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Odwira festival of the people of Fanteakwa District.

Odwira festival of the people of Fanteakwa District.
Odwira festival of the people of Fanteakwa District.

The leaders and people of Ghana's Eastern Region, namely the people of Fanteakwa District and Akuapem, celebrate the Odwira festival. The residents of Akropong-Akuapim, Aburi, Larteh, and Mamfe celebrate the Odwira Festival. Every year, in the months of September and October, this is observed. The Odwira festival commemorates a significant victory over the Ashantis in 1826. And at Dodowa, this was the Katamansu conflict. The year 1826, in October witnessed the first celebration of it.

This occurred between 1811 and 1835, during the rule of Nana Addo Dankwa (I), the 19th Okuapimhene of Akropong. People are regenerated and given protection during this period of spiritual cleansing. Additionally, the residents of Jamestown, Accra, commemorate it. This is because of the relationships that were created when the Ga and Akuapem people intermarried.

Traditionally, the Odwira festival is timed to coincide with the harvest season, when food is abundant and people express their appreciation to their ancestors. Thanksgiving for the bumper crop is mostly expressed via "giving food to the ancestors" since it is a yam feast.

History of the Odwira festival

The Odwira festival has been observed yearly by the Akropong, Amanokrom, and Aburi communities for about 200 years. It was first celebrated by Nana Addo Dankwa 1 (1811–1835), the 19th Okuapehene of Akuapem. The Odwira festival is also observed in other places within the 17 states of Akuapem. The occasion commemorates the Okuapeman people's triumph against the formidable Asante army in the historic battle of Katamansu, which took place in the vicinity of Dodowa in 1826.

The Odwira festival follows a long-standing routine of a tradition carefully planned from generation of old and occurs as follows:


This is a time for introspection and silence. All burials and loud noises are prohibited in Akuapem for forty days before to the Odwira festival. Breaking the sequence results in penalties for offenders.

Odwira da Monday

The Akan people have the notion that a chief never passes away. A chief instead visits the community. The road leading to this settlement is made visible on Odwira Monday. The ceremonial route from the royal mausoleum, also known as Amanprobi, to the middle of Akropong, the capital of Okuapeman, is cleared during this holy private occasion. The Adumhene, the leader of the Abrafo (State Executors), is in charge of carrying out the age-old tradition. The route clearing represents the arrival of our ancestors, the Nananom, to the Okuapehene's Palace to participate in the Odwira festival.

Odwira da Tuesday

Odwira is said to be a supernatural gift from the royal ruling clan's ancestors. The Banmuhene, who is the Chief of the Royal Mausoleum and the Keeper of the Ancestors, is called upon on this day by the Gyaasehene, one of the five Divisional Chiefs of the Akuapem Traditional Area and Administrator of all royal courtiers.

When the Okuapehene, or Omanhene, is prepared to celebrate Odwira, the Gyaasehene formally notifies the Banmuhene. The Gyaasehene have given the Banmuhene the mission to go back to the Royal Mausoleum's location in the holy forest, meet with Nananom's ancestors, and transport Nananom's Odwira to the Okuapehene.

Additionally, on Odwira da Tuesday, members of the Akropong 7 Stool households were outside harvesting the fresh yam crop. This is carried out inside Kubri's home. It is illegal in all the states of Akuapem to consume the fresh yam before this day and hour. Additionally, it is prohibited throughout the town. Waiting for the Baamuhene and his people to offer the blessings of Odwira, the Okuapehene sits in state. Odwira can only be honoured when the Baamuhene and his people return with the ancestors' blessings.

It is said that only the Baamuhene and the Okuapehene see what the ancestors have delivered when the Baamuhene returns and approaches the Okuapehene. A ceremonial garment is then draped over their heads. After this, the ban on noise making is lifted.

Odwira da Wednesday

Everybody in Akropong is in a state of collective grief on this day. Families come to grieve the passing of loved ones, therefore the dress code is symbolic and includes crimson and black. In order to express sympathy, the Okuapehene pays visits to each of the seven stool houses in Akropong: Aboasa, Asona, Twafo, Benkum, Kyeame, and Akrahene.

All of the Ancestors (Nananom) and all of the residents of every Akropong home who have passed away throughout the previous year are remembered starting at daybreak. It is believed that the ancestors (Nananom), for whom the route has been ceremoniously cleared, have joined the Odwira spiritually.

Odwira da Thursday

Okuapeman essentially acknowledge the existence of a supreme God and express their gratitude to him, but they also declare their allegiance to the Omanhene, who sits on the Ofori Kuma seat. On this day, Okuapehene dresses in vibrant, exquisite robes, sits in state, and greets everyone who comes to pay their respects.

During this time, a young woman who is one of the omanhene's customary wives parades in public along the town's main thoroughfares on her way to give her husband a special meal of "Eto." Later on in the day, "Eto" is taken by a group of his people, led by the caretaker of the royal mausoleum, Banmuhene, to Nsurem, the first hallowed resting site of Okuapeman's first omanhene, in order to feed the ancestors. Chiefs from the other stool houses do the same.

Starting around 7 p.m., the Okuapehene and his five divisional chiefs, Gyaasehene, Benkumhene, Nifahene, Adontenhene, and Kurontihene, personally reaffirm and vow their devotion to the Ofori Kuma Stool at the residence of holy stools. This crucial event demonstrates the Akuapem Kingdom's unity.

A curfew is implemented at 10 p.m., concealed by symbolic darkness. Akropong quiets down as state executioners, known as Abrafo, carry Okuapeman's stool and regalia through the abandoned streets of Akropong to Ademi mu, a historic river, for the ceremonies of holy cleaning. When they return, they give the Okuapehene their regalia, the cleaned Stools, and themselves. It's thought that seeing them at this ceremony is prohibited for any citizen who isn't in the entourage. In this private ritual, the Okuapehene shoots three musket bullets to mark the end of the day and ceremonial. He also symbolically strips nude and is wrapped in a holy piece of cloth. It also means that Omanhene has been given the task of organising the great durbar that will take place the following day.

Odwira da Friday

The celebration's customs and rituals basically come to a head on this day. At Mpeniase, the first tree planted on the day Akropong became the capital of Okuapeman, the chiefs, elders, and people of Okuapeman gather. In order to publicly honour the Mpeniase, they continue to serve as a living emblem of the spirit of the Akuapem Traditional Area. The Okuapehene gives a review of the year and discusses initiatives and development efforts for the next year, to the attendance of the clergy, government officials, and others. The government and his people send greetings of goodwill to the Okuapehene from both abroad and at home.

To Okuapeman, the Omanhene delivers a speech that effectively serves as the kingdom's condition of affairs. It has been observed from past festivities that this is the day with the highest number of guests. The evening is jam-packed with events, including pageantry and performances. Businesses take use of this chance to promote their goods by supporting and organising certain side events.

Rich traditions, art, fashion, music, design, and cuisine all come together in Odwira. The cultural journey creates new opportunities and moulds expressions. We cherish our customs, guard them fiercely, and give them meaning that we understand on many levels. This is your opportunity to come see us if you have always been in awe of the Akuapem people and our distinctive language. We are delighted to greet you and share our customs with you and the rest of the globe.

Thanks for reading this article about the Odwira festival. I believe it has been educative. You can leave your comments, in the comment section below. XOXO.

Related link: Festivals in Ghana.

Related link: The Hogbetsotso festival of the people of Anlo.

Also Read: Profile of Saint Louis Senior High School.

Source: HR Forum News

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