FESTIVALS IN GHANA

A Festival is a day or a period of celebration in memory of religious events or reason.There are varied of festivals in Ghana,It is celebrated across the length and breadth of the country,and it is celebrated from January to December.

Interestingly,all festivals in Ghana has a particular history or story behind it’s celebration,this makes festivals in Ghana very unique and applauding.The swashbuckling adventures and ecstasy during this time is very wonderful because most of the indigenous people use it as a special occasion to settle disputes,meet old and new friends,return from overseas or other places(homecoming) and to also make merry,feast and enjoy.Furthermore,most of the festivals celebrated in Ghana has a specific reasons why it is celebrated and is mostly a week-long or two weeks-long celebrations characterized by an activities.

          REASONS WHY IT IS CELEBRATED

History: As i said it earlier,every festival celebrated in Ghana has a historical fact behind it.This history might be Agriculturally motivated or for remembrance.It is a day used to remember a past deeds,epidemic,war,famine,heroics etc.

Socialization:This is the day people socialize with friends and families near and far,it is a day that social spirit is rekindled,a day of reunion and settling of disputes,people joke with old issues or childish issues,laugh and enjoy.

Religious:From time immemorial,our ancestors has believed in a certain Supreme powers or spirits,for this reason,a day is set aside to honor,celebrate and give thanks and sacrifice to this particular deity believed to have saved or sustained them.

Economic: Festival is also a day of homecoming and they use this as an opportunity to plan developmental issues,challenges and what can be done to make that very locality prosper and also to create a source of livelihood for the people.

Culture/Tradition:Culture is a way of life,so it is a day on which the people use the day to portray their arts,crafts,and more,infact it is a day that the people use their natural environment or resources to create something beneficial to them.It is a day that a certain locality showcase his way of life and what makes them feel that way or who they are.

Political: Every locality has a king,political wise,the he/she acts as a power of authority,before the emergence of presidency or presidential thing,our kings are sole responsible for managing the political,religious,social and economic affairs of the states with their elders.So they use this day to check how far the locality has developed,what system is being used to rule,who should be who and what and many more.

                                  FESTIVALS IN GHANA

OGUAA(CAPE COAST)FETU AFAHYE

A brief History :In the olden days,the Fanti’s were struck by a strange plague that wiped half of the people at that time,so upon consultation from the oracle or the gods,they were told to do away with dirt since it is the main cause of the epidemic,they heeded to what the gods has instructed and they were saved by the strange plague,so they instituted a day to remember this devastating period.That is,they use the day to move away all dirt and bad omen from the town hence the name Fi tu(do away with dirt) or a sanitation day.

Fetu-Afahye
Fetu Afahye

HOW IT IS CELEBRATED:This festival is one of the popular and vibrant festivals in Ghana,it is celebrated on the first Saturday of September,but there are activities through the week,thus from Sunday to the grand Saturday.Before the Festival,certain rituals will be conducted during the night to sweep away all dirt,bad omen and any evil spirit into the Fosu Lagoon,the night is called Wonhyia(abomination to look or meet),sources said,it is a day that The 77 gods of Cape Coast who are obliged to steer the affairs of the town or who are believed to help the Fanti’s during the epidemic are moved around town to perform the said rituals,this rituals are accompanied by special custodians or priest and priestesses who are in charge of the Fosu Lagoon called Amissafo. A ban on all forms of noise making is placed for two weeks amid cleansing of the town as well as banning of fishing in the Fosu Lagoon,a white wash paint called Kadoo is used to paint all the town and important places,a day is also ushered to clean all the town from dirt,this day is called Emmintsimadze(sanitation day),Monday night is a day to invoke the gods amid drumming and dancing by the priest and priestesses from all the city and environs,this is held near the Fosu Lagoon.The Tuesday is the draining of the Fosu Lagoon after the lifting of the ban,a canoe regatta is also held,this occasion is also used to sacrificed a matured bull/cow to Nana Paprata on the Thursday,before the sacrifice,is a procession of foodstuffs from the market women through the principal street to the Palace.

asafo-company
An Asafo(army) company with the symbol of their deity.

The Saturday is the climax and grand durbar,all the kings are carried in colorful palanquin through the principal street to Victoria Park,this day is also used to socialize,settle disputes,meet old friends and relatives,make merry,feast,chill and enjoy.Sunday is for all denomination church service,after that a football games or any other recreational activities are held to wrap up the Festival.

EDINA(ELMINA) BAKATUE: This Festival is celebrated on the first Tuesday of July. Bakatue means draining the (Baanya)lagoon into the sea,it is celebrated to give thanks to the chief god for a bumper fishing season,they also ask for protection and guidance.A lot of activities are held include carrying the chiefs in a palanquin through the streets,drumming,dancing and more,a canoe regatta is also held on the Baanya lagoon after the casting of the net to signify the new fishing season.

bakatue-festival
Edina(Elmina)bakatue-festival

SIMPA ABOAKYIR(WINNEBA DEER HUNTING)FESTIVAL

A brief History: When the Simpa’s are coming from the Southern part of Sudan,they came along with their god call Otu ,the people settled the god at a place called Penkyi so the god became Penkyi Otu. Penkyi demanded that, a male from the royal side should be sacrificed every year,as time passed,the royal line who could become kings of the kingdom began dwindling so they pleaded to Penkyi who told them to offer a leopard,this also resulted in higher casualties before they could catch the cat,so they pleaded again which the god told them to offer a Deer.

Aboakyir
Aboakyir deer hunting Festival

Aboakyir means deer/buck hunting and it is used to test the strength and endurance of the youth as well.It is celebrated on the first Saturday of May and starts with a competition between two factions of Asafo groups/companies who hunt for the deer called Tuafo and Denstifo. This day is characterized by many activities like dancing to the brass bands,procession of chiefs and many more.

HOMOWO FESTIVAL

Homowo means hooting at hunger,it is celebrated by the chiefs and people or the Ga municipality,it is an agricultural festival celebrated to remember their past tragic story,during this day,a libation is poured and a traditional food prepared with maize called Kpokpoi or Kpekple is sprinkled in the locality as an offering for the gods and a sign of abundance of food.

Homowo Festival
Homowo Festival

Brief History: A serious famine swept the Ga land and killed many,upon the intervention from the gods they were told to plant a maize at a particular place at a certain time,they were later saved and they got food in abundance so they instituted this day to honor the gods.It  a a day of merry making and feasting.

 JANUARY

Bugum  or Fire festival

It is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Dagbon, Gonja, Mamprusi and Nanumba tradional area,it is held on the first week of January.It is celebrated by almost all the ethnic groups in the Northern Ghana. both Muslims and non-Muslims take part in the celebration. Bugum or fire festival is observed by the Northerners to mark the landing of prophet Noah’s Ark after the flood,non-Muslims used this day to make offerings to their ancestors,since the festival marks the beginning of a new year.It is believed that an Ark landed in the night and torches were lit to enable prophet Noah and his people to see whether they were on land.Other sources also suggest that a king lost his son and when night fell,they lit torches in order to search for the prince in the night,that is where the Bugum originated.

Bugum Festival
Bugum Festival of Northern Ghana

Rice Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Akpafu, in the Volta Region,it is a harvest festival,during this time,a sacrifice and libation is poured to their gods for protecting them and giving them a bountiful harvest.

February

Papa Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Kumawu,in the Ashanti Region to remember their ancestors and the departed ones.This day is used to pour libation and offer sacrifices,it is also a day of feasts and merry making.

Dzawuwu Festival:Is celebrated by the people of Dabala, in the Volta Region. It is an Annual traditional and thanksgiving festival of the Agave people,it is also used to ask for protection from the gods and ancestors.

March

Damba Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Tamale, Yendi, Walewale, Nalerigu in the Northern Region,the festival has its root in Islam. It celebrates the birth of the prophet Mohammed.During this day,the chiefs accompanied by their entourage and warriors dress in colorful hand-woven smock or Fugu and dance to tumultuous and vibrating beats of the gong-gong drums.

Kpledjoo Festival: it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Tema in the Greater Accra Region,this day is used to offer sacrifice and pour libation at the Sakuma Lagoon and ask for bumper harvest.The climax is a grand-durbar of chiefs and people and general merry-making as well as passionately free-for-all hugging.

Apoo Festival: This is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Tekyiman in the brong Ahafo region.It is a purification festival instituted to cleanse the society against all forms of evil. The festival last for one week and includes a variety of recreational and cultural activities,it ends on the sixth day with the “Apoo” procession, when insinuations are cast about the evil doings of some of the citizens.

April

Jintigi Fire Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of the Gonjaland in the Northern Region to commemorate the search of a lost son of an ancient king.Among the activities to mark the festival is the procession of torches at night into the bush or outskirts of towns and villages within Gonjaland. There are also Koran recitals to forecast the new year amid,feasting and merry making.

Dipo Festival:it’s a ritual Puberty initiation festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Manya Krobo and  Yilo Krobo in the Eastern Region of Ghana.During this celebration,adolescent girls are adorned in beautiful beads and half-clothed with colorful Kente cloth.

Dipo
A Dipo Puberty Rite

This festival is presided by the queen mother and the chief priestesses who initiates these girls into womanhood,they were also led to perform certain rituals.

May

Dzohayem Festival: This festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Osudoku in the Greater Accra region.This festival commemorates how the ancestors of the Osudokus descended from the Osuyem Hill to their present home,sacrifices and libation are poured to the gods for protection and guidance,there are also drumming and dancing as well as merry making.

June

Ohum Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Akyem Traditional Area.This festival is celebrated twice a year in June/July and in September/October. It marks the anniversary of the Akyem Nation,they also use this day to worship the ancestral stools and the spirits of those who occupied them. The celebration also marks the first yam harvest of the year,libation and sacrifices are poured to asks for blessings,guidance and protection for the coming year.

Agadevi Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Hohoe in the Volta Region.Agadevi festival was instituted to commemorate a major tragic landslide 75 years ago on a part of the Akwapim/Togo range. The annual festival brings chiefs and people from this area together to thank God for saving their lives.

July

Asafotu-fiam Festival: This is for the chiefs and people of Ada near Tema and it is celebrated on the last Thursday of July until the first weekend in August,it is celebrated to commemorate the victories of past battles as well as those who died.Participants dress in traditional gear and stage mock battles,they do this to introduce the youth to acknowledge the warrior lifestyle of their ancestors.The festival also ushers in the season of harvest and acts as a purification ritual to bring the people prosperity in the coming year. On the Sunday,a church service is held and the following days are filled with beach parties, a Traditional military groups called “Asafo Companies” dance through the street amid drumming and singing, there are boat races, river excursions and football matches.

Yaa Asantewa Festival/Etuhu Akye:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Ejisu-Juabeng in the Ashanti region.People from all walks of life come to grace the occasion and to pay homage to Nana Yaa Asantewaa the brave Ashanti war heroine and those exiled to the Seychelles with her.In 1900, at the age of 60,she took a role as a man to lead over 10,000 men to resist British imperialism in what is now known as the Yaa Asantewaa War. The Ashanti’s fiercely resisted British attempts to colonize their territory when the empire was at it’s peak.The people use this day to remember what Nana Yaa Assantewa did,libation is poured during this day and also ask for protection from their ancestors and the gods.

August

Akwambo Festival:it’s for the people and chiefs of Agona Nyakrom in the Central Region and it is held on the first Sunday in August. Akwambo literally means “the making of a way. It commemorates how their ancestors migrated from the Bonomansu to their present home,during this day,a sacrifice,libation and offerings were offered to the gods and ancestors for their protection.Chiefs were paraded through the street amid drumming and dancing as well as feasting and enjoyment.

Odambea Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Saltpond or Akyemfo in the Central Region on the last Saturday of August.They use this festival to remember the migration of the “Nkusukum” people centuries ago from Techiman/Bonomanso to their present settlement. “Odambea” means “fortified link”,representing the “Nkusukum” helped in keeping the migrant groups in touch with each other following their exodus from Techiman. The people imitate what happened years ago to feel what their ancestors went through,it is a day when all people from Saltpond meet to enjoy and pray to their ancestors and gods for guiding them.Sacrifices and libation are poured during this day.

September

Odwira:it’s a harvest and thanksgiving festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Akuapim in the Eastern region from last Thursday of July till the first weekend in August and also in September and October. Odwira is an Akan word which means purification.The festival is a period of purification and cleansing. Before the celebration of the actual festival,a period of forty days is declared as a period for meditation and rest. This period is known as”Adaabutuw”. First day, which is mostly Mondays is set aside for clearing the path leading to the royal mausoleum.On the second day, it is a taboo for any Akuapem citizen to eat any new yam. On the third day relatives especially those who died during the past year are remembered. Forth day is declared as the feasting day and the grand durbar of chiefs is on Friday.

otumfuo osei tutu II
Otumfuo Osei tutu II

Akwantutenten festival(Long Journey):it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Worawora in the Volta Region on September/October.History has it that, the people of Worawora migrated from Kuntenase near Lake Bosomtwe in the Ashanti Region to their present settlement in 1774. The long trip made by the people from Ashanti Region to the Volta Region brought about the name of the festival called , the Long Journey”. Sometimes the King of Ashanti participate with them. In 2001,Otumfuo Osei Tutu II took part in the celebration of the festival. The festival is mostly held in September/October. Aside the festival is noted for bringing together the people of Asante and that of Worawora in the Volta Region of Ghana.

October

Kobine Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Lawra in the Upper West Region in August,its a four day festival and serves as harvest and homecoming celebration,for the people who have left Lawra. The first day serves as a day of rest for those who have traveled from far away. The second and third days are the official festival days. The festival begins with the procession of the traditional chiefs. Each  participant is clothed with their most beautiful smocks while walking under huge parasols. The procession is led to the festival ground by a group of men portraying elephant “hunters”. The “hunters” are dressed in traditional hunting attire, including bows and arrows. These hunters are accompanied by a large group of musicians and drummers from the Lawra Chief’s palace.

November

Hogbetsotso Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Anloga in the Volta region from the first Saturday of September.The festival commemorate how they escaped from their tyrant and cruel king AgoKoli in Notsie led by a priest called Togbe Tsali,history has it that he made the people walk backwards in other to confuse them that they are coming rather than going away or escaping,he also instructed the women to pour water on a particular place to make it weak for them to escape.

hogbetsotso-festivals
Hogbetsotso-festivals

He was the one who helped them to reach their present home,afterwards the people instituted the festival to remember their ancestors achievement. There are many ceremonies during this festival including a peace-making period where all outstanding problems are supposed to be resolved. There is also a purification ceremony where villages are swept and rubbish is burnt. This begins at the Volta Estuary and goes on for days until it reaches the Mono River in Benin. The highlight is when the chiefs dress in very colorful regalia and sit in state.

Kwafie Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Dormaa Ahenkro, Berekum and Nsuatre in the Brong Ahafo Region Between November and  December.The Dormaas are known to have brought fire to Ghana and this legend is celebrated amid many other activities including the burning of a large bonfire. This is a period when all the descendants of the original Dormass come home to a grand reunion which includes a pageant of the royal courts, drumming and dancing.

December

Eyok Festival:it’s celebrated by the chiefs and people of Sandema,the Builsas. This is a war enactment festival which rekindle the ancient heroic exploits of the Builsas amid drumming and dancing, the gods are invoked for protection and for a bountiful harvest,sacrifices and libation are poured,there is also feasting and enjoyment during this day,people wear their lovely colorful Northern Smocks during this occasion.

You can get a lot of festival update at the tour watch blog page.

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Summary

Festivals in Ghana.A Festival is a day or a period of celebration in memory of religious events or reason.

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