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The Hogbetsotso festival of the people of Anlo.

The Hogbetsotso festival of the people of Anlo.
The Hogbetsotso festival of the people of Anlo.

The Hogbetsotso festival is a significant celebration observed by the chiefs and people of Anlo in the Volta Region of Ghana. There are several prominent Anlo towns, such as Anloga (the capital), Keta, Kedzi, Vodza, Whuti, Srogboe, Tegbi, Dzita, Abor, Anlo Afiadenyigba, Anyako, Konu, Alakple, Atsito, Atiavi, Deʋegodo, Atorkor, Tsiame, and numerous other villages. 

The festival is held every year on the first Saturday in November in Anloga, the traditional capital of the Anlo state. The festival's name originates from the Ewe language and signifies the celebration of migration, specifically "coming from Hogbe (Notsie)". The festival has been celebrated for approximately forty years.

History

The Anlo tribe is a community of individuals residing along the eastern coast of Ghana. Before establishing their current residence, they resided in Notsie, a town located in present-day Togo. 

There is a prevailing belief that they migrated from southern Sudan, passing through Oyo in Nigeria, Ketou in Benin, and Adja Tado in Togo, before finally settling in Notsie. According to oral tradition, they resided under the rule of a tyrannical king named Togbe Agorkoli (Agor Akorli). To successfully evade his oppressive regime, they devised a plan to create an opening in the sturdy earthen barrier encircling their community. 

They accomplished this by directing the women to dispose of all their wastewater at a designated location on the wall. Over time, the area weakened, enabling the townspeople to break through the wall and make their escape through the resulting mud.  According to tradition, in order to outsmart their pursuers and gain more time to escape, they cleverly walked backwards with their faces towards the town. This created the illusion that their footprints were leading into the town.

The festival

The Hogbetsotso festival is traditionally observed on the first Saturday in November, showcasing a range of ceremonies. These ceremonies involve a period of peace-making where all conflicts are resolved through friendly solutions. There is a prevailing belief that the reason behind this customary period of peacemaking stems from the people's belief in their ancestors' ability to live in harmony with themselves during their escape from Notsie. 

It is believed that this characteristic played a crucial role in the success of their journey. Additionally, a purification ceremony is performed on the ceremonial stools, which the Ewe believe to be the dwelling place of ancestral spirits. 

This is done by pouring libations. This is followed by a thorough cleaning process where all the villages are meticulously swept and any rubbish is safely disposed of through controlled burning. This cleansing ritual commences at the Volta River and concludes after several days at the Mono River in the Republic of Togo. 

The highlight of the Hogbetsotso festival is a gathering of the chiefs and people of Anlo. The chiefs wear vibrant traditional attire and are respected by their subjects during ceremonies held at the durbar grounds. The Hogbetsotso festival is known for its vibrant celebration of dancing, singing, and merry-making.

The Agbadza dance

The Agbadza, a dance that originated as a war dance imitating the graceful flight of birds, was once called atrikpui. It is the traditional dance of the Anlo people and is performed with great energy during the grand durbar of the Hogbetsotso festival. It is a way of showing reverence to their ancestors and deities. 

Agbadza is a versatile form of performance that can be enjoyed in a variety of settings, including parties, funerals, and naming ceremonies. In this modern era, individuals from all backgrounds can partake in the Agbadza dance without any limitations. Another dance that showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Ewe people is the borborbor dance.

Related link: Festivals in Ghana.

Also Read: Seven of the best restaurants in Labone, Ghana.

Source: HR Forum News

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