Dagbon celebrates ‘Bugum’ festival

BY: Samuel Duodu
Ya-Na Abukari II in war regalia as he commences preparation for the celebration of the Bugum festival in Yendi
Ya-Na Abukari II in war regalia as he commences preparation for the celebration of the Bugum festival in Yendi

The annual Bugum (Fire) festival of the people of Dagbon in the Northern Region was last Wednesday night celebrated in all parts of the area with pomp and ceremony.

The celebration of the time-tested festival was led by the Overlord of Dagbon, Ya-Na Abukari II, in Yendi.

The event was characterized by the usual musketry, amid beating of drums, lighting of straws and singing of war songs by people of all walks of life.

The highpoint of the festival was when the Ya-Na emerged out of the Gbewaa Palace in war regalia and lit a straw to signify the commencement of the festival and to demonstrate the restoration of the past glory of Dagbon on the path of peace, unity and progress.

This is the second time in succession that the Ya-Na had celebrated the Bugum festival since his enskinment in January 2019.

For a period of about 16 years since the death of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II in 2002, the celebration of the festival was suspended in Yendi until the final performance of his funeral and the subsequent enskinment of Ya-Na Abukari II.

The festival also passed off peacefully in other major cities and traditional towns in Dagbon where the chiefs and people defied the cold weather after a heavy downpour and came out in their numbers.

It included Tamale, Savelugu, Diare, Tolon, Kumbungu, Mion, Gushegu, Karaga and Zabzugu.

The celebrants, both the young and the old, who were in a procession, danced and sang deep into the night.

Significance

The significance of the festival is to promote peace, unity and oneness among the people of Dagbon, including safeguarding their rich cultural heritage.

The festival is celebrated on the ninth day of the first month of the Lunar year.

The festival is celebrated by descendants of the Mole-Dagbani kingdom in remembrance of how a son of a great Dagbon Chief went missing, compelling the entire community to go in search of the prince.  And when night fell, they had to light straws amid chanting, drumming and singing of war songs.

After a thorough search, they eventually found the prince deeply asleep under a tree and took him to the palace upon which the chief declared the said tree evil.

The Ya-Na called for the consolidation of the prevailing peace in Dagbon to facilitate the accelerated growth of the area.

He acknowledged that the enemies of the people were unemployment and poverty and, therefore, directed the sons and daughters of Dagbon to channel their energies and resources into ventures that would help to improve the quality of life in the area.

Education

The Ya-Na also advised the people to pay serious attention to the education of their children by ensuring that they do not only send them to school, but ensure that they support them to attain greater heights in life.  

Some residents who also spoke to the Daily Graphic expressed their joy and satisfaction for the peaceful celebration of the festival.

A resident, Abdul Latif, prayed that the people would continue to live together in peace to portray the rich traditional and cultural heritage of Dagbon.

“Now I can see and feel that peace has returned to Dagbon. We thank God for His mercies and grace", Hajia Safiatu Iddrisu, also said.

For his part, Yussif Naa-Belli, a staff of the Yendi Government Hospital, said: “With this renewed spirit of unity, oneness and togetherness, we can work to speed up development in Dagbon”.