Damba

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Damba

August
Observed in August by many people in the Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana, Damba may have been originally an Islamic festival, though its real origins are uncertain. There are two parts to the Damba festival: the Somba Damba, which marks Mawlid al-Nabi, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, and the Naa Damba, which celebrates the naming of Muhammad. The celebration continues for 10 days, with drumming and crowds of dancers in front of the chief's house every night.
The Damba festival includes everyone in the community. Muslims hold evening prayers every night leading up to the Somba Damba, while others join in singing and dancing. But it is the Naa Damba, or chief's celebration, that is the main event. People recite from the Qur'an as they dance near a cow or bull that will be slaughtered for the following feast.
Afterward everyone congregates in front of the chief's house, dressed up in his or her finest garb. As drummers play, the chief and his entourage emerge from the house. Everyone gathers into two semicircles, leaving a large space in the middle for the dancers, the last of whom will be the chief himself.
A highlight of the festival occurs the next day, when horseowners decorate their animals and parade them around town, stopping at the homes of friends. Later in the day a final grand procession marks the official end of the Damba 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. 57