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Ga Warrior


The process of speaking with a Ga warrior (asafoatse) is not done spontaneously or randomly. You are required to make an appointment and bring a bottle of gin (to pour libation to the gods and ancestors) and some money. Libation must be poured every time a warrior puts on their regalia and performs a ritual. In our meeting with Asafoatse Kofi Otuo (I) and Asafoatse Kwashie Odartey (I) they both put on batakari (on top of their casual outfits/soccer shirts) to look decent. And before the interview could start, they said a prayer and pour libation (Absolut Vodka). It is made clear that we cannot ask questions directly but must direct them to a mediator. The roles are defined; warriors are of great cultural and social significance in Ga culture. In becoming a warrior, there is an initiation process consistent of several stages. Firstly, it is important to know that one doesn’t choose to become a warrior rather one is made into one (not all Gas can become a warrior). The first stage of the rites of passage is separation. All soon- to- be warriors are secluded from the community to be educated about their new roles by the fetish priests and the elders; they acquire both practical and esoteric knowledge. On day three, they are given a bath at the beach at midnight by a fetish priest/ess. This bath is both a process of purification but also rebirth (materials used to clean the dead is used on the initiates). The last stage is reintroduction to the community; the warriors (now provided with different names by the fetish priest) visit all the 7 ruling Ga houses (the Ga clans) to pour libation which is necessary to gain access to the houses. The duties of a warrior have changed with time. In the precolonial era warriors used to fight in time of war. All Ga warriors wore red cloth around their neck, to display unity and the readiness to kill the enemy. On their regalia there are many charms attached for protection (from both seen and unseen threats). The charms are made out of different animal skins (eg. a tiger’s skin to give the warrior strength, or an antelope, to make the warrior run fast) and have spiritual powers attached to them. Every warrior has different charms to give different powers. Though many warriors are male, there are female warriors. The female warriors (asafoanye) come into play when the male warriors are short in food. The community’s brave women will go to the warfront to bring the men food. Now there is no difference between male and female warriors anymore, they perform rituals like libation just like male warriors. The current role of warriors is reflective of the Ga ritual calendar, where the period of Homowo is dominant. Besides this main social event each warrior does their own daily rituals but can also perform (for example at funerals) upon requests, as long as they get Schnapps and money in return. The warrior doesn't just put on his regalia, it’s a spiritual affair. Warriors are really appreciated in the community. They are understood to have a third and even a fourth eye that allows them to predict events. Though their primary roles in warfare is no longer relevant, Asafoatse Kofi Otuo (I) explains that their most important role today is to bring love.