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The Lost traditions of The Gas…as we celebrate Homowo

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It is a tradition in the Ga state that in every year specifically August, there is a celebration of a festival called Homowo (hooting at hunger).

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

The festival is highlighted at varying times by different quarters of the Ga tribe. The Ga-mashie group of the tribe will celebrate theirs' a little earlier than the La group.

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. They were inspired by the famine to embark on massive food production exercises which eventually yielded them bumper harvest.

The classical significances of Homowo among the Gas eroded, Family reunion, the day or two before, the festival is characterized with long time relations who by geographical, security, economic and marriage factors separated from home returns to reunite and abreast themselves with the current happenings in the family. In a typical Ga community, most of the people who return home are referred as “soo bii” meaning Thursday people.

This is the day most “lost” relations returns home. Amidst music and laughter, people share their fond memories with nostalgic. This day also importantly is used to reconcile families.

The hard earned reputation of family reunion has totally defaced. In modern Ga societies, people do not associate themselves with their families anymore. The insurgence of modern religion has totally marred the significance of Homowo as most preacher men crusade against the festival.

I remember, my Aunty who was much rooted in the celebration dissented to be involved in this year’s preparation of the festival under the pretext of going for church programme. Could it be her instinct or the church indoctrination?

I realized that in as much as Christianity condemns aspect of our culture, our tradition and customs reciprocate by upholding certain values of Christianity.

The mere mention of God in libation attests to the fact that our fore fathers have a long serving relationship with God before Christianity.

Recently, men of God opined that the ban on drumming before Homowo is a calculated attempt by the devil to suppress Christianity and therefore urging all Christians to pray against it. Again, are we abandoning our hard earned tradition?

The loss of centralized power in the Ga state has rendered them powerless. Though there may be sub-chiefs but the absence of a King to oversee the whole of Ga State has indeed rendered them powerless.

Long before this day, you dare not hit or clap your hands or scream or shout on top of your voice when there is a ban on drumming.

In those days, it is held in high esteem and sacred. Failure to do that would come with dare consequence on you and your family.

These days the tune has changed, she lamented. Today you will hear or see people making noise and goes scot free because there is no centralised power.

The seemingly unresolved chieftaincy dispute among the Ga has eroded the beauty of Homowo. The climax of the celebration is the sprinkling of Kpokpoi (locally made food for the gods).

This day characterised with fight as to who the right heir to sprinkle. In some cases there is no sprinkling. The current development has aroused fear and panic among the Gas any time the festival approaches.

As indicated earlier, what used to be unification has now created the platform for people to fight and destroy properties?

The festival is no more attractive. The dispute, apathy among some section of the Ga people has devalued the rich heritage. The fear of being killed or injured as a result of the succession dispute has deterred foreigners and even local admirers away.

What used to be the most liked festival for fund raising, youth capacity development, unity, merrymaking has now degenerated to bloodshed and hatred.

As Ghana remains alive so shall our cultural heritage live on but the absence of any conscious attempt to pass on the tradition is likely to erode the beauty of it amidst succession dispute and other traditional and legal battles.

As a Ga, I will like all stakeholders in the Ga traditional council to put a pragmatic step to resolving this menace.


By Joshua Quaye

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