Yam Festival at Aburi

Yam Festival at Aburi

September or October
This is an annual harvest festival celebrating the new yam crop and Ntoa, god of the harvest, observed in the town of Aburi in Ghana's Eastern Region. The festival is preceded by a 40-day period of somberness to encourage farmers to continue overseeing the gathering of the harvest. Even funerals are considered inappropriate, although if someone does die during this time, it is customary to sacrifice a sheep to appease the god and then to hold as brief a funeral as possible. It is also forbidden for any new yam to be brought to town before the festival, since no one should enjoy the new crop until it has been presented and offered to Ntoa.
The festival begins in the morning with a purification procession: one man goes to the spring to fill a pot of water; as he carries it through the streets, another man carries a sapling and periodically dips the sapling into the water and sprinkles water along the path while saying a ritual prayer. Later in the day a priest in a white robe emerges from the fetish house, where he has been confined throughout the 40 days, and leads a procession through the town, stopping at certain points to slice three chips off a new yam tuber he carries. It is believed that if two or more of these peelings fall with the skin side down, the year will be full of good fortune. If, however, the peelings fall with the skin side up, it bodes ill for the coming year. An attendant usually makes sure this doesn't happen, though. Then prayers and an offering of palm wine, drinking water, eggs, new yam, and a sheep are made to Ntoa, and a ceremonial feast follows.
See also New Yam Festival
CONTACTS:
Embassy of Ghana
3512 International Dr. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-686-4520; fax: 202-686-4527
www.ghanaembassy.org
SOURCES:
FestGhana-1970, p. 28