5 times: Festivals in Ghana

When in Ghana you can attend a lot of traditional festivals. Celebrating ancestors, chiefs and kings is a really important part of Ghanaian culture. And we are lucky enough to be welcome at those festivals. We share five big festivals today.

Fancy Dress Festival – Winneba

The Fancy Dress Festival is held on Christmas until the first day of January every year in Winneba. On the first day of January there are speeches and perfomances, and around Christmas you will see people going around town in their customes.

The tradiotion is started by Dutch and British traders, who were wearing masks, danced and drank in white-owned bars. There was one white man who thought about making the event a local traditional, and asked a Ghanaian man to join him. Other people who knew the men joined too, and so was the tradition born.

In the early days the people wear customes like doctors, nurses, cowboys, pastors, drivers or even white colonionals. The idea was to imitate the many town professions and also parody the white people. Nowadays the people are masquerade, and it is just a peaceful event to attend.

Bakatue Festival – Elmina

Every first Tuesday of the month July the Bakatue Festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Elmina. It is the beginning of the fishing season. Bakatue can be translated from the Fante dialect as “draining as a lagoon”.

The start of this festival is also known as the start of the rainy season. It is held on Tuesday because that is locally known as the day for the sea god. In Elmina, and most other fishersmen villages, fishersmen don’t go on the sea on Tuesday to honour the sea god.

During the festival the chief, his sub-chiefs and the people of Elmina offer the sacred festival food of eggs and mashed yam mixed with palm oil to Nana Brenya, the river god, and pray for peace.

Homowo – Accra

This festival takes places in May, and is celebrated by the Ga people. The festival starts with planting crops before the rain festival starts. The Ga people celebrate Homowo in the remembrance of the famine that once happened in their history in precolonial Ghana.

The word Homowo (Homo – hunger, wo – hoot) can mean “to hoot (or jeer) at hunger” in the Ga language. The tradition started after a period of hunger in the Great Accra Region. This even led to the famine, because the crops failed to grow for a period.

The celebration begins with the planting of maize, and this maize will be used during the festival called Kpokpoi or Kpekple. In this period it is forbidden to make noise, since people believe this can make the maize fail to grow. The celebration also includes marching down roads, drums and other music, dancing, face painting and signing.

It is a festival of the Ga people, but other people are also welcome to join.

Fetu Afahye – Cape Coast

The Fetu Afahye is a festival celebrated by the chiefs and peoples of Cape Coast, Central region. The festival is celebrated on the first Saturday in the month of September every year. The festival is celebrated by the Oguaa people, because in the past there was an outbreak of diseases that killed a lot of people. The people prayed to the gods to help them stop the diseases. Now it is also celebrated to keep the town clean and to prevent another epidemic to appear.

Fetu (originally Efin Tu) means “doing away with dirt”. The Fetu Afahye was once banned by the then colonial administration of the country, and specifically Cape Coast, and was termed “Black Christmas” to portray it as a bad traditional phenomenon. Between 1948 and 1996, the festival finally came back again.

Akwasidae – Kumasi

This festival is held every 6 weeks on Sunday at Manhyia Palace in Kumasi. It is celebrated by Ashanti people and diasphora, but open for the public. On this day chiefs from all over the region come to greet the Ashanti King.

You will experience a lot of beautiful traditional clothes, drumming, dancing and signing.

During a customised tour we can bring you to those festivals (of course if you are there are there at the right time). Check out our ebook for hotel recommendations. See you in Ghana!