The Bakatue Festival is celebrated by the chiefs and peoples of Elmina in the Central region of Ghana. The festival is purposed at bringing and fostering unity among the people and to reaffirm their relationship with the river gods. ‘Bakatue’ means ‘opening up the Benya Lagoon into the sea. This is done yearly on the first Tuesday of July in the rainy season. Tuesday is seen as the day for the sea. During the celebration when the Omanhene (paramount chief), divisional chiefs and entire state go to the priest to offer a sacred food to the river goddess and pray for peace, protection and prosperity for Elmina and its satellite allegiance communities. Preparation of rituals are performed, Six weeks before this Tuesday.
The preparation begins with the paramount chief, who orders the gong-gong beater to inform the people of the imposition of a ban on net fishing in the Benya lagoon, forbidding the selling of fresh fish in the market place, forbidding newly harvested crops from being eaten or sold in public, causing the dead to be buried without delay, placing a ban on drumming, as well as other noise making activities, to bring quietness in the town.
All necessary customary activities are performed on this day. On Monday, the youth organize at the river embankment a “gyantsiatu” (bonfire), which takes them into the following day (Tuesday). In the morning, the men carry a pieces of wood with fire to chase their female counterpart, singing and casting of insinuations to get rid of all evil of the past year and as atonement to the women for wrongdoings. On Tuesday, the women organize retaliation events and by using “mpapan” (whip), they whip menfolk they meet as they move through the streets of the town. This denotes the condemnation of immorality of on the part of men, which is offence against the state. There is a net casting ceremony done by the people to symbolize the beginning of the new fishing season. Whatever fish is gotten from the net casting ritual is offered to the gods as a symbol to thank them for the harvest. There is lot of merry making after the durbar which is organized by the chiefs. There is boat racing and other interesting activities.