I don't take names lightly. Although many people often hold the view that you cannot judge a book by its cover, I do judge movies by their titles.
Yes, I do and will always do. So, the very first time I heard about the movie, Ancestral Treaty, I was in haste to see it. Ancestral Treaty is yet to be premiered but I had the singular opportunity to watch it when I saw a teaser of it on Facebook.
Ancestral Treaty, like any other hit African movie, was shot in a very well known tourist site - Tanoboase Sacred Groove in the Brong Ahafo Region, which I happen to have visited the place before.
According to oral tradition, the Tanoboase sacred caves, which house a popular deity called “Taakora,” is of great importance to both the Bono and and other Akan people because all the fetish priests and priestesses who serve deities and speak Akan languages must first come to the Taakora deity for some rituals to be performed for them. Taakora deity is regarded as the father of all Akan-speaking deities.
Think about the title and the location and you can easily picture some interesting scenes. Do you get my drift? Let me tell you a gist about this movie.
Asantewa is forced to stop schooling and taken to a shrine to serve as the priestess, which according to her father, was her birthright.
Several attempts to escape this tradition didn’t work, so finally, she gives up and embraces her father’s idea to serve at the shrine. Asantewa’s desire of acquiring formal education is almost lost until her step-brother intervenes. Her step-brother, who is a staunch Christian strongly opposes the decision to let Asantewa serve at the shrine.
But his opposition is faced with a strong resistance from both the gods and his father.
Would Asantewa's father kowtow to the pressures from his Christianized step-son by withholding his decision to allow her daughter to serve the gods, knowing the implications of his breaking the covenant with the gods?
Ancestral Treaty tells the story of many Africans and for that matter Ghanaian children. Many children have been forced to serve deities in their families against their will either by their parents, clan heads or relatives.
The story recounts a typical African fetish belief in bringing a person to serve the gods. Although Ancestral Treaty can be horrifying, it tells the true story of what a person has to go through to be a priestess in a shrine.
The cast for the movie includes George Lain, popularly known as Kohwɛ; Eunice Banini; Kaf Junior; Michael Afrane; Loretta Clarke; Portia Denyo; Afia Poku Gifty and Nass Asante.
Eunice Banini, one of the cast
Kohwɛ is one of Ghana’s funniest comedian-cum-actors with a natural flair to get viewers on a side-splitting trip. From his mannerisms to the delivery of his lines, Kohwɛ can easily have his own spin to make even a boring movie interesting.
The movie was written by Mouse Instincts; produced by Roosevelt Eric Adom; directed by John F. Kennedy and sponsored by Mr. Hebert Abeka of Beksfel Construction Limited, Sunyani.
Roosevelt Eric Adom in an interview said he came up with the concept to tell the true story of the African religion and that of the Christian faith.
He said he was also encouraged to go into the issue because there had been several distortions of the concept in some Ghanaian movies.
"Many Ghana movie producers don't come up with such movies because they think about the cost and forget about the moral lessons as well as the solution it will bring in our societies," he explained.
According to Roosevelt, the story was based on a true-life story, which he thinks, must be shared with the rest of the world. He said no matter anyone's religious faith, it should not be used as the basis to deny any child formal education.
Asantewa in a spirited mood
"We cannot use our religious affiliation to justify denying our children formal education," he said, adding "It is against any child's right to be pulled out of school and forced into serving any deity".
Roosevelt expressed the worry that the African child, particularly the girl child should not be treated with contempt but given equal opportunities and access as their male counterparts.
The African concept of divinity dates back into the past unknown. Because of our strong construct of divinity, Africans for many centuries until the coming of the Europeans and the Arabs relied on their deities for various reasons. They believed that these gods were our mediators and protectors.
Similarly, they had a belief that these gods were capable of blessing those who exhibited good character. These gods were also capable of punishing people who did bad things or went against their wishes. Because of these beliefs, many villages, households and families entered into different covenants with these deities, including letting a family member to serve the gods as priests or priestesses on their shrine. When a member is appointed to serve the gods, the person has no reason or excuse to refuse to serve in the shrine. Such was the case of Asantewa in Ancestral Treaty.
Location and costume
As indicated, the movie was shot at Tanoboase. The place is very significant to the concept of the movie. The Tanoboase Sacred Groove, which in the past served as a fortress for the Bono symbolically sets the friction between the Christian and traditional faith against the realities of today.
The costume of the actors and actress as well as the items used in the movie depicts a traditional Ghanaian society, and serves as ready eye-opener for anyone unfamiliar with the Ghanaian traditional society.
This is one movie that will no doubt entertain viewers - exactly what you expect when you pack comedians and veteran actors and actresses in one movie. Everyone featured in the film gave their best on set.