There are about 70 major annual traditional festivals in Ghana, celebrated either to memorialize harvest seasons (the most common type, usually after the rainy season), migration or territory expansion history, stool cleansing and more. Such events consecrate family and communal bonds, while extolling the colourful cultures and instilling spirituality of the people.
Aboakyir – May
Effutu-Winneba people observe Aboakyir, literally meaning ‘game catching’, every first Saturday in the month of May. Two Asafo groups, Tuafo and Denkyefo, go on a procession into the forest for a competitive deer hunt (formerly a leopard hunt), after which rituals are done to pacify the gods This is followed by a grand durbar with the chiefs, queen mothers and elders to vivify the ceremonial and cultural experience.
Bakatue – July
Bakatue, celebrated by the people of Elmina, symbolizes the ‘process of discharge’as the Benya Lagoon becomes one with the sea to commence the fishing season. There are a lot of activities significant of honouring the deities – who are the agencies of reinforcement of the fishing community. One is the ‘net casting’ ceremony, where the catch is offered to the gods. It is celebrated annually in Elmina on the first Tuesday in July. A splashy durbar of chiefs and people amid drumming and dancing, as well as a hued display of canoes on the lagoon mark the celebrations.
Asafotufiam – July to August
From the end of July to early August, the people of Ada in the eastern parts of the Greater Accra region commemorate victories and defeats in past clashes with Asafotufiam. Also, to usher in the harvest season, ceremonial formalities are observed. There is a mock battle performance with elegant costumes, stool cleansing rituals and libation, durbars amid processions with chiefs in palanquins, and music and dance involving men and women adorned in variegated beads.
Oguaa Fetu Afahye – September
Visit Fetu Afahye in early September in Cape Coast for the unique durbar and warrior group (asafo) processions. Ritual functions are observed such as libation and slaughter of livestock, to show appreciation to the 77 deities in the area. Just like in the Ga Traditional area, there is a ban on drumming, music and noise-making prior to the occasion. Also, fishing in the Fosu lagoon is paused. Alongside drumming and dancing by women, there are men and children clad in kente, gold ornaments and processions by chiefs and elders in palanquins bearing large umbrellas and scepters on the grand days. The Amuntumadeze (health day) and Adamma (rituals day) are also observed.
Hogbetsotso – August to September
The Anlo Ewes escaped from the reign of terror by ruler Agorkoli to Notsie by walking backwards to evade their pursuers. To commemorate this exodus, Hogbetsotso is celebrated every September. It is also a peace-making opportunity to resolve qualms, aside stool purification and environmental sanitation exercises.
Akwasidae – Once every six weeks
Manhyia Palace opens its doors to all and sundry during the special Sunday cultural experience called Akwasidae. The Ashanti kingdom boasts of intricately structured customs to strengthen the bonds among queen mothers, chiefs, sub-chiefs, elders and the people. The palanquin lift goes with horn sounds and fontomfrom thumps, and the kete or adowa dancing makes the colourfully adorned kente with gold trinkets an intriguing spectacle.
Chale Wote Festival – August
The vibrant CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival, which gathered over 30,000 people last year, marks exchanges between Ghana-based artists/educators and international cronies in Accra’s streets. The multi-disciplinary community-based experience takes place in Jamestown; one of Accra’s most historic communities used as a port for movement, sales and confinement during days of exploitation and systematization of colonialism. It is such a refreshing, alternative platform to reconnect with intuitive concepts engineered for free form call-and-response expressions through performance, conversations and extensions of culture. The nineth annual CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival takes place in Accra, Ghana from August 22nd to 29th, 2019 on the theme: Wata Mata, the final installment of the trilogy (others being African Electronics and Spirit Robot).
Sabolai Festival – August
Sabolai is the must-experience African indie music showcase which happens annually in Accra every December. There’s the best of original music from the mainstream and alternative scene, the contemporary scape to traditional tableau, fusions and non-conventional streams. 2019 is its tenth year, and we look forward to jam at the centre of the earth with you.
Nkabom Literary Festival – August
Nkabom Literary Festival goes out to network poets, novelists and spoken word artists with photographers, DJs, painters, illustrators, theatre artists, musicians, etc; with the inter-weaving of diverse content magnifying the perimeters that literature in commonplace is thought to accomplish. This year, the theme is ‘Unscrambling Africa’and it runs in Accra from August 21st to 24th.
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