For many decades, the Odwira Festival has been a staple of Ghana’s colourful, vibrant and diverse cultural expression, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate themes of victory, gratitude and harvest, in unity. However, even before Odwira became a part of Ghana’s cultural landscape it had long been celebrated by the people of Akropong, Amonokrom and Aburi in the Eastern Region.

The Festival was initiated by the 19th Okuapimhene of Akropong, Nana Addo Dankwa 1 who ruled from 1811 to 1835. First celebrated in October 1826, its significance is linked to the victory of thepeople of Okuapemman over the then-powerful Ashanti army during the historic battle of Katamansu near Dodowa in 1826. Odwira is also a time of spiritual cleansing, when the peoples Okuapemman, and all who celebrate, present themselves anew and pray for protection.

Traditionally, the timing of the festival also coincides with the harvest season when there is abundant food; during which time the people give thanks to the Ancestors. Being a Yam Festival, gratitude for the harvest is especially expressed in the “feeding the ancestors”.

During the Festival, bowls of mashed yam (some mixed with palm oil and others left white) which have been specially prepared by the Okuapemhene and other stool occupants are carried in procession from the Ahemfi to feed the ancestors at Nsorem. A little-known fact is, the Odwira Festival is also celebrated by the Ga peoples of Jamestown in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana as a result of their long association with the Akans through intermarriages.

Key Cultural Activities

Monday, 28 September 2020.

The day of purification

Clearing of the path to Amanprobi – the First settlement established in 1730 by the Akyem warriors led by Nana Safori, who went on to become the First Okuapehene in 1733. This private ancient custom is led by the Abrafo (State Executioners) and their Chief, Adumhene. They usher in the Odwira with purification of the Kingdom with herbs.

A Safe, Smart and Green Okuapeman
Sponsored Safe Social Activities:  Virtual Coding lessons initiated with selected schools.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020.

The day of harvest

The parading of the harvest of new yams through the principal streets of Akropong, capital of Okuapeman accompanied by singing, drumming and dancing. The Abrafo stop periodically to break the new yams into pieces and leave on the streets for children and others to collect, cook and eat. In the late afternoon, the Abrafo amidst the firing of musketry return to Amanprobi to perform private rituals and then formally present the Odwira to Okuapehene who will be seated in state at the Palace with his Divisional and other sub-chiefs. On arrival at the Palace, the Abrafo go directly up to the Okuapehene who will be draped in a traditional cloth. Intense firing of musketry, drumming and dancing completes the traditional day of activities.

A Safe, Smart and Green Okuapeman
Sponsored Safe Social Activities:  A donation of internet routers to select schools to support E-learning on the Ridge. This will be accompanied by donations of face masks, hand sanitisers and veronica buckets to schools, communities and individuals.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020.

Opening of the Adae Butuw, Commemoration of the dead and the Cleansing of Stools and regalia in the Ademi River.

Activities for the day are preceded by drumming to signify the traditional lifting of the ban on noisemaking, imposed 40 days earlier in preparation for the Odwira festival. This sacred day is dedicated to the reconnection of the living and the dead. Traditional rulers, individuals, members of families and communities who passed away during the course of the year are honoured and mourned. This day also enables friends and sympathisers who could not attend funerals to symbolically pay their respects.

At 10pm, a curfew is imposed on Akropong. Under the cloak of symbolic darkness, the Abrafo take the Stools and regalia of Okuapeman to Ademi mu (the river) for the sacred cleansing rituals. On their return, they present themselves and the cleansed Stools as well as regalia. In this private ceremony, the Okuapehene symbolically strips naked, is wrapped in a sacred strip of cloth and he fires 3 rounds of a musket, signifying the close of the day.

A Safe, Smart and Green Okuapeman
Sponsored Safe Social Activities: Opening of the virtual and physical Museum at the Akropong Palace – an Exhibition of selected Stool regalia, artifacts and pictures, honouring 290 years of our unique history – Adonten, Benkum, Nifa, Gyaase and Kuronti.

Thursday, October 1 2020.

The day of Feasting

On this day, the pouring of libation in the Stool room and the presentation of a traditional menu – mashed yam, boiled eggs and salt free mutton is made. This solemn process is repeated at both Amanprobi and at Nsoremu (located on the boundary between Akropong and the Abiriw market, this is the site where the elders of the original Guan inhabitants met with the Akyem warriors and granted the latter, the right to both settle and govern as the Paramount Chief. Typically, a colourful procession including the Okuapehene, followed by the Krontihene and other Chiefs in order of seniority. They are led by maidens carrying bowls of food, water and schnapps.

The Okuapehene will usually sit in state in the Palace to receive homage from his Chiefs, Elders, Friends of Okuapeman, the Clergy, Government Officials, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and the public. The guests present traditional gifts of firewood, livestock, foodstuffs, drinks, clothes and money.

A Safe, Smart and Green Okuapeman
Sponsored Safe Social Activities: Relay Health Walk from Ayi Mensah to Akropong with a handover of the ‘baton’ by each Division.

Mobile Breast Screening and Health Clinic for specific communities accompanied by the distribution of face masks, sanitisers and veronica buckets to individuals, schools and communities.

Greening The Ridge – Children and communities safely plant trees to form a ceremonial green and sustainable canopy walk in each of the Divisions.

Friday, 2 October 2020.

The Grand Durbar

The Chiefs, Elders and People of Okuapeman congregate at Mpeniase (the forecourt of the Okuapehene’s Palace) to publicly pay homage. Attended by the Clergy, Government Officials and others, the Okuapehene presents a review of the year and outlines projects and development activities for the hew year. The Okuapehene receives goodwill messages from the Government and his people, both at home and abroad.

A Safe, Smart and Green Okuapeman
Sponsored Safe Social Activities: Mobile Breast Cancer and Health Clinic visit to specific communities accompanied by the distribution of face masks, sanitizers and veronica buckets to individuals, schools and communities.

The Drums of the gods – Fontomfrom Dance Challenge across the 5 Divisions.

Saturday, 3 October 2020.

Amanokrom and Larteh.

This day is reserved for Amanokrom, the Gyaase division and for Larteh, the Benkum division of Okuapeman, who hold concurrent activities between Monday and Thursday with Akropong, to host their respective durbars. Typically this is a day for socialisation across the Akuapem Ridge.

Towards a Safe, Smart and Green Okuapeman
Sponsored Safe Social Activities: Official opening of the Physical and Virtual Exhibition by Oseeadeyo Kwasi Akuffo III, By Invitation.

Okuapehene’s First Virtual TownHall – Oseeadeyo Kwasi Akuffo III speaks to Okuapeman and Ghana.

By Invitation Brunch Hosted by Oseeadeyo Kwasi Akuffo III, Akropong

Sunday, 4 October 2020.

Interdenominational Thanksgiving Service.

In the 1830’s, the Basel Mission Society, now the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, established its first outpost in the Gold Coast on the Akuapem Ridge, they introduced western religion and education to Okuapeman. On what is the last day of Odwira, interdenominational Church services are organised in Akropong, Amanokrom and Larteh to thank God for ushering Okuapeman into what is their traditional New Year and ask for His blessings. Typically, this day provides the opportunities for individuals, companies and others to pledge and raise funds for specific development projects.

A Safe, Smart and Green Okuapeman
Sponsored and Safe Social Activities: By Invitation. Outdoor jazz fundraising lunch Hosted at an Eco Tourist venue in Okuapeman

Here’s what else you can expect from #Odwira2020:

  • The opportunity to visit renowned local attractions like the Aburi Gardens, Boti Falls, Bosomase Falls, Amenepa Falls and the Akrofi Christila Theological Centre
  • Historical sites of significance like the Abontsi slave market, Okomfo Anokye’s home, the Akonedi Shrine, the Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa farm, as well as the Chief’s Palace will be open to visitors
  • Participate in hiking, expeditions, mountain climbing, marathon, outdoor games and workshops
  • Experience local entertainment and modern twists to traditional art through Drumming and Dancing, Cultural Durbars and displays of Traditional Ghanaian Music
  • A delectable variety of local dishes
  • Shopping for local couture like Kente and the traditional smocks as well as sculptures, beads and ornaments
  • A Museum display and exhibitions showcasing the culture, history, fashion, arts and crafts of the Akuapem people, to inspire and enrich your experience

For a change of scenery, introduction to new traditions and a warm welcome to the ancestral home of the Okuapemman, live your roots at #Odwira2020