Papa Festival

Papa Festival

January
According to tradition, Okomfo Anokye, the founder of the Ashanti nation in Ghana used the following method for choosing a location for the capital city: he planted two trees and decided to establish the seat of government at whichever site's tree grew. The tree planted at Kumasi flourished, thus Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti Region. The other tree, planted at Kumawu, died. Still, each year in January the people of Kumawu remember their past.
The festival is named for the local god and begins with a procession of ancestral stools, or thrones, to a nearby river, where they are cleansed. Then a bonfire is lit and burns all night. The next morning, the chief makes an offering to all the chiefs who have passed on. Finally, a procession takes the chief, carried in a palanquin, to the site where the legendary tree was planted for the ritual slaughtering of a cow or bull. Later, there is a scramble of young men to cut a piece of the meat. Those who attempt to do so are often beaten back with whips and branches, but those who succeed in escaping with their portion are regarded with admiration, especially by the young women in the crowd of spectators.
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. 48
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