One of the most colourful festivals in Ghana, Homowo (which means ‘’hooting at hunger’’) is celebrated by the Ga tribe in the Greater Accra Region. It is notable for the sprinkling of the festival dish called "Kpokpoi" to the gods and ancestors for spiritual protection.
A procession of twins through the principal streets, traditional drumming and dancing and general merry-making usually epitomizes the enthusiasm and great entertainment that comes with this historic festival. About a month to it’s celebration, there is a ban on noise making in the whole region. Strict measures are usually put in place to enforce this ban and strenuous punishments are implemented to offenders. However, the festival is noted also for very mind-blowing elements and practices. Let’s see a few that you may not have known about.
1. Celebrated to hoot at hunger - By now, as the translation from the native Ga language to English will showcase, Homowo means ‘’Hooting at hunger’’ but translated sometimes as ‘’Shame to hunger’’. It is believed that, when the Ga’s migrated to their current place of settlement, they were greeted by grave famine for a period until eventually there was a bumper harvest of corn. The festival therefore makes a mockery of the hunger which their ancestors suffered by sprinkling food on the ground for the gods and ancestors of the land.
2. Thirty-day ban on drumming is imposed on the land by the priests - The festival is also preceded by a one month ban on noise making. No form of noise whether by drums, singing, PA systems or any form of sound output is allowed. The punishments to offenders often include a variety of well-structured disciplinary tools such as fines, confiscation of items etc. The ban is believed to give the gods and ancestors the peace of mind to prepare for the festival ahead and offer protection to the indigens.
3. The festival is highlighted at varying times by different quarters of the Ga tribe - Just like many other festivals in Ghana, the festival is celebrated by different facets of the tribe. In the case of the Ga Tribe, a systematic time table has been drawn where the various suburbs take time to celebrate one after the other before the final grand celebration by the entire tribe. The beauty here is how every tribe joins in the celebration of another and each tribe has a its own way of celebrating.
4. Fourth Day Mystery - No farming activity takes place on this day, and in some parts of the country no farmer is allowed by Native Law and Custom even to scratch the surface of the land. The preparation for the general Harvest Festival Custom and Harvest for the whole tribe. The mystery here has been discussed far and wide throughout the years with the question, why? Generally locals believe it is the day when the gods and ancestors go out to harvest their own produce and prepare their meals and hence it will be disrespectful for locals to also do same or ‘’dine with the gods’’.
5. No one is allowed to demand a debt till after the Homowo or Harvest Festival - Sometimes, many people disagree with this and most end up unhappy about this. However, it is Ga custom for citizens not t demand a debt till after the festival. Legend has no reason for this but it is believed to allow debtors ample time to recover from expenses from the festival to be able to pay