Bakatue, Panafest, Fetu Afayhe
The special occasions this year 2012 are the celebration of festivals Bakatue in Elmina, Panafest, Homowo in Accra and Fetu Afahye in Cape Coast.
The Bakatue Festival of Elmina starts in the first week of July. On Monday there is a special celebration. In the evening will be the traditional Akom dance. On Tuesday is the official opening day for the festival. That is where they are going to perform traditional rituals to open the lagoon to the sea. In this tradition the fishermen take an important role to race with their canoo in various teams. the best four will go to the finals. The winning team gets a special gift and they are the heroes of the year.
You can observe some men in white cloths, wo perform all the tradtitional activities on that day in front of the lagoon. One of them will carry leaves and other ingredients in a special tray on his head. They will walk to the water and enter the lagoon with the leaves and important ingredients. the men will sink to the ground of the lagoon with the tray and leave the items there. Only the empty tray will be brought up by the men. Tuesdays are special days for the people in Ghana. It is the day of the sea. That means no fishing no swimming. We leave the sea in peace. Afterwards they perform a ritual and pour libation. The chiefs and queen mothers will be in thei palanquins, elders and liguists will walk. This durbar will be accompanied with our traditional fontomfrom instruments. We all end up in the Elmina Park infront of the Castle. the musicians perform and the paramount chief gives speach. Sometimes the president of Ghana will be there by himself. If he can't come, one of his ministers will be there. It will be the official opening day. Now the parties go on all over Elmina and even spread to the rural areas.
Panafest it is special Festival held every two years in Ghana celebrating "the bringing Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora together " (from the official Panafest homepage). It is hold in many places all over Ghana and its activities is traditional music and art mixed with modern music and art and discussion. If you are interested in african music and art, this is the right place for you this year.
Additional in the end of the Panafest a big festival known as Ogua Fetu Afahye is held in Cape Coast. Powerful traditional activies will be showed there. On Thursday will be the traditional priest dance in the middle of Cape Coast. Ths is one of thoses special strong days of the festival, which opens the way and strengthen other activities to take part. When all those celebrations are over on Saturday it will be the day of all the chiefs, queenmothers linguist and elders and warrior groups will come together. The durbar will heat up on Cape Coast London bridge, where the symbol of the crab is standing. There you can see the strength of the warriors with their drum communication and waving of the flags. Every Asafo group is showing its warrior‘s power with their own waving style of the flag. Each movement gives message to the other groups.
Some years ago I saw a beautyful communication between the chief and its drummers and the palanquin carriers. The drummers where communicating with the chief so much so that in the end they heated up the chief and he was dancing with energy in his palanquin. The carriers received this energy and started to move the palanquin with dance steps. The drummers heat it more up. In the end it became a competition in between them. This you have to witness by yourself.
In the end of the festival everybody is meeting in the victoria parc near the castle and sea side with a lot of activities going on.
In August we celebrate the Homowo harvest festival in Accra. Homowo means in the Ga language "to hoot at hunger". Before this festival the traditional priests put a ban on drumming and on loud music for one month in Greater Accra. You can feel the silence of Accra every year in this special month. The wulomas and the traditional priests will go round and make sure, nobody will brake the ban. I saw them several times in my area Nima, because this is a migrant district of Accra. The people there come from all over Africa and you can hear 24hours music.
Twins play also a very important role in this festival. There will be a special performance for them. My favourit part of the festival is the kpekple. this is a special food out of cornflour and the red palmnutoil. The priests will spread this food around on special places in Accra. They offer it to the spirits. If you have friends among the Ga people, then you can enjoy the Kpekple with its special taste and soup with different sorts of fish, crabs and other seafood. It often goes with palmnutsoup or red oil sauce. The party then will also take part in Osu, the chiefs palace and other parts of Accra. You will see beautiful and coulorful dresses, traditional material and hairdresses from the Ga-people.
Come and enjoy these powerful festival with us. It is for all of us.
This year all of them are held after each other.