Sunday, August 21, 2011

homowo festival

Let me tell you what- rainy season is over.  The sun finally came out for the first time and the haze went away.  That African sun is a doozy.  It was hot and sweaty so naturally we headed to a festival.  We have been spoiled in our first week here with the temperature being comfortable and the sun not being out (the climate is changing so rainy season lasted longer than normal.)  Now we are getting into the dry season with the heat.  They did not exaggerate when they told us we need to get used to being sweaty. 

The festival was insane but worth being in the heat for the experience.  We arrived in the Ga area for the Homowo festival.  This festival celebrates ancestors and the end of hunger.  At least that’s what I got out of it.  Here in Ghana, funerals are a really big deal and last many days.  They are a party to celebrate the dead person’s life and everyone wears red and black.  The red represents danger and the black represents loss and mourning (I think I got that right, don’t quote me for anything on that.)  So we arrive there and the streets are jam packed with the entire town and nearly everyone wearing red and black.  A processional begins with what I can only think to describe as the elders of the town, I don’t know their official title.  They shoot off guns and yell and make their way to the chief’s palace.  Here we were told to join in the processional.  In Ghana, having an obruni (white person) at the funeral is a pretty big deal.  We were then shuffled through to shake the hand of every important person in the chief’s staff and made our way into the chief’s palace to greet the chief himself.  It seemed like a pretty big deal although no one really knew what was going on.  After we met the chief we were told to sit in his living room area so he could come out and greet us.  While we were waiting for the chief, it was explained to us that during the festival there is a certain corn meal made (only once a year for this festival) and that all the women in the town were busy preparing it.  At this point I was terrified that we would have to try it but thank goodness we did not – we were told it would upset our stomachs.  Then we made our way down from the chiefs palace and back into the streets.  The chief led the processional this time and began to make his way to the homes of all his family members.  At the first one he would bless the home by sprinkling the corn mix in front of it.  That part seems calm….and then everyone behind him would turn around and sprint to the next house to get out of the chiefs way.  This was pure chaos.  There were so many people running all over and it was just madness.  One of our guides there just took a few of us girls out of the way and said instead of running with them we could stand by and wait for them at the next house.  Thank goodness for that guy because it was terrifying.  There were also guns being blown off at each house and it was loud.  They ran to quite a few homes, and half our group managed to make it with them.  We were then led back to the main street by our guides in front of the processional by our guides to be seated.  Once we were seated everyone else quickly came back to get a seat and the chief, one other guy, and a women were carried in on chairs.  Then a ceremony began with a priest dancing a story and it was explained that the corn made each year was to symbolize the end of hunger because they make enough of it to feed the entire town.  Ghanaians are quite symbolic and it is very interesting.  We did not stay for the rest of the ceremony because it was hot and we were all quite hungry and we were told it was just talking. 

Before heading back, we were invited to the mayor’s office and he welcomed us with drinks and we met many other important people with big fancy titles.  It was pretty neat and the mayor said that he would like to come back and visit us sometime in our class which is just pretty cool.  I mean, has the mayor ever visited your classroom? Didn’t think so.

We finished off the night with a nice dinner out for Steph’s 21st birthday! It was a great dinner out with everyone and I love this group.  It’s still not home but it is a pretty decent alternative to be surrounded by these great people.  Happy Birthday Steph!

Love to you all!

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