Importance of Festivals
Festivals are very important in several ways: historically, religiously, socially, economically, culturally, morally and politically in the lives of Ghanaians. See our timetable of festivals below.
It makes the people know more about their history. For instance, the Nyidwoo festival of the people of Esumegya makes the people and for that matter Asantes it know more about their origin.
Also, the Homowo Festival reminds the people of Ga-Adangme to know much about how they have come out of hunger by settling at their present day area. It makes the people recollect the noble past of their ancestors, and to express their gratitude to them.
The people believe in the existence of the ancestral spirit, hence they ask for forgiveness of offence committed, petition the supernatural powers for material prosperity, peace and long life. There is continuity between the dead and the living.
It serves as reunion of family members, relatives and love ones. At this time, quarrels and misunderstandings are settled.
It provides a forum where marriages among people within a particular geographical area can be transacted.
The youth at this stage get the chance of arranging marriages, (to court). Besides, the period is characterised by merrymaking and entertainments.
It brings most of the citizens together. This helps them to initiate development projects and to contribute financially towards these projects. Visitors who also come to witness the festival contribute economically to the locality.
It gives the people chance to asses the efficiency of their chiefs. Most citizens who left the town for so long a time return to see whether the traditional ruler (the chief) had implemented development projects agreed upon.
Homage is paid to the chiefs. Sub-chiefs also renew their allegiance to their immediate boss. For example, local chiefs to paramount chief (Omanhene) and in Asante Omanhene to the Asantehene.
Government ministers even take advantage of the festival which has brought a lot of people (Citizens) together to announce development projects, government policies to the people and to educate them on important issues affecting the locality, town or an area.
The rich cultural heritage of the people are usually being manifested during festivals.
With the people of Asante chiefs, they may be decorated in the traditional Kente cloth gold ornaments and carried in a palanquin especially the Asantehene or the paramount chief (omanhene).
Ghanaian hospitality can also be seen in this regard. The ways the people speak and relate to others portray their culture of friendliness.
It strengthens all to play their roles as good citizens. It provides a forum where the chief must be more effective, morally upright, and
Accountable to the people. For instance, the Apoo festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Techiman traditional area gives the people chance to talk about the inefficiencies of the chief as well as his ill doings.
It again reminds the youth to lead morally acceptable life so that, they may grow to become good people, whose lives are worthy of emulation by the future generation.
FESTIVALS IN GHANA
One of the most attractive aspects of the Ghanaian culture is the colorful traditional festivals and durbars which are heldyearly in all parts of the country. These festivals reveal somecommon features and beliefs of our society. Through thefestivals, the people remember their ancestors and ask fortheir protection. Festivals are also held in order to purifythe whole state so that people can enter the New Year withconfidence and hope. Below are some major festivals to whichyou are invited.
A Description of a few of the major festivals in Ghana
ABOAKYIR (Deer hunting)
A hunting expedition by two Asafo groups to catch liveantelope. The first group to present its catch to the Chief ata colorful durbar is declared winner and is highly regarded forbravery. Winneba, 17 miles west of Accra.May.
BAKATUE (Fish Harvesting)
A royal procession of chiefs and stool holders riding inpalanquins through principal streets to a sacred shrine wherechiefs pour libation and sprinkle sacred food. Pouring ofmashed yam and eggs into the Bake (lagoon), followed byscooping with a net, after which permission is given tofishermen to open the fishing season, after a ban. Festivalculminates in a regatta. Edina/Elmina, 99 miles west of Accra.July.
FETU AFAHYE (Harvest commemorating first contact with whites)A colorful procession of chiefs, amid drumming, dancing andfiring of musketry. There is a uniqueness in the attire.Sacrifice of a cow to the seventy-seven (77) gods of Oguaa.Cape Coast (Oguaa), 90 miles west of Accra.August/September.
Ceremonies for this festival include a procession of chiefsthrough principal streets with all twins in the area dressedpurposely for the occasion. All this is done amidst thesprinkling of festive food kpokpoi to the gods and ancestors ofthe state.Accra/Ga Traditional Area.August/September.
DAMBAOriginally linked with the birth of Mohammed, the Prophet ofAllah. This festival has assumed a traditional character A two-day festival full of pageantry, showmanship and horse riding.Tamale/Yendi, 425 miles north of Accra.September/October.
HOGBETSOTSOSymbolizes the migration of Anlos from the tyrannical ruler ofNotsie in older day Togoland to their present homeland inGhana. There is a re-enactment of this migration, whichinvolved walking backwards, performed by women, children, theold and the young alike.Anlo Traditional Area, 88 miles east of Accra.November.
FIOK (War festival)
A war festival to re-enact ancient historic exploits of theBusa people. There is a durbar, as well as drumming, dancing,and thanksgiving to the gods.Sandema.December.
ADAE (festival of Purifying of the Ashantis’ ancestral stools)
Festival of the Asante. Celebrated every 40th day. Especiallymagnificent when it falls on a Sunday.Kumasi, 168 miles (272 kilometers) north of Accra.
This festival dramatizes the tradition myths and legends of the
people, and commemorates a period of remembrance andthanksgiving to the gods for their mercies in the past year,and renewal of family and societies. A durbar of chiefs crownsthe celebration amidst drumming and dancing.Akropong Traditional Area, 90 miles north of Accra.September.Adae Kese Festival
(“big resting place”) is a celebration of the Ashanti. It glorifies the achievements of the Asante kingdom.It is also the occasion when the purification ceremony of Odwira is performed at the burial shrines of ancestral spirits. Generally, this coincides with the harvest season of yam and hence the ritual was also called the “Yam custom” by Europeans.