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Regional News of Monday, 10 November 2014

Source: Daily Guide

Fire Festival victim's family want justice

Family of the young man who was killed during last Monday’s fire festival in Tamale suspects foul play and is demanding justice over his death from the Northern Regional Command of the Ghana Police Service.

Abdul Karim Bayor, alias Wonder, was among five persons who sustained severe wounds after the celebration which went late into the night in the Tamale Metropolis.

Karim Bayor was said to have been shot at close range by an unknown gunman in the heat of the celebration and was rushed to the Tamale Teaching Hospital where he died days later.

Family members believe the unknown assailant intended settling personal scores with the deceased and have, therefore, appealed to the police to thoroughly investigate the matter and bring the perpetrator of the heinous crime to book.

The Tamale Metropolitan Security Committee has expressed concern over the needless deaths associated with the annual fire festival celebration.

Meanwhile, the four other victims who suffered various degrees of injury following the incident, are still on admission at the hospital.

DAILY GUIDE gathered that some other people who reportedly suffered injuries during the festivities were treated and discharged Monday night at various health facilities in the city.

The festival, which is carried out by many ethnic groups in northern Ghana in commemoration of the landing of Noah’s Ark after the flood, is celebrated in the night with bundles of grass used as torch lights in a procession.

It is also believed that the fire festival is the first Dagomba fiesta in the year celebrated in the first month of the Dagomba lunar year.

Traditionalists are, however, posit that one great king lost his son and when night fell a search party had to light torches (flashlights) to search for the missing prince.

As the festival begins in the night, the bundles of grass used as torch lights are prepared in the afternoon. Lots of food is prepared for supper.

Traditionally, family heads perform rituals by offering some of the prepared food to their departed ancestors.

They then pray for good health and prosperity in the succeeding year. After supper, inhabitants assemble at the chief’s palace. The chief lights his torch first, moves it round his head seven times while calling on his ancestors to grant him and his subjects good health and prosperity.

He then throws away the torch as everybody lights theirs and a procession begins amidst drumming and dancing to the outskirts of the town or village.

The torches are thrown at a tree. The celebrants then begin to dance back to the chief’s palace.