By Sheila A. WILLIAMS
Celebrated by the people of Ga (Accra) is the Homowo festival. The festival kick starts in the fifth month of the year (May), with the planting of crops before the rainy season begins.
History of Homowo
According to oral tradition, Homowo recounts the migration of the Gas and reveals their agricultural success in their new settlement. Severe famine broke out among the people during their migration to present day Accra. They were inspired by the famine to embark on massive food production exercises which eventually yielded them bumper harvest.
Their hunger ended and with great joy, eventually “hooting at hunger” – this is the meaning of Homowo.
The festival is celebrated every year in turns by the people of Osu, Labadi, Nungua, Teshie, Tema and Ga-Mashie in July or August.
Homowo is notable for the sprinkling of the festival dish called “Kpokpoi” to the gods and ancestors for spiritual protection. A procession of twins through the principal streets, traditional drumming and dancing and general merry-making usually describes the passion and great entertainment that comes with this historic festival.
During the month of May, there is a ban on noise making in the whole region or capital of Accra. Strict measures are usually put in place to enforce this ban and vigorous punishments are handed to offenders. Homowo is noted for its mind-blowing elements and practices.
Few things you may not have known about Homowo:
Celebrated to hoot at hunger
As translation from the native Ga language to English will showcase, Homowo means ‘’Hooting at hunger’’ but translated sometimes as ‘‘Shame to hunger”. It is believed that when the Gas migrated to their current place of settlement, they were greeted by serious famine for a period until eventually there was a bumper harvest of corn. The festival therefore makes a mockery of the hunger, which their ancestors suffered, by sprinkling food on the ground for the gods and ancestors of the land.
Thirty-day ban on drumming is imposed on the land by the priests
The festival is also preceded by a one month ban on noise making. No form of noise whether by drums, singing, PA systems or any form of sound output is allow. The punishments for offenders often include a variety of well-structured disciplinary tools such as fines, confiscation of items, etc. The ban is believed to give the gods and ancestors the peace of mind to prepare for the festival ahead and offer protection to the indigenes.
Celebration vary in each Ga tribe at different quarters
Just like many other festivals in Ghana, the festival is celebrated by different facets of the community. In the case of the Ga Tribe, a systematic time table has been drawn where the various suburbs take time to celebrate one after the other before the final grand celebration by the entire tribe. The beauty here is how every tribe or community joins in the celebration of another and each has its own way of celebrating the Homowo festival.
Fourth Day Mystery
No farming activity takes place on this day; and in some parts of the region a farmer is not allowed by native law and custom to even scratch the surface of the land. The mystery here has been discussed far and wide throughout the years with the question, why? Generally, locals believe it is the day when the gods and ancestors go out to harvest their own produce and prepare their meals and hence it will be disrespectful for locals to also do same or “dine with the gods.”
No demand of debt till after the Homowo Festival
Sometimes, many people disagree with this and most end up unhappy about this. However, it is Ga custom for citizens not to demand debt till the festival is over. Folktale has no reason for this but it is believed to allow debtors ample time to recover from expenses from the festival to be able to pay back debts.
The Durbar Day
The climax of the festival is the durbar of chiefs and people held at Ga-Mashie. No festival is complete without music and dancing and the Homowo is no exception. During the durbar, people from all parts of the country – those in the diaspora and foreigners turn up in their numbers to show deference to the paramount chief, who hitherto keeps himself away from public view. During this festival, the Kpalongo dance is performed.
The traditional drumming and dancing, cheering crowds, palanquins in different shapes and sizes and singing of traditional war songs, combine to make reliving the Ga people’s history through the Homowo festival a must-not-be-missed spectacle. Do make it a point to join the people of Ga on Saturday 12th August this year, for a treasured display.
Ga Adangbe and its tribes
Ablekuma – Aba Kuma wo,
Ashiedu Keteke – Anaa t3i, Anaa nngbe
Labadi – La gbe woo gbe
Osu – Osu Alata
etc , etc;
All these tribes or communities make up the Great Ga Kingdom.
Long live the Ga Kingdom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!