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Homowo

The Homowo Festival.

History.

This harvest festival is celebrated by the Ga people from the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. Homowo festival is celebrated the people of the Ga traditional area. The people of the Ga traditional area have a history of frequent migration around the continent of Africa. The Ga people are a part of the Ga-Dagbe group of Kwa people who inhabit the Greater Accra region of present day Ghana. The Kwa people of Africa comprise in the Ga-Dagbe, Fanti, Ewe, Kwahu, Akwapim, Ashanti and Akim. According to some myth, the Ga people moved from Nigeria.

Homowo begins with the sowing of millet by the traditional priests in May before the rainy season. After this, thirty-day ban on drumming is imposed on the land by the priests.

Homowo recounts the migration of the Gas and reveals their agricultural success in their new settlement. According to Ga oral tradition, a severe famine broke out among the people during their migration to present day Accra. During this difficult time they gathered up courage to farm the land, cultivated corn and called upon their through libation to bless the farms to yield in abundance. The rainfall that followed is believed to be an answer to their prayers. The production exercises eventually yielded them bumper harvest. Their hunger ended and with great joy they “hooted at hunger” this is the meaning of the word HOMOWO.

The word Homowo (Homo – hunger, wo – hoot) means to hoot or jeer at hunger.

How Homowo is celebrated.

There appears to be a double celebration of the homowo festival in a year but the first celebration  known as the Damte Dsanwe Homowo is the real one because that is the one celebrated at the end of the native year and properly according to native law and custom. Nungua  is normally the first community to commence the celebration of Homowo because the Nungua people are supposed to be the first of the Ga people to land in Ghana followed by the people of Gamashi. Of all the communities, Teshi is the very last to celebrate being the youngest of the Ga towns which broke away from La and was established in 1710.

The Native Year starts from Sunday, the day following the feast, which must be on a Saturday. The reckoning of the year is made either by days or weeks from the first day set down by the Dantu Priest as the first day of the Native Year.

Sometimes, either in the middle of the year or towards the end, the Dantu Priest will put the Calendar either forward or backward for a week or two. This will be done by order of the Ga Mantse or by the Dantu Priest himself for no assigned reason. Hence the Calendar is not stationary, and the times of the Homowo Festival vary.

The celebration usually takes place in August, rarely in July or September.

On the Thursday before the main celebration thousands of people arrive from the outlying villages with their harvested crops of all kind. They are referred to as “Thursday People” or (Soobii). The Soobii, the local townspeople, and parades of musicians meander through the streets all day and into the night. It is a time for romance. Young people meet each other, get acquainted, and start new relationships.

At dawn on Friday a Memorial Service is held to honor all those who died during the previous year. Crying is heard from homes and streets all over the Ga State. Later on in the morning there is a Birthday Celebration for all the Twins. Twins and all multiple births are revered by the Ga people and are regarded as special blessings.

Saturday is the day on which all the Accra people celebrate the Homowo or Harvest Festival.

This is now the great day for Akras; on this day, the great feast takes place for which they prepare palm soup and kpokpoi which is made with the maize planted before the festival.

The Sunday after the Harvest Festival day the people used to get up early in the morning and start crying for those who have died and gone, some of whom they do not know, even by name. This is the day for Ngowura, when people go from ‘house to house to their friends and relatives wishing them good luck, prosperity and long life in the New Year. This is the day when all long-standing disputes are settled and put aside and the parties have a good drink over it all.

People from other traditional areas of the Ga State, foreigners, and other Ghanaians domiciled in the Ga State come to Teshi to watch the last celebration of the Homowo season, Sesebumo.  A climax of the festival is that from 12 noon to 6:00pm any woman, no matter the status, should accept a hug from a man on the festival street.