The Awoamefia of the Anlo State, Torgbi Sri III, welcomed his children and grandchildren across the globe to Anloga, the traditional capital of the Anlo State, yesterday to the 53rd Hogbetsotso-Za.
This must-attend festival, which is celebrated once every year, has bounced back after the installation of the Awoamefia, and the sons and daughters of the land are ready to welcome visitors with traditional Ewe hospitality.
Hogbe-Za starts traditionally from November 5, and climaxes today, Saturday, November 7. This year’s festival is on the theme: Anlo is Moving Forward in Unity, Peace and Development.
The Anlos believe that a united family eats from the same pot and that throughout the year until the festival a brother might wrong another and people might be harbouring some anger in them against the family, community and across the entire state.
Therefore, before the celebrations, November 5 is slated for all Anlos to forgive one another. Known as Nugbui Dodo, it is a day one has to be frank with the other and hold hands in unity and move the family and Anlo State forward.
Aside from that, traditional rulers sanctify the land through various rites and foster unity and peace among the people and pray for the health and safety of all, home and abroad, with the prayers that start with reverence to Mawu Segbo Lisa Kiti Kata – the immortal God in Heaven.
The most important day
The most important day in the celebration of Hogbetsotso is actually not the Saturday, which is the grand durbar, but the Friday where the Awoamefia will sit in state.
In Anloland, the Awoemefia is hardly seen in public, he is the most respected and protected, therefore on the Friday, to ensure that he is leading a united people, after the unification ceremony the Awoemefia then comes out to meet his subjects together with his 12 paramountcies or Fiagawo, Awadada, the Dusi-Fia and Emia-Fia and other chiefs who pay homage to him and receive a gift from him to signify the bond of brotherliness in the Anlo State.
Another unique reason why Awoamefia sits in state is to also allow his subjects to have full access and commune with him.
The Awoamefia does not speak in a vacuum or impose his will on the people. On Friday, the public has the chance to tell Awoamefia their thoughts and what is going wrong and they think should be attended to.
Awoamefia will then collate the views which will inform his speech that would be delivered at the grand durbar to the political class, the business community and the Anlo citizenry, home and abroad.
There is no doubt about Hogbetsotso which explains the exodus of Anlos from the confinement of Nortsie to the present settlements when they bravely danced backward to freedom after portions of the wall had fallen.
The Hogbe-Za, meaning Hogbetsotso Festival, tells the history of Anlos which brings to the fore the memories of the celebrated exodus, boldness and bravery of Anlos and the mystical powers that liberated them from the autocratic King Agorkorli.
The day is full of glamour, with the women dressed in traditional Tegayi with beads to match, with unexplained symbols on the skin, using different colours of clay as they dance while the men wear rich cloths with “jumpa” tops.
The people and the food
The people of Anlo are very united and welcome visitors with broad smiles and “Mia Woezor”.
Every first time visitor to Anloland falls in love with the traditional foods of the Ewes from agbelimor-and-amorku-kple, worde-wormie, and fetre and akpah detsi, yakayakae, dzen-kpele, the easy-to-prepare ewor kpele with the akpah kalami tadi or aborbi tadi (Keta schoolboys) in hot pepper.
Schoolchildren are not left out of the celebration; from the beginning of the week, every first cycle school in Anlo starts their own celebrations with beautiful dances in style to Agbadza, Husago, Atsiagbekor, Adgobo, Kinkar and other forms of dances just to ensure that they are part of the celebration.
STC’s Torgbui Dedzieafo
In the early days after independence until the temporary halt of the celebration, Hogbe-Za brought some of the warmest memories to every Anlo child, especially those from Atorkor through Srorgbe to Anloga where they stood by the road to watch various models of automobiles run by the State Transport Company (STC). To them, their Christmas started in November.
Fortunately, the STC has again resumed the fleet for this year’s Hogbe-Za to ensure safety.
Efo Doe Avorgbedor recalled his early days “I remember the double decker buses of STC we renamed “Torgbui Dedzieafo” will stop and carry people heading to the durbar ground at Anloga on foot.”
He said on the day, they the young ones got there early to witness the arrival of the various chiefs in palanquins in different silhouettes and ranges with the traditional war songs which usherred them in.
In the Anlo state, aside from fishing and farming, the people are very industrious and good traders .
A sampled view from the people by the Daily Graphic indicated that the people were looking forward to the revival of the Keta and Anloga markets.
Anloga and Keta markets in the past, they said, commanded patrons from across the lagoon and other parts of the Anlo state, as well as far away places such as Tema, Accra, Nzema, Kumasi, Togo and beyond but the is no more.
They want the highly silted lagoon, which is one of the main sources of economic activities of the people of Anlo State stretching from Adzido to Anyanui and beyond to be dredged.
Agriculture & Tourism
Some said dredging the Keta Lagoon and the banks would help to reclaim more land for agriculture and the reintroduction of more fingerlings into the lagoon.
Keta, which is the epitome of rich history, with the fort, beautiful white sand beaches, they noted, is losing its shine. If governments, past and present, had paid attention, the Anlo towns would not be what they are today.
Efo Korshie Zornoowoo of Anyako, said “If the Keta Lagoon is dredged, and the Akosombo Lake, which flows freely into the ocean can be dammed and occasionally opened to replenish the water levels in the lagoon, things will be different.”