Homowo: How it all starts

Homowo: How it all starts

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By: Sheila A. WILLIAMS

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’s History through Homowo festival a spectacle to behold.

“Yeeyeye” celebration is the peak of the kpledzo festivals of the Gas. Homowo is the big celebration of the kple festival. The Gas believe that they migrated from Israel, to their present located Ga Mashie – Accra.

When they were coming, they met a lot of troubles on the way, this is what the Gas call “kple …ebaa ni na wo’’, which literally means may they live to experience the dance again.

At the time they settle finally in Ga Mashie, they settle with lots of lesser gods, that they call the “kple” deities gods, they also acquire other deities from the Fante’s that they had interactions with, they are call the “m33 deities.”

Every year, when the people of Ga celebrate this “Kpledzo – festival”, they perform the kple dance to acknowledge their deities and gods. However they argue that at the time of settling in Ga Mashie in Accra, they realized there was no food to eat. There was total drought on the land.

Later on when they had plenty of food to eat, they added the Homowo festival as the peak of the “Kple -dzo festival in honour of the gods.

During this time, the Homowo festival is celebrated to acknowledge that their god has come to bless them with plenty of food.

Homowo means “owa homo yee”…. Hooting at hunger; hunger we have finished with you, hunger you are no longer part of us.

Twin Festival

The Friday before the Saturday for the Homowo festival is the Twin festival, otherwise known as “Yeeyeeye festival”.

The belief is that twins are a blessing from God. Twins carry good omen for the family in which they come. Twins are deities of their gods.

When twins are born, the family go to the shrine or family deities to enquire about the mission of a particular set of twins; answers come through spirit mediums, predicting whether the twins have come to bless the family or curse them.

Gas, as a whole, believe in the blessings twins carry, and the notion that twins are from the spirit world. Consequently, twins are treated very special from other normal children, because if you do not treat them specially they bring you curse and the anger of the gods would come upon the family. Twins are honoured in a great way to the public spectacle. 

Honouring Twins

The last Friday before the Saturday for the Homowo all twins come together from very far and near, meet at their various family houses, eat, drink and make merry because the twins are believed to have blessed the entire family throughout the year.

In the morning of the Friday, in the twin family houses, a basin is filled with the following items: cassava peels, yam peels, egg yolks and shells, blood of fowls, goats, sheep, and other special medicinal leaves added with water. The basin is placed in the middle of the house or at the entrance of the house.

Everyone in the family with problem will draw near this basin speak or say their problems into the contents in the basin, wash their hands in this water, use this water to sprinkle over their bodies or wash their face into this basin.

This symbolizes all manner of curses following the person has been washed into the basin of water. It is believed that after performing this act all of a person’s curses, troubles, are taken away. Everything preventing them from inheriting good things has been dealt with spiritually; therefore, you are free and would enjoy another good year of god’s favours and blessings. 

Carrying of “Sese”/ Basin of water

At about 3:00pm the same day, when the sun is setting, libation is poured in every home, prayer is said, the spirit of the twins are invoked, there and then the basin is lifted and carried by either a set of twins or special people who are hired for the purpose. Those who are hired to carry the “sese” are appreciated either in kind or in cash form. This basin has to be taken to the rubbish dump and returned home before 6:00pm.

As soon as the “Sese” or basin touches the head of the one assigned, automatically that person become possessed. The person would carry the basin from the home, walking bear footed through the principle street of Ga Mashie to the rubbish dump, the final place to dump the “curses”.

Indirectly, the twins with the help of the gods carry the curses of the whole family away during the “yeyeeye” parade. The following day they all meet in their various houses and make merry.

In sum, the significance of the Twin festival is the “Cleansing of homes, bringing of good blessing to the homes and thanking the twins. 

Homowo Festival at large

Homowo is a festival celebrated by the Ga-Dangme tribe of Ghana. The festival starts with the planting of crops before the rainy season starts. During the festival, they perform a dance called Kpanlogo. The Ga-Dangme people celebrate Homowo in the remembrance of the famine that once happened in their history in pre-colonial Ghana.

The tradition of Homowo started with a period of hunger leading to famine due to failure of the seasonal rains needed by crops in the Greater Accra Region, where the Ga-Dangme people predominantly dwell. When the rains returned to normal, the Ga people celebrated by creating the Homowo festival, hence its name and meaning. Homowo is greatly celebrated in all the towns in the Ga state with celebrations climaxing at Ga Mashie.

The celebration begins with the planting of maize, which will be used in preparing the food for the festival named kpokpoi or kpekple. During the period, noise making is prohibited since it is believed that it will hinder the maturity of the crop. The meal is eaten with Palm Nut Soup and it is also sprinkled within the town. This is normally done by traditional leaders and family heads.

The Celebration includes marching down roads and streets beating drums, chanting, face painting, singing and traditional dances. On this day, there is usually a lot of traffic and roads are usually blocked off to accommodate the festival. Even though it is a Ga tradition, many other ethnic groups are welcomed to also join in the celebration.

The festival is celebrated every year in turns by the people of Nungua, Ga Mashie, Osu, Labadi, Teshie Tema and ends in Ga-Dangme areas in July through to August.

On this occasion, I wish my Tribal people a Happpy Homowo…Afi ooooo afi. Afi oooo afi – Happy New Year.

Joomo, Hewale, Shweremo, Shika, Noyaa, Kunimyeli afee wo fee wo no! Ni nyemi afee nyemi. Ni wosee afi le wo hi wala mli lolo. Ni wosee afi le ahi aha wo fe neke.

Blessings, health, prosperity, wealth, progress, victory and success to all Ga-Dangmes across the globe.

Tswa Omanye aba !!!!!…………………..

Writer’s e-mail address: eyram.williamsgh@gmail.com 

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