There was joy at this year’s Aboakyer festival (Deer Hunt) of the people of the Effutu Traditional Area in the Central Region, after two Asafo companies made catches last Saturday, the climax of the event.
The festival, which resumed after a two-year suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attracted lots of interest and excitement from residents and guests as well. It was last held in 2019.
The Tuafo Number One Asafo Company was the first to bring a catch to an expectant and excited crowd. Moments later, the Dentsifo Number Two Group also appeared with the second deer.
The week-long festival is used to propitiate the main deity of the Effutu State, Penkye Otu.
Aboakyer is an ancient rite where sacrifices are traditionally offered to the god Otu to remove evil and predict a good harvest for the people.
This year's celebration was on the theme: "Together we build the road to a progressive society”.
The climax last Saturday at the Winneba Durbar Grounds was a colourful affair where the people showcased their rich culture and tradition to the admiration of all.
Adorned in rich and colourful kente and other gold ornaments, the chiefs walked majestically to the venue amid drumming and dancing.
The various asafo companies, who donned their respective identifiable outfits accompanied by brass band music, joined the procession.
The event attracted many people from far and near, including ministers of state.
Around 8a.m, the Tuafo Number One Asafo Group, whose members chanted victory songs, presented the live deer to the Omanhen of the Effutu Traditional Area, Neenyi Ghartey VII, at the durbar grounds.
As is the custom, the Omanhen stepped on the live deer three times - a symbol of satisfaction and acceptance of the catch, making the Tuafo Group winners of the competition.
Not long after, members of the Dentsifo Number Two Group also bought their catch, but with the rite already performed, they could only parade the second deer through the durbar grounds and the town, amid singing and jubilation.
Neenyi Ghartey urged the people to contribute to the development of the Effutu community, saying “in all fairness, the doors to participation in our civic responsibilities to our community remains open to all.”
"This is our dream, to see a strong society that does things with a united front. We hope to achieve our goal of a united Simpa soon," he said.
The Omanhen said festivals were part of the cultural identity of a people for which reason there was the need to sustain and protect the festival for posterity, irrespective of how arduous the hunt for the deer was.
“This is a moral and religious obligation in honour of our ancestral spirits and because of the rewards it bestows on the people, we will continue to observe it every year as required,” he added.
Nenyi Ghartey expressed appreciation to the government for the development of infrastructure in the area so far. He, however, called for the construction of a market befitting the status of Winneba.
The Central Regional Minister, Justina Marigold Assan, said the government would continue to support local authorities to unearth the tourism potential in their respective communities to help rake in revenue for development.
She, however, said that for the tourism industry to thrive, there must be sustainable peace, stressing that development does not happen in conflict situations.
For his part, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mark Okraku Mantey, said the ministry would continue to promote festivals to attract more tourists.