General News of Sunday, 6 August 2017
What usually is a very jubilant event patronized by several Ghanaians annually, turned violent as two factions fought over who to swear the oath of allegiance to the Paramount Chief at the 80th anniversary of the Asafotufiam festival.
Tradition has it that the Senior war captain of a particular clan swears allegiance to the paramount chief at the durbar. The Dangmebiawe clan which reportedly was the chosen clan to designate a senior war captain to take the renewal of oath of allegiance to the paramount chief; Djetse Abram Kabu Akuaku III.
Tempers however flared when another faction, the Kabiawe Yumu was called on to take the oath before the Dangmebiawe clan. For more than an hour, security persons at the event tried to calm tempers as both clans heckled each other with weapons, injuring others in the process.
Speaking to Ghanaweb, Secretary of the Festival Planning Committee, Jonathan Dokutso explained that the situation erupted because the designated faction to swear the oath, Dangmebiawe clan, did not have an appointed senior war captain to perform the role.
“When we come to a durbar of this nature, it is the senior war captains who swear oath of allegiance to the paramount chiefs who have a role to play in the durbar, but at a time when a particular clan has not got such a senior war captain who will have to swear, then among themselves, they started hawking themselves”.
Mr. Dokutso described the situation as unfortunate, indicating that it ought not to have occurred as it is completely against tradition. He explained that the clans involved would be called on a later date and spoken to and the appropriate actions be taken thereafter.
“There is more improvement in the durbar, but unfortunately, a situation happened…..it is against tradition and what we are saying is that, that is not the practice of Ada and we will call the families at the appropriate time and whatever sanctions there are, we will met it out”, he said.
Asafotu Festival is celebrated by the Ga-Adangbe people of Ghana and Togo. The Ada/Dangbe East people celebrate Asafotu which is also called ‘Asafotufiam’, an annual warrior’s festival celebrated by Ga-Dangbe people from the last Thursday of July to the first weekend of August. It commemorates the victories of the warriors in battle, fought by their ancestor which were all won, those who fell on the battlefield.
To re-enact these historic events, the warrior dresses in traditional battle dress and stage a mock battle. This is also a time when the young men are introduced to warfare to become worriors.
The festival also ushers in the harvest cycle for this special customs and ceremonies are performed. These include purification ceremonies. The celebration reaches its climax in a durbar of chiefs, a colourful procession of the Chiefs in palanquins with their retinue.
They are accompanied by traditional military groups called ‘Asafo Companies’ amidst drumming, singing and dancing through the streets and on the durbar grounds. At the durbar, greetings are exchanged between the chiefs, libations are poured and declarations of allegiance made.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings was present to grace the event together with several chiefs, queen mothers and dignitaries.