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.

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