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Homowo

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YELLOW food everywhere (kpokpoi/ kpepele) Red palm oil soup RED textile everywhere WHITE clothes of fetish priests Gun shots Chiefs and warriors visiting all family houses carrying a bowl of yellow kpokpoi Leaving some of the food at the family members house and taking some of the families food with them Throwing the food on the floor for the ancestors of the house (+food on top of the white shrines) SHARING The preparing of kpepele and palm nut soup in almost every home Also alcohol was very present Poured as libation (spirits) And as drink during the celebration: STAR BEER. commercial interest here! How did Star beer enter Jamestown?? Drinking of alcohol has no gender or age element (in terms of elderly people)- grandmas drunk the beer as much as the youth Tents with small group of people under it everywhere on the streets A lot of huge SPEAKERS all over town with loud noise from one set of speakers blending into an equally noise sound from the next. The atmosphere of play and joy with dancing (an old lady pulling Evi aside to dance with her), outpour of people in the streets, music and consumption of alcohol (predominantly STAR) A bit on the history of Homowo as told by Genius Nii Kwartelai Ga Homowo = the getting together to criticize/praise leaders with songs Famine when the Ga arrived in Ghana (they came from Sudan/Nigeria/Israel) At the time a priest was ruling the Ga’s During the famine the priest asked for rule of silence → time for reflection. Ga need to think about how they will feed themselves They started fishing and growing food Homowo is the celebration to drive hunger away. Shame/hoot to hunger. The throwing of food for people who died during the famine (ancestors) The throwing of alcohol, libation, used to be water (since water is the connection between earth and sky - living and spiritual). Why is water replaced by alcohol?

You are looking at a booklet about festivals with a selection of pictures and notes from a field research done during the Homowɔ celebrations in Ga Mashie Accra (2016). These festivals are not static traditions, but are celebrations that reflect the ethos of the people which includes cultural, historical, spiritual, emotional and performative elements. As an alternative to ordinary encyclopedia entries about festivals this booklet tries to give you a subjective and contemporary view on some traditional Ga festival celebrations.

by Jonelle Twum and Evi Olde Rikkert as part of/suggestion for ANO s Cultural Encyclopedia project

The twin festival comprises everything from ideas of tradition/the past, Ga migration oral histories, Ga spirituality, (ritual and secular) performances such as possessions and various contemporary reenactments and elements.

There is a popular belief that every Ga family has at least one or more twin, thus almost every household in the Ga Mashie participate in the festival which takes form (at least the most visual and public elements) in a possession performance. Each entourage consists of family members, one or more set of twins (predominantly younger twins) and one or more possessed family member.

Dancing and flying chief during the Odwira. Odwira is also celebrated by the people of Jamestown as a result of the long influence of the Akans in the region. Odwira takes place on the Monday after the Homowo festival. It’s a chiefly procession that takes place in Ga Mashie. Chiefs walk or are carried in floats around the entire Ga Mashie. The chiefs are surrounded by warriors and people belonging to the same house/clan.

Around the chief and his family, a protective circle is formed of people holding hands

During the period of festival social statuses and structures are in abeyance. Similar to the reenactment of the ritual processes with rubbish objects, some groups of young guys dress up in female clothing and dance femininely and some elderly people dress in school uniforms.

Warriors

A fetish priest carrying the chief of Jamestown’s stool during the Odwira.

The picture portrays a woman carrying a bottle of the chief of Jamestown’s perfume. During the Odwira, three other women carry the chief’s essentials which include another bottle of perfume, a tsese and a trunk with his clothes.

The pictures depict two women carrying a bowl (tsese) guided by one or two family members. The carrying of the tsese is understood to induce a state of possession. Most of the possessed are women, barefooted and experience the possession in various ways. Some of them walk slowly and calmly and others move in a more frenzied manner charging towards another carrier or the crowd forcing it back, screaming in excitement only to move forward again in order to both see the next group of family.

The twins’ festival and its soccer jerseys.

Throwing and sharing of Kpokpoi grinded corn mixed with palm nut oil, to get the bright yellow colour, and eaten with palm nut soup and big fish (such as tuna). Homowɔ is the hooting of hunger; it celebrates the abundance of food after a long period of famine that followed after the Ga migration to Accra. During the Homowɔ festival chiefs and warriors visit their family houses carrying a bowl of yellow kpokpoi, throwing the food on the floor for the ancestors of the house and taking some of the families’ kpokpoi with them.

The twins are very visible not only in terms of their facial similarity but also in terms of their bright clothing (they are all in their best outfits) and their ‘polished’ hairstyles.

Dancing and flying chief during the Odwira.

Odwira is also celebrated by the people of Jamestown as a result of the long influence of the Akans in the region. Odwira takes place on the Monday after the Homowo festival. It’s a chiefly procession that takes place in Ga Mashie. Chiefs walk or are carried in floats around the entire Ga Mashie. The chiefs are surrounded by warriors and people belonging to the same house/clan.

A lot of huge speakers all over town with loud noise from one set of speakers blending into an equally noisy sound from the next tower of speakers.

Uncontrolled movements by the possessed carrier of the tsese. Potion flows over the edges and spills on the carrier and audience. Family members hold the possessed carrier.

The colour white as a colour of festivity representing symbols of purity and holiness (and it is the only colour worn by priests). During the twin’s celebration white chalk is used to paint people’s faces.

Kpokpoi for ancestors carefully being placed on top of white shrines.

One oral narrative (as there are several) explaining the origins of the twin festival connects it to the Homowɔ festival. During a period of severe famine there was coincidently a boom of twin deliveries. There were suggestions of an infanticide but the priest (Wulɔmɔ) advised against this and argued that twins are symbol of plenty and the plenty that is to come in the future. Shortly after the Ga experienced a period of abundance from both the sea and the land. Twins are therefore associated with symbols of abundance, good luck and blessings.

Many of the younger twins are placed on the shoulders of adults in their family in order to better display them for the public.

Kpokpoi for ancestors carefully being placed on top of white shrines.

One oral narrative (as there are several) explaining the origins of the twin festival connects it to the Homowɔ festival. During a period of severe famine there was coincidently a boom of twin deliveries. There were suggestions of an infanticide but the priest (Wulɔmɔ) advised against this and argued that twins are symbol of plenty and the plenty that is to come in the future. Shortly after the Ga experienced a period of abundance from both the sea and the land. Twins are therefore associated with symbols of abundance, good luck and blessings.

Kpokpoi for ancestors carefully being placed on top of white shrines. One oral narrative (as there are several) explaining the origins of the twin festival connects it to the Homowɔ festival. During a period of severe famine there was coincidently a boom of twin deliveries. There were suggestions of an infanticide but the priest (Wulɔmɔ) advised against this and argued that twins are symbol of plenty and the plenty that is to come in the future. Shortly after the Ga experienced a period of abundance from both the sea and the land. Twins are therefore associated with symbols of abundance, good luck and blessings.

A group of small boys jogging down the street carrying an object made out of rubbish, and chanting.

A contemporary version of the tsese-carrying tradition is performed by several groups of young guys (often wearing soccer jerseys). Instead of the traditional bowl of herbs a guy carries an object made of rubbish on top of his head. A way of making fun of /or having fun with the act of possession.