By Edzorna Francis Mensah
Night at La in Accra is an exciting scene to see following the opening of more temporary drinking spots and pubs ahead of the ground finale of the 2023 Homowo festival slated for Wednesday, August 23, 2023, at New Lapkana.
Many of these entertainment centres have started operations since August 1 to cash in on the celebrants and tourists who are in town to participate in the festival.
Hundreds of La citizens and non-citizens from nearby and surrounding areas have taken over the inner-city roads in and around New Lakpana for the celebration of the Homowo Festival, the annual main festival of the La people.
Homowo is a harvest festival celebrated by the Ga people of Ghana in the Greater Accra Region, which starts at the end of April and continues into May with the planting of crops (mainly millet) before the rainy season starts. The Ga people celebrate Homowo in remembrance of the famine that once happened in their history in precolonial Ghana.
The word Homowo (Homo – hunger, wo – hoot) can mean “to hoot (or jeer) at hunger” in the Ga language. It is said that as the Ga people travelled to Ghana, they faced famine and other misfortunes along the way and upon settlement. The people attributed their mishaps and misfortunes to the displeasure of a god or deity. To restore balance in their society, the Ga people sacrificed livestock, prayed, and poured libations to pacify the gods or deities.
Homowo is celebrated in all the cities in Ga State, with celebrations climaxing in Gamashie. Prior to the actual celebration of the festival, Nmaadumo, a sowing rite of wheat takes place to mark the beginning of the Ga Calendar and the celebrations that occur within it. Nmaa or millet is sown by the seven priests of the Gamashie people who perform Shibaa, the rite of digging.
The priests sow the wheat in a specific order, with Dantu on Monday, Sakumo on Tuesday, Naa Korle and Naa Afieye on Friday, Gua on Saturday, Naa Dede on Sunday, and Nai on the following Tuesday. During wheat-sowing, a strict ban on noise called Koninfemo is set in place. This is to ensure that the crops grow without distractions. This lasts for four weeks and two days, and at the end of this period, specific drum beatings called Odadaa are played to announce the end of the noise-making ban.