Traditional celebrations form the basis of important and popular festivals that offer both good times and insights into the many and varied cultures of Ghana. You start to realize just how important festivals are to the people of Ghana when you realize that the country annually holds as many as 70, for reasons rooted in Ghana’s history, culture and religions. They bring families and communities together, celebrate the nation’s rich and diverse culture, give people a chance to honor and celebrate their ancestors. And visitors to Gha2010-08-01-Front 1 Emancipation Village4na should never have a problem finding an important festival to witness and join in. This West Africa nation of 25 million people has one major festival season. It starts in January and ends in December.

One such event is coming up in early August on Ghana’s eastern Atlantic coast, home of the country’s Ada people — the festival known as the Asafotufiami. It celebrates victories of the Ada warriors over rival tribes. Expect it to be colorful. Expect it to be festive. And since gunfire is a major part of the celebration, expect it to be loud. It lasts a week. On the opening day of the festival, the Ada people return to their homes to perform a spiritual cleansing of the house and hold vigils at family shrines. At the heart of the festival are two companies of warriors, or asafos, representing the Ada warriors who won those long-ago battles. Membership is through maternal lineage. On the second day of the festival, talking drums call the asafo companies to assemble. They set up camps in Luhuese, outside the town of Big Ada. There, young men who have reached puberty are initiated into one of the two asafos in ceremonies that actually reflect the combat training given young warriors in those early days. Then come war games representing the battles themselves. That afternoon, the two companies march in triumph into Big Ada, shouting war cries and firing muskets into the air. Singing, dancing and more processions follow, along with lots more volleys of musketry. I was told about the Asafotufiami There is a symbolic washing of hands and feet to banish evil spirits and usher in good luck for the coming year.

The new initiates, accompanied by their friends, then head to the home of their in-laws, whom they will honor with — three volleys of musket fire. The night ends with gift-giving and a feast. The following day is the durbar, a ceremonial gathering of chiefs, who are carried in sedan chairs or palanquins through the streets of Big Ada in a colorful procession that includes the asafo companies. The paramount chief exchanges greetings with his subordinates, and the people. The leaders of the asafo companies swear their loyalty in a ceremony of allegiance marked by more rounds of musket blasts. A large open-air Sunday church service is part of the festival. After that, it’s strictly for fun — boat races, soccer games, river excursions.

For more information about the Asafotufiami, and how you can attend, you can contact: Ruddy Nartey Linked Hearts Culture Promoters P.O. Box SA 290 Somanya, Krobo Eastern Region Ghana 00233244817772 cell You also can find Ruddy on Facebook.