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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

Random Homowo events: Afi ooo Afi

Last weekend Ga Mashie celebrated the Homowo (H?m?w?) – the festival for hooting at hunger.

On Saturday, Nuumo Blafo, the priest of the Blafo deity of Asere (As?r?) in Ga Mashie invited his friends to celebrate with him at the Asere ancestral home in Ga Mashie close to Usher Fort, Accra.

The home has been in existence for over 300 years.

Blafo is a deity the Asere took from the Akwamu in a compromise deal. The Ga gave it to Nii Oto, Otublohum Mantse to assist him during a war.

The Otublohum people are the Akwamu who were given a place in Accra by the Asere to settle.

Later the Brazilian returnees were added to them under one division.

So the Otublohum division has Akwamu and Tabon (Brazil) peoples conjoined as one Ga Mashie clan.

Nuumo Blafo explained that the Akwamu wanted “direct access to European traders within Ga territory but could not overpower the Ga”.

In a “compromise deal” the Ga (Asere) demanded Blafo, the Akwamu war deity “as a surety” that the Akwamu will no longer engage in war (with them).

Since Asere was the main Ga Mashie division then, the Blafo came to be in the possession of Asere.

As?r? is the only Ga Mashie division with the eagle totem.

A family elder of the Asere proudly explained to us Saturday evening that within Ga Mashie, they – the Asere – are the only division without their name inscribed on their homestead because they have no need to. Their eagle is also a male eagle with the wings outstretched as a sign of “protecting everybody”.

“Asere ji Ga ni Ga ji Asere,” to wit “Asere is Ga Mashie and Ga Mashie is Asere”, the family elder repeated the age old saying, and charged the family members to return to the Asere home Sunday morning first before proceeding to their family homes to offer and receive ??? wala the traditional greeting offering good wishes.

After these greetings are offered, all protagonists in every dispute must bury the hatchet.

On Saturday, the celebrations were occurring everywhere and tourists followed various groups with their cameras, as Ga Mashie divisional leaders copiously sprinkled kpokpoi to all parts of their territory.

“There is no formal durbar at a central location. This is different from the traditional festivals I have seen,” a member of our delegation remarked.

How do adherents of monotheistic faiths justify their participation in food offered to deities, – sprinkled on tombstones and road intersections; how do they participate meaningfully when invited?

Rev. Prof. Philip Laryea, a theologian at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute in Akropong-Akuapem, gave an intellectual exposition on such matters at the 29th Homowo lecture organised by Osu Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in Accra on Wednesday 14 August.

According to Rev. Philip Laryea, St. Paul will first tell the people, ‘Ayekoo’, to wit, ‘Well done’, but it is the only living God who made the plants grow.”

Referencing his main text from Acts 10 (when the people of Lystra, an ancient Greek city, gave divine status to Paul and Barnabas because they healed a leper), Rev. Laryea theorised that Paul observed the indigenous culture and found “Sparks of divine revelation in it and based his evangelization mission on that. Paul did not quote Moses; the people would not have understood it then because they were not familiar with Moses.”

He concluded that it was due to Paul’s approach to teaching in Lystra that led to the spread of Christianity.

He urged the audience to use the “proverbs, folklore, songs and other rituals of indigenous peoples to minister to them.”
From generation to generation “God has not left himself without a witness…. in our culture God has left divine sparks that witness to Himself and to us that He is present in our midst.”

Rev. Prof Laryea informed the audience that Johannes Zimmerman and Johannes G. Christaller compiled a large number of Ga and Twi proverbs respectively for our edification.

Christaller charged Africans to keep these proverbs as treasure troves.

The life lessons from the 29th Homowo lecture and the Homowo festival are manifold and clear.

Osu Eben-Ezer; has offered this insightful annual lecture series for 29 years already and we are all grateful.

The main Homowo celebrations continue into September across Ga Mashie, Osu, La, Teshie, Nungua and Tema.

We wish the people of Accra “Afi oo afi…….W?s?? agb? be n? w?trashi” – “Happy New Year….. May another New Year meet us alive and well.”

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