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ABOAKYER

HISTORY

The Aboakyer festival is a bushbuck hunting festival celebrated by the people of Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana.[1]

The name ‘’Aboakyer’’ translates as ‘hunting for game or animal’ in Fante dialect as spoken by the people of the Central region. The institution of the festival was to commemorate the migration of Simpafo (tradition name given to the pheople of Winneba). The people migrated from the North-eastern African town of Timbuktu in the ancient Western Sudan Empire to their present land in the central coast of Ghana.[2] The journey from the North-east to the Western part of Africa was led by two brothers.[3] The people believed that a god, who they called Otu, had protected them from all dangers during their migration and to show their appreciation, the people consulted the custodian of the god, a traditional priest who acted as an intermediary between the people and the god, to ask the god for its preferred sacrifice. To their astonishment, the god asked for a human sacrifice, someone from the royal family.[3] This sacrifice went on for some years but was later stopped as the people were no longer interested in human sacrifices.[2] A request was made to the god to change the sacrifice type, as they believed that sacrificing royalty could eventually wipe out the royal family.[2] The god in return asked for type ofwild cat to be caught alive and presented to it at its shrine. After the presentation, it was to be beheaded as a sacrifice. This was to be done annually in a festival.[3] Before the festival began the people settled the god at a town called Penkye. After the resettlement, the god became known as Penkyi Otu, to signify the final home for the god. To mark the festival, the people sought out the wild cat, as had been prescribed. Many lives were lost in the process as the animal was to be captured live and transported to Penkye. The people made a second appeal to Penkyi Otu to provide an alternative to the wild cat. That appeal resulted in the decision to accept a mature bushbuck.[3] This festival is celebrated in may and it’s a major event in Ghana.

HOW IT IS CELEBRATED

The festival begins mostly in the evening around 7pm with a march through the major streets of Winneba accompanied by a brass band. It is followed by an entertainment in the night like singing and dancing On the next day, rituals are performed. Libation is poured, prayers said and guns fired. The officials and men of the two Asafo companies go to the beach to purify themselves by bathing in the sea. Penkye Otu is smeared with special oil and covered with new piece of Calico. The pri During the beginning of the deer hunt, members of each Asafo company offer sacrifices to the ancestral sprits to help them in their deer hunt the next day. In the morning the following day, all the members of the Asafo Companies march to Penkye Otu’s residence for a mixture of roots and herbs to be sprinkled on them. This is to ensure their safe return from the hunt. Members in the group smear themselves with clay, wear charms and amulets. After seeing the Omanhene, they set off to hunt for the deer.ests shave their hair and also smear themselves with some of the oil used in smearing Penkye Otu.. During the beginning of the deer hunt, members of each Asafo company offer sacrifices to the ancestral sprits to help them in their deer hunt the next day. In the morning the following day, all the members of the Asafo Companies march to Penkye Otu’s residence for a mixture of roots and herbs to be sprinkled on them. This is to ensure their safe return from the hunt. Members in the group smear themselves with clay, wear charms and amulets. After seeing the Omanhene, they set off to hunt for the deer. The first group to go is the Tuafo Company since their field of operation is far away than the other group. No weapons are used except clubs. The company that makes the first catch rushes back home with war songs and shout of victory the deer is presented to the Omanhene who places his bare right foot three times on it. He bids the group well done and retires to his seat to await for the others. Distinguished guest sit at Humphery’s Park to witness the return of the companies with their deers . Besides, the deer is lifted up and carried through the principal streets of the town with singing and dancing to the shrine of Penkye Otu. Custom however forces the Omanhene and his elders to remain seated at Humphrey’s Park till the last person has safely returned. The Omanhene joins the procession after all the people involve had return.

The members of the two Asafo Companies dressed up (put on their best cloths) with the winners infront march through the main “streets of the town, singing and dancing, whilst the omanhene site in the Palanquin and follows at the rear. They are usually join by| their women in such a joyous mood.

On the last day, the two Asafo Companies come together before Penkye Otu and the deer is sacrifice to the god. Divination is also performed to know what lies in store for the town in the year ahead. Finally, the people of the Efutu believe that, if Number one (No. 1) Company that is; Tuafo group wins the context, then there will be peace and prosperity in the coming year but if Number two (No. 2) wins, that is Dantsifo then the coming year will be a year of famine| and war. It is of interest to note that, the priest of Penkye Otu stays in the| shrine till it rains. For that ensures the successful end of the festival.