, farms and other communal places, as well as paths which lead to shrines. The following day, the community assembles at the ancestral shrines and the chief pours libation to the ancestral spirits to thank them for their protection the previous year and then request for more blessing, abundant rainfall and good harvest for the ensuing year. The people then parade with twigs and tree branches through the town in groups amidst drumming, dancing and firing of musketry. In a procession, they go through the principal routes and then to the durbar ground to meet the chief and his elders.
4. Asogli Yam Festival
This is a festival celebrated by the people of Asogli in the Volta region of Ghana. It’s an annual festival celebrated in the month of September to celebrate the cultivation of yam which was started by some hunter who found the tuber in the forest during one of his hunting expeditions. The celebration of the festival was brought by the ewe people when they migrated from Notse in the Republic of Togo.
5. Bakatue festival
This is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Elmina in the Central region of Ghana. It’s an annual festival celebrated to mark the beginning of the fishing season in Elmina. It takes place on the first Tuesday in the month of July every year. Bakatue is a Fante word which literally means draining the lagoon or sea. The celebration starts on the first Monday in July where all customary activities are performed. On the Tuesday of the festival proper, the Paramount Chief and his sub-chiefs and the entire Elmina township, offer the sacred festival food of eggs and mashed yam mixed with palm oil known as 3to, to Nana Brenya, the river god, and pray for peace. There is also a royal possession by all members of the royal family. After the procession, the chiefs and people gather at the durbar grounds where various addresses by select chiefs and invited guest are given. After this, the chief priest casts his net three times into the Brenya Lagoon. This is followed by declarations to the end of the ban on fishing, drumming, funerals and other social activities in the Elmina traditional area.
The Fetu Afahye is a festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Cape Coast in the Central region of Ghana. It is celebrated on the first Saturday in the month of September every year. The history behind this festival is that, in the past, there was an outbreak of a disease among the people that killed many. The people of the land prayed to the gods to help them get rid of the disease. Thus the festival is celebrated to keep the town clean and to prevent another epidemic befalling the people. Fetu originally known as Efin tu means doing away with dirt. Before the festival, all drumming, dancing and fishing in the lagoon is banned. This and other cultural and traditional practices are done before 1st September. On the Thursday before the festival, there is a religious ceremony in front of Nana Paprata shrine to cleanse Oguaaman of any bad omen. The Omanhene also addresses his people at this meeting which goes into Friday morning. After the Omanhene of the Oguaa traditional area gives his speech, he walks down to Nana Tabir’s shrine where a cow had earlier been sent for cleansing ahead of the sacrifice. The Omanhene after pouring libation and performing other rituals, picks a knife and slaughters the cow for the gods. This sacrifice leads to the climax of everything on Saturday where Asafo bands parade along the street of Cape Coast from Kotokuraba through Chapel Square to the chief’s palace. A durbar of chiefs is held on this day to deliberate on issues affecting Oguaa Traditional Area as well as the seven Asafo companies to contribute to the security of Oguaa Traditional Area.
Odwira is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Akropong-Akuapim, Aburi, Larteh and Mamfi in the Eastern Region of Ghana and it happens in the month of September every year. Odwira means purification and it’s celebrated to cleanse and purify the chieftaincy stool, people and the entire township. The festival is a week-long celebration. It starts on Monday and ends on Sunday with special activities for each day. On the last day which is Sunday, there is a special durbar which is held by the Kontihene of Akuapem traditional as part of the Odwira Festival to draw down the curtain on the entire festival.
Kundum is celebrated by the Ahanta or Nzema people of the Western region of Ghana and it’s celebrated to thank God for the abundance of food at the time of the harvest period. Previously, the festival was celebrated over a period of four weeks but it has been reduced to eight days in recent times. The festival starts on the day the fruit of a certain palm tree gets ripe. Each town that makes up the Ahanta paramountcy schedule independently on which Sunday their local festival starts. The festival consists mainly of dancing, singing and a feast. The Kundum dance is performed during the funeral and it’s purpose is to drive away evil spirits and demons from the town and to ask the gods for another successful year.
The name simply means “hunting for an animal”. This festival is celebrated by the people of Winneba in the Central region of Ghana. It is used to commemorate the migration of Simpafo, the traditional name given to the people of Winneba from the North-eastern African town of Timbuktu in the ancient Western Sudan Empire to their present land in the central coast of Ghana. It takes place on the first Saturday in May every year. The people believed that a god called Otu protected them during their migration. And to show their appreciation, they consulted a traditional priest who acted as an intermediary between the people and the gods to ask the god for its choice of sacrifice for their appreciation. The god surprisingly decided that the best sacrifice will be a human sacrifice, someone from the royal family. This was complied and year after year, they sacrificed a member of the royal family for the gods until they got tired and requested for an alternative. The god then asked for a type of wild cat which was to be captured alive, presented and then sacrificed at its shrine. This went on for a while but it became apparent that catching the wild cat alive was very dangerous as many lives were lost in the process. The people then made another alternative request to the god and they finally settled on the deer. On the first day of the festival, the two Asafo companies in Winneba, go into the bush on a hunting expedition to catch their deer. The first group to catch a live deer and return with it to the durbar grounds is declared winner and rewarded for it’s bravery. The deer is then sacrificed and it sets the tone for the festival.
10. Hogbetsotso Anlo
This festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Anloga in the Volta region of Ghana. The festival is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in the month of November. Hogbetsotso is used to commemorate the migration of the Anlo people from Notsie, a town in modern-day Togo to their present location in the Volta region of Ghana. According to legend, the Anlo people whiles in Notsie lived under a wicked king called Togbe Agorkoli and to escape from him, they decided to have their women pour all their waste water on a particular spot on the wall that surrounded their town. Over time, the spot became very soft and weak, allowing them to break through and escape. Oral narrations of the escape also indicate that to avoid pursuit and make good their escape, the people walked backwards with their faces towards the town so that their footprints appeared to be going into the town. Various activities take place during the festival, this includes, peace-making processes where all disputes are settled, purification of ceremonial stools, and general cleansing where the whole town is swept and the rubbish burnt. A grand durbar is held as usual to climax the festival.
11. Adae Kese
The Adae Kese festival is celebrated by the people of Ashanti in Ghana. It is the ninth Adae festival which occurs every six weeks hence the name Adae Kese. It is used to glorify the achievements of the Asante Kingdom and to usher in the new year. Th festival normally takes place between July and October each year according to the Akan calendar. The festival became prominent when statehood was achieved for the Ashanti’s between 1697 and 1699 after the war of independence. The festival was observed subsequently to the establishment of the Golden Stool (throne) in 1700. The festival was a time to consecrate the remains of the dead kings. These remains had been kept in a mausoleum at the sacred burial ground of Bantama, a royal suburb of Kumasi. The Adae Kese Festival follows the same rituals as the Adae Festival, however, in the celebration rites of Adae Kese, the chief carries a sheep for sacrifice to the stool. The purification ceremony of Odwira is celebrated during Adae Kese at the burial shrines of ancestral spirits. Every five years, the Adae Kese is hosted by the Asantehene in Kumasi and it lasts for 2 weeks. He holds a colourful durbar of chiefs and their queens on this occasion and they all turn up in full regalia where they showcase the rich culture of Asanteman. The festival is also the occasion when people pledge their confidence in the Asantehene.
Information for this publication was culled from wikipedia.