Ghana is an African nation of 28 million citizens located among the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ghana was formerly called the Gold Coast before changing its name upon independence in 1957. The beautiful coastal towns of Cape Coast and Elmina are known for their colonial buildings, native temples, and castles that once played a major role in the mass suffering of those forced into slavery and traded between the Americas and the Caribbean.
Ghanaian cultural festivals are meant specifically to reinforce traditions and ties to communities and land. The festivals are a colourful and vibrant part of the culture. Each year festivals and durbars are held in various parts of the country to celebrate the heritage of the people.
Most people believe that festivals help them forge close bondage with their ancestors and ask for their protection. Festivals are also held in order to purify the whole state so that people can enter the New Year with confidence and hope.
Let’s take a look at the popular festivals in Ghana
The last word literally means “adorning of clothes.” It is the most important festival in the calendar and always celebrated on the first Saturday of September.
The citizens and chiefs celebrate to commemorate when their 77 gods intervened on their behalf to save Cape Cost from a deadly plague. To remember this deliverance, the durbar and warrior group join in slaughtering livestock and offering communal thanksgiving sacrifices to the deities during this celebration in Ghana. Join in observing women adorned in tribal garments drumming and dancing along to the music while the procession makes its way through the city. Besides men and children dressed in traditional clothing, the chiefs make their presence known by carrying giant umbrellas and sceptres as they walk side by side the tribespeople.
It is the most important annual festival. Homowo, meaning “hunger hoot,” is a celebration centered around the remembrance of a great famine which once affected the Kwa people. To remember this time in their history, Ghana’s chiefs and citizens take part in a large festival with folk singing, food and drink offerings, and prayers to their gods for another fruitful harvest.
Each August, the chiefs and tribespeople of Ada of Greater Accra celebrate the victorious triumphs fought by their ancestors in battling the Asfotufiam tribe for settlement in this region.
To re-enact these historic events, the “warrior” dresses in traditional battle dress and stage a mock battle. This is also a time when the young men are introduced to warfare. The festival also ushers in the harvest cycle, for this special customs and ceremonies are performed.
Aboakyir” literally, means “game hunting”. This popular festival is celebrated on the first Saturday of May by the chiefs and people of Winneba.
It’s centerpiece is the deer/ antelope hunt where the Effutu-Winneba people divide into two groups of hunters, dressed in full traditional regalia compete to hunt down and capture a bushbuck using only their bare hands. The Antelope is brought back alive to show the people the strength, power and courage of the warriors. This festival often takes place in May.
This festival takes place at Kumasi’s Manhyia Palace twice during each of the nine 42-day cycles into which their annual calendar is divided.
During the procession, there is much fanfare, with horns, drums, cultural dancing, and colourfully decorated costumes. The chiefs are presented high above the procession on a palanquin lift, which adds to the spectacle of this grand celebration that takes place every six weeks.