The chiefs and people of Dagbon last Monday night celebrated the annual Bugum (Fire) Festival with an impressive display of their rich cultural heritage.
The festival that was observed peacefully into the wee hours of Tuesday was witnessed by a large number of people, including politicians and some foreign tourists.
Those who could not resist the thunderous beatings of the gong-gong drums ( ziem), joined the revellers to dance away the night amid incessant firing of muskets and abundant display of fireworks.
The revellers, majority of whom were young men and women, went on a procession along the streets. Some nursing mothers, with babies strapped to their backs, did not allow their situation to prevent them from participating in the event.
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With lighted thatches and machetes raised above their sweaty bodies and talismans and cow tails dangling on their arms and waist, the ecstatic men and women danced energetically deep into the night.
The annual festival, which derives its source from the Islamic religion, is celebrated on the night of the ninth day of the Islamic month of Muha-ram, which is the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar and marks the beginning of the year.
The festival is celebrated among the people of the Mole Dagbani ethnic group and the Gonjas to signify the victory of Prophet Moses over Pharoh and also God’s blessing on Prophet Noah for the smooth sailing of his ark.
The celebrants start preparation towards the festival three days before it begin. It is a common spectacle to see people buying animals to pacify their gods and to re-energise their spiritual powers.
They gather at the palace of the chief for him to light the first thatch after which they join in the frenzy. The lighted thatches are finally disposed of at a thicket after which some learned mallams reveal the events that are likely to occur in the New Year.
Speaking on behalf of the chiefs, the Chief of Sagnerigu, Ambassador Naa Yakubu Abdulai, said the people of Dagbon had been blessed tremendously by God in all facets of human existence and underscored the need for intensified unity among the them.
The chiefs also used the opportunity to appeal to the government to help solve the development challenges facing the area and also appealed to the citizens of Dagbon to be worthy ambassadors of the great ancient kingdom wherever they found themselves.