Tamale celebrates Damba
The Tamale Metropolis came to a standstill on Thursday evening as the people poured onto the streets in their numbers to celebrate this year’s Damba Festival with pomp.
The Dagbon tradition was also at its best as chiefs rode on horsebacks with their retinue, made up of drummers and traditional warriors, displaying their mastery in musketry.
Men and women, as well as children, dressed in smock and other northern traditional apparel, went on a procession which signified the end of the festival, through some principal streets of the metropolis amid drumming and dancing.
The festival also attracted some of European and American nationals.
Contrary to earlier security concerns as a result of which the celebration did not take place in certain parts of the Northern Region, notably Bimbilla, Kalampor and Kafaba, the Damba Festival was celebrated in Tamale without any incident.
The Northern Regional Security Council (REGSEC) banned the celebration of the festival in Bimbilla and other parts of the region, where there are chieftaincy disputes, for fear that it could ignite violent clashes before and during the festival in those communities.
The Damba Festival is celebrated annually under the lunar calendar by the people of Dagbon, Mamprugu, Gonja, and Nanumba, in the Northern Region.
It is celebrated in the Dagomba lunar month of Damba, corresponding to the third month of the Islamic calendar, Rabia al-Awwal.
Damba is celebrated to mark the birth and naming of Prophet Mohammed, but the actual content of the celebration is a glorification of chieftaincy.
The festival starts on the 10th day of the month of Damba with the “Somo” Damba followed by the ‘ Naa’ Kings Damba on the 17th Day and with the “bielkulsi” which is the climax of the celebration coming on the 18th of the month of Damba.
Activities that mark the festival include prayers and fasting, as well as procession of people on horseback, amid drumming and dancing.
Originally linked with Islam to mark the birth of Mohammed, the festival has gradually taken on a traditional rather than an Islamic tone.
The week-long festival is full of pageantry and showmanship and is celebrated in the Kingdoms of Dagbon, Yagbon, Mamprugu and Nanung.