Traditional Festivals

Festivals in Ghana:

Festivals in Ghana are predominantly traditional cultural ceremonies celebrated by traditional areas normally comprising more than one town or village and often associated whole ethnic groupings.

Historical Background: These festivals are usually celebrated to commemorate important landmarks in the history of the people as thanks-giving or to seek divine protection and favor or to observe a traditional customary practice which is normally done annually a notable one is Dipo, an initiation rite by the people of Krobo in the Eastern Region. Some landmarks include victory in war, migration and founding of settlements. Funerals and naming ceremonies also form an important part of communal festivities in Ghana.

Characteristics: Traditional festivals in Ghana are mostly characterized by rituals such as pouring of libation and slaughtering animals more often sheep and rum to pacify or honor the ancestors and the Supreme Being of the people. The rituals which are in many cases carried out in private usually precede the main public events are merry making with sharing of fun; food and drinks and many more amidst music and dance. In some communities you witness variety of procession led by chiefs and Asafo (traditional soldiers) groups through the principal streets. Cultural performances are showcased with indigenous music and dance by the various social groupings in the community.

Dress Outfit: While the chiefs don bright glamorous cloths and smocks, the Asafo groups or the military wing of the traditional setup puts on war dresses which are often dull colors mostly brown and black and seemingly dirty. The festivities are normally climaxed with a durbar with chiefs, elders and traditional stakeholders dressed colorfully in their Africa traditional regalia. In some cases a thanks-giving church service is held the next day to round-up the celebration. The chiefs are decorated in gold and other expensive ornaments and often carried in palanquin. The youth on the other hand like to be in western-style attire and wide range of clothing tastes.

Significance: Festivals in Ghana are mainly used as home-coming events for most citizens who live abroad or outside their communities, a time of joyous re-union to deepen existing friendships while new ones meet in a wonderful social networking atmosphere. Festive seasons are also used strengthen family ties and offers fertile grounds for finding marriage partners and courtship. The events are also used to raise funds and plan for development projects in the community. Very importantly cultural festivals have become means of preserving societal traditional and cultural heritage. Cultural festivals in Ghana help the people appreciate their culture and know their history seamlessly.

The festivals offer conducive environment for dispute resolution and many families, clans, individuals and other bodies make use of these opportunities to resolve misunderstanding amongst them. The durbars usually attract political leaders and government functionaries who come to support projects, inform the people about government programs and policies and solicit the loyalty of people for various political agenda.

Season: Travelers and tourists will find it interesting to note that festivals in Ghana are spread across length and breadth of the country over the year from January to December and in every month there is a popular traditional festival to catch.