Authentic Ga traditional songs echoed from the sacred ‘Kplejootsoshishi’ which vibrated through the serene atmosphere of Tema Newtown to signal the beginning of customs and norms to kick-start the 2021 Homowo Festival.
It was also a call for elders, chiefs, clan heads, and the entire community to congregate at ‘Kplejootsoshishi’ near the Tema Newtown lorry station in Manhean, the consecrated grounds for traditional activities in Tema.
‘Kplejootsoshishi,’ a Ga word literally means the tree under which ‘we perform the Kple Dance’ is a well-paved sacred park with large trees which branches meet at the top to form a canopy of leaves, annually hosts the Kple and Homowo Festivals.
The sounds of the traditional songs resonated which mother nature could not resist as the leaves responded with rhythmic movement and sounds to compliment what man was chunking out while the trees acrobatically move to it.
Tuesday classified in fishing communities along the Ga Traditional jurisdiction as “Day for the gods” which no fishing activity is undertaken is normally used for other traditional activities on which a durbar of chiefs and people of Tema assembled at the ‘Kplejootsoshishi’ to herald this year’s annual Homowo festival, a traditional priest explained to the Ghana News Agency in Tema.
The colour red and black is associated mostly in many Ghanaian traditional system for funerals, but the Ga Traditional system has other symbolic usage as it dominated traditional cloak adorned for the durbar.
A tourist observing the durbar for the first time would erroneously conclude that it was a grand funeral for a traditional ruler as in addition to the red and black clothing, the marquee canopies mounted at the sacred grounds was also decorated with red and black to match.
Nii Armah Somponu, Tema Shipi and Stool Secretary throwing light on the Homowo activities told the Ghana News Agency that red is the colour for the festival as it signifies the determination the Ga people to conquer hunger and all obstacles no matter what.
Nii Somponu explained that apart from the traditional priest and priestesses who wear white to signify their purity all other persons wear red stressing, however, that during the sprinkling of Kpokpoi which is the traditional food prepared from unfermented corn and eaten with palm nut soup, the priest and priestesses also join the red wearing group.
The Ghana News Agency observed a spectacular sight as members of the Tema Traditional Council trooped majestically with mystic steps led by Otsaame (the Linguist) with the Tema State Linguist staff which is a badge of office carried in public processions ahead of the chief or king signifying authority.
Traditionally the procession moves according to rankings which is revealed through the traditional emblem – the Ga umbrella under which the dignity moves to the durbar grounds.
Nii Adjetey Agbo, Acting President of the Tema Traditional Council, as well as Nii Armah Sompuno II, Secretary to the Stool and other members all followed adorned in red cloths.
Present at the durbar were also the Ashaman and Awudum Osheborloi (traditional cheer groups) who are made up of women dressed in red shorts or trousers with tops.
These groups sing and waved red handkerchiefs to entertain the guests who came from far and near including a number of district chief executives in the Greater Accra Region.
Nii Armah Sompuno II told the GNA that, activities leading to the climax of the Homowo festival, start with the sowing of maize (nmaa dumo) which is marked with the Kplejoo festival.
It is then, followed with a ban on noise making which was mainly aimed at creating some serenity in the traditional area for the gods to commune with the people and ensure the growth of the planted maize.
He added that after that some traditional rituals were performed but that was not for public consumption noting that the Homowo celebration marks the harvesting of the maize planted during the Kplejoo and signified the overcoming of famine on the land.
He said after the durbar which was held on Tuesday, the following Thursday which is known traditionally as “Soobii” was the day all natives of Tema both far and near return to their family houses to celebrate together.
Nii Somponu observed that the Kpokpoi sprinkling would first be done by the Sakumo deity and the final one which marks the climax of the festival would be done by the Tsaade deity.
He said due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s sprinkling would not be done across the town but rather a brief ceremony would be observed at the Palace to mark the event.
He encouraged natives and non-natives to eat the Kpokpoi as it was not a fetish food but rather signifies the joy of the people for having plenty harvest after planting.
The Tema Stool Secretary also pleaded with residents to strictly adhere to the COVID protocols to help government in curtailing the spread of the disease especially the new Delta variants.