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What Homowo can do

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 Source: Mensah, Solomon

By Solomon Mensah

It is a sun drenched Tuesday morning. Few days ago, when alighting from a trotro, I nearly got my neck trapped in the robe that holds these buses’ doors to position. So today I am more than cautious alighting.

I have jumped down from the rickety bus at the stop point just close to the Independence Square bus stop- coming from Labadi. I am walking down to curve my way to join the Lokko road, Osu.

Here on the road, huge loudspeakers sit in the middle of the roads, like a bull frog in a swamp, vomiting melodious tunes of Ga music. On one shoulder of the road, a cameraman squints on his left eye to look into his device taking coverage of the Homowo festive days. The roads here are choked with human traffic. The elated celebrants either sing or dance to the music I do not understand a word. Minutes of walking, I have taken a sharp curve to my left to face the ‘Chrisaach Carpets’ house which stands few meters away from the Lokko street. My loaded bag that drapes at my back coupled with jama songs emanating from a drinking spot on my right make me dance my steps like a drunkard. A compound house inscribed in front of it "Adokwei We" stands to my left. The house is as busy as the anthill as people troop in and out with a sort of excitement. A passage of road lies in-between the drinking spot and the Adokwei We. Here, the road is as well blocked first by a standing tent and a meter away by a pan (containing fish) in the middle of the road. Expressions on the faces of the hundreds of people here tell one that the Gas still uphold their rich culture and I feel like joining them to dine, wine and dance.

This festive mood that has caused the young and old to wake up from their beds before the cock could crow is that of Homowo. Permit me to quote extensively; according to Quartey-Papafio, A.B. " The Ga Homowo Festival", Journal of the African Society, Vol. 19, 1919, “This harvest festival is celebrated by the Ga people from the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. It begins with the sowing of millet by the traditional priests in May. After this, thirty-day ban on drumming is imposed on the land by the priests.

The festival is highlighted at varying times by different quarters of the Ga tribe. The Ga-mashie group of the tribe will celebrate theirs' a little earlier than the La group. Homowo recounts the migration of the Gas and reveals their agricultural success in their new settlement. According to Ga oral tradition, a severe famine broke out among the people during their migration to present day Accra. They were inspired by the famine to embark on massive food production exercises which eventually yielded them bumper harvest.

Their hunger ended and with great joy they "hooted at hunger" this is the meaning of the word HOMOWO.”

Indeed, Homowo hoots. But it does not only hoot at hunger but rather it tells the outside world of the rich culture of Ghana. I have personally observed with keen interest the devotion of the Gas especially their youth in wholeheartedly celebrating this festival.

In our society where the domination of western culture is overshadowing ours, one is filled and thrilled with joy seeing a section of Ghanaians holding on to their own culture tightly like a relay button. This is what Homowo can do! The man who came from beyond the horizon has corrupted our minds such that for most Ghanaians, whatever has a cultural twist is taunted fetish. Some years past when lizards were few and a lighted piece of wood served as a torch in girls hunt at night, ‘bragoro’- puberty rite was of paramount importance. In the era of fried rice, the name bragoro is abhorred by the so called educated (some). Today’s woman as they preferred to be called would not outdoor her promising breasts at the glare of the public in the name of culture. Ironically, with the hundreds of beauty pageants that has taken captive of our television screens, the same ‘today’s woman’ under the owl like eyes of some hungry men and the public hang the same breast in thin brassieres and twist their waists in skeletal pants. Interesting!

Perhaps we have not realized that in blindly following the sense-eluded western culture we are in a way rubbing bottoms with a porcupine. My Late Father whom I bear the same name with would advise the stubborn child; “If while climbing a tree you insist on going beyond the top, the earth will be waiting for you.” A word to the white Ghanaian.

Once again, I say ‘ayekoo’ to Homowo for reminding us that we have a culture. But, if my words would not be taken as that spoken in honour of palm wine, I would like to draw the attention of the Ga leaders to a throbbing issue. The filth filled gutters. I am not prescribing an item on the programme line up of the annual Homowo celebration but I think if we could spend a day or two in thoroughly cleaning the gutters the stench that greets us will be a thing of the past. In this Homowo will well be celebrated.

A Malawian proverb says that do not be in a hurry to swallow when chewing is pleasant. But as I walk through the Homowo celebrants I am pressed by time that I have to rush to work. How I wish today was a holiday. Long live Homowo, long live the Gas.

The writer is a freelance journalist who describes himself as a dual citizen of Accra and Sunyani. Email: nehusthan4@yahoo.com

Columnist: Mensah, Solomon