Ga Mashie marks Homowo in unity

BY: Joshua Bediako Koomson
Nii Teiko Tsuru II (middle), the Ga Mantse, sprinkling  kpokpoi during the festival
Nii Teiko Tsuru II (middle), the Ga Mantse, sprinkling kpokpoi during the festival

The chiefs and people of Ga Mashie of Accra last Saturday celebrated the annual Homowo festival with the sprinkling of kpokpoi, the festival’s traditional food, at heritage sites and family houses.

The Gbese Mantse, Nii Ayi-Bonte II, accompanied by the Adontenhene of the Ga State, ushered in the sprinkling processes in accordance with custom in a fashion guided by the limitations imposed by COVID-19.

At the Ussher Fort, the traditional starting point of the sprinkling process, Nii Ayi-Bonte led a solemn prayer session for the people in the morning, asking for peace to reign among the people and for God’s blessings to enrich the Ga community.

He then proceeded to each of the seven quarters of Ga Mashie to perform the traditional rite, with women, clad in the traditional attire, in tow.

The Gbese Mantse also shared the traditional meal, prepared from corn dough, with the people as he embarked on his procession through the various family homes.

The occasion

The entire Ga Mashie was literally lit in red as the chiefs and people were clad in red apparel and regalia with matching beads on their necks, wrists and ankles to mark the occasion.

Along the streets, hundreds of people lined up to witness and follow events, which essentially celebrated their gratitude to the ancestors for their blessings in providing the people with food after a long famine.

The festival was also characterised by a cultural display of drumming and the singing of traditional songs, with the women, especially, providing the complementary dance.

The warriors of the various clans, known as the Asafos, also fired several rounds of muskets as a show of force and warning to all enemies of the land.

The symbolic exercise also paved the way for the Ga Mantse, Nii Teiko Tsuru II, and his subjects to also sprinkle kpokpoi on the streets of Ga Mashie.

Background

An agriculture-related festival, Homowo means “hooting at hunger”, and it has a historic antecedent grounded in the migration and settlement of the people of Ga in their present location.

Legend has it that the Gas experienced famine earlier on arrival but were blessed with a bountiful harvest the following year that saved them from hunger, hence the marking of the festival with merrymaking and feasting, as well as sprinkling of the traditional food, as a way of sharing it with those who lost their lives during the famine.

COVID-19 protocols

In a short message after retiring to his palace, Nii Ayi-Bonte said the festival was marked taking into consideration that the world was not in normal times due to COVID-19.

He explained that it was for the same reason that many, especially chiefs from the surrounding communities, were excluded from the main event at Ga Mashie.

He said it was his hope that come next year, when the festival would be marked, the pandemic would be a thing of the past.

He, therefore, entreated everybody to adhere strictly to personal hygiene and social distancing protocols to curb the spread of the virus while waiting to get a cure for the disease.

Development

He also noted that it had got to the point where the community needed to embrace development.

Already, he said, some developmental projects had commenced, including the renovation of the Gbese Palace and the redevelopment of the Salaga Market.

He gave an assurance that very soon they would be completed to also make way for other projects to begin in the community.

Nii Ayi-Bonte wished all Gas a “Happy Homowo” on the joyous occasion and appealed that it should form the basis of reconciliation and unity as the ancestors preached before departing to the other world. The chiefs and people of Ga Mashie of Accra last Saturday celebrated the annual Homowo festival with the sprinkling of kpokpoi, the festival’s traditional food, at heritage sites and family houses.

The Gbese Mantse, Nii Ayi-Bonte II, accompanied by the Adontenhene of the Ga State, ushered in the sprinkling processes in accordance with custom in a fashion guided by the limitations imposed by COVID-19.

At the Ussher Fort, the traditional starting point of the sprinkling process, Nii Ayi-Bonte led a solemn prayer session for the people in the morning, asking for peace to reign among the people and for God’s blessings to enrich the Ga community.

He then proceeded to each of the seven quarters of Ga Mashie to perform the traditional rite, with women, clad in the traditional attire, in tow.

The Gbese Mantse also shared the traditional meal, prepared from corn dough, with the people as he embarked on his procession through the various family homes.

The occasion

The entire Ga Mashie was literally lit in red as the chiefs and people were clad in red apparel and regalia with matching beads on their necks, wrists and ankles to mark the occasion.

Along the streets, hundreds of people lined up to witness and follow events, which essentially celebrated their gratitude to the ancestors for their blessings in providing the people with food after a long famine.

The festival was also characterised by a cultural display of drumming and the singing of traditional songs, with the women, especially, providing the complementary dance.

The warriors of the various clans, known as the Asafos, also fired several rounds of muskets as a show of force and warning to all enemies of the land.

The symbolic exercise also paved the way for the Ga Mantse, Nii Teiko Tsuru II, and his subjects to also sprinkle kpokpoi on the streets of Ga Mashie.

Background

An agriculture-related festival, Homowo means “hooting at hunger”, and it has a historic antecedent grounded in the migration and settlement of the people of Ga in their present location.

Legend has it that the Gas experienced famine earlier on arrival but were blessed with a bountiful harvest the following year that saved them from hunger, hence the marking of the festival with merrymaking and feasting, as well as sprinkling of the traditional food, as a way of sharing it with those who lost their lives during the famine.

COVID-19 protocols

In a short message after retiring to his palace, Nii Ayi-Bonte said the festival was marked taking into consideration that the world was not in normal times due to COVID-19.

He explained that it was for the same reason that many, especially chiefs from the surrounding communities, were excluded from the main event at Ga Mashie.

He said it was his hope that come next year, when the festival would be marked, the pandemic would be a thing of the past.

He, therefore, entreated everybody to adhere strictly to personal hygiene and social distancing protocols to curb the spread of the virus while waiting to get a cure for the disease.

Development

He also noted that it had got to the point where the community needed to embrace development.

Already, he said, some developmental projects had commenced, including the renovation of the Gbese Palace and the redevelopment of the Salaga Market.

He gave an assurance that very soon they would be completed to also make way for other projects to begin in the community.

Nii Ayi-Bonte wished all Gas a “Happy Homowo” on the joyous occasion and appealed that it should form the basis of reconciliation and unity as the ancestors preached before departing to the other world.