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“Odwiratuo” Festival-Heralding A New United And Progressive Okyeman

Sun, 30 Oct 2011 Source: Yeboah, Kwaku

I was filled with much elation when I learnt about the launching of the Odwiratuo festival of Akyem Abuakwa slated to take place from the 10th-18th of December,2011.On one part I was very happy because in May this year, I wrote an article dubbed “Open letter on festivals to the Okyeman Traditional Council”, where I urged the council to revive the traditional festivals of Okyeman and more so involve the ordinary citizens of Akyem Abuakwa and beyond to be part of such festivals with the avowed aim of fostering development in Okyeman through culture and tourism. Though I cannot claim responsibility for this positive development, I feel proud to be associated with it all the same because I wrote an article on this early on and what is more, this would be the first time I would be attending a traditional festival.

For the second part, am very happy because this would be the first time under the reign of Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin that this festival is being marked. In fact the last time this festival took place was around 1992 during Okyenhene Osagyefuo Kuntunkunuku’s reign on the most revered Ofori Panin stool, interestingly, that particular one had the then president Jerry John Rawlings and his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe attending, indeed, such was the pomp and pageantry associated with it.

From the little research i did on this “Odwiratuo” festival over the internet, “Odwira” as we may already know in Okyeman, is a weeklong celebration of the Ofori-Panin stool and a religious purification of gods, stools and stool occupants all over Okyeman. “Dwira” means to cleanse or purify,”tuo” means firing of guns, so the addition of “tuo” to “Odwira” makes Odwiratuo. Unlike Odwira which is held annually with less emphasis on pomp and pageantry, Odwiratuo is held around either December or January between every three to five years ( as decided by the Okyeman council) and every Chief, sub-chief and able bodied citizen of Akyem Abuakwa whether in the kingdom, outside the kingdom in Ghana or even in the Diaspora is expected to take part in the festival. Again, traditional heads of all settlers on Akyem Abuakwa originally owned lands are all expected to be part. In other words, it is a call of duty to every “Okyeni” as it were to serve the kingdom by partaking in this very rich and colourful celebration which the progress of Okyeman for the benefit of her citizens as well as the country at large assumes centre stage. Apparently, the theme for this year’s celebration connotes unity and development as it is boldly written in a typical Akyem twi; “SUSUBIRIBI, OKYEMAN NKABOM NE NKOSUO”. Let us all make it a point to be in Kyebi to be part of the weeklong spectacle at least one of the days from the 10th to 18th where this is expected to take place. Though I do not have the details of this year’s activities, here is a brief general description of what is expected to take place during the weeklong celebration. The Saturday before the Odwira Sunday is the “Dapada”, where the Okyenhene expected to sit on the small dais in the public square and receive Chiefs from Okyeman’s far flung provinces. The next day sunday is the “Akwasidae” and “Odwira” day.A little description of this day’s activities are as follows; Drumming begins at dawn. The Okyenhemma is expected to organize Adowa performers to display their talents in the public square. The Amantuommiensa (Traditional royal guards of the occupant of the Ofori Panin Stool) would play their drums and the Okyenhene and a small retinue will join them on foot to sing and walk the streets of Kyebi, Okyeman’s traditional capital. During the walk, the Okyenhene plays one of the 3 Asafo pranpran drums. Next, he entertains the Amantuommiensa in the Ofori Panin Fie. Then the Okyenhene sits in state with a display of gold, gold cloths and with umbrellas and state regalia cast in gold. The King wears full state dress including the” Meya Kye” and the “Sika Mpaboakesie”. He appears in the public square in a gorgeous palanquin decorated in silk and velvet cloth. On his left shoulder he carries the Ohum gun and in his right hand, he holds the Bosomtwe Sceptre. The Okyenhene sits in state and the drums, horns, singers and dancers welcome his chiefs, people and guests. The chiefs swear their allegiance to the King. Other activities for the weeklong programme include the ceremonies at the stool house where the Okyenhene together with the Okuapehene (occupant of the Ofori kuma stool, subordinate stool to the Ofori Panin stool) or his representatives as well as the ammantuomiensa, the abontendomhene, the divisional chiefs among others are expected to do some traditional sacrifices and rituals, there would also be the firing of the ohum gun by the Okyenhene among a host of others. Indeed what an exciting time to be an “Okyeni”, an Akan and a Ghanaian for that matter during the weeklong celebration of this special festival. I would like to urge all Akyems, lovers of Ghanaian cultures and traditions to be part of this historic festival as this is not just about the Okyenhene or Kyebi alone, it is about all of us, so let’s all do our bit to make it a successful event, we should not wait for an Okyenhene’s death before we turn up in our thousands to display our rich culture and traditions to mourn him, the time is now. Let us come together to deliberate on how to develop our ancient but revered kingdom. Let us help create public awareness on this historic event in our own small way, on a lighter note am doing this myself by making the logo of this festival my laptop wall background so that every user of my laptop would see it. Let us all embrace Odwiratuo!

By Kwaku Yeboah

Kwakuyeboah09@gmail.com

Columnist: Yeboah, Kwaku