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The Dumba Festival, the issues and the act of  “Jumping over a Cow”

The Dumba Festival, the issues and the act of  "Jumping over a Cow"


Dumba Festival is celebrated annually by the Chiefs and People of the Waala Traditional Area in the Upper West Region of Ghana. It is usually celebrated between the months of September and October, depending on the Islamic calendar.

 It is also celebrated by the Chiefs and People of North East, Savannah and Northern regions, by Gonjas, Dagomba’s and Mamprusi’s, all regions  of  the North, in different months as Damba. 

Damba is celebrated to mark the birth and naming of The Holy Prophet, Muhammad. However, the actual purpose of the celebration is to glorify chieftaincy , foster peace and unity, and above all, the privilege to address issues of concern and importance to the people in the traditional areas and the country as a whole. 

It is usually celebrated within a week, amidst ritual performances by the Chiefs,Tendaamba, Imams, Forokos and Yari Namine, all coming together in Wa. 

During the festival, visitors are invited and welcomed to share in food and drinks and relish the pomp and pageanteries of the celebrations. Traditional dancers and few modern local artistes and singers are invited from within and across the country, to perform during the festival. 

During the traditional celebrations, royals, sub and divisional Chiefs put on expensive, yet beautiful heavy traditional clothes and there is a durbar of Chiefs and many others, who come from far and near, to catch glimpses of Miss Dumba and the traditional and spiritual activities. 

Drumming and dancing by the various ethnic groups are usually the order of the day. It is important to Note, that the four traditional royal gates, that are the successors to the waala chieftaincy , in sequence include the Yijiila, Naa Kpaha, Jonyuola and Naa Jerra, who are represented by the Busa Naa Ali Seidu Pelpuo, also known as the Yelmaana, the Guli Naa Seidu Braimah, thus the Nubalanaang, Sing Naa Issahaku Mahama and Kperisi Naa Abudulai Abubakari, the Kunjokuu, as Paramount Chiefs.

At the climax, the Overlord of the Wala Traditional Area is expected to perform spiritual activities off camera and  public view,  before coming out publicly in traditional clothing to “jump over a cow”, to signify his healthiness and preparedness to remain a strong Paramount for the next year over his people. 

During the “jumping over a cow”, strong men hold firmly, a healthy strong cow that is lowered to the ground and the Chief, led by some spiritual men, go round the cow as Imams are vigorously reciting some verses of the Holy Quran simultaneously, until the Overlord unexpectedly jump over the cow barefooted and receives applause from the crowd. He is then taken inside his Palace to prepare to meet strangers.

It is equally important to note, that the spiritual aspect of the climax of jumping over the cow, excites family members, closed relatives and friends to shed tears, because the inability of the chief to jump over the cow signifies, that he is not mentally, spiritually or physically fit or strong enough to take care of his people in the subsequent years, as tradition stipulates. 

This year’s Dumba,  is under the theme: “Combating illegal mining in Ghana, The Role of Traditional Authorities,” and  is significant, since illegal mining activities could lead to environmental degradation, including deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution. 

The negative impact of  environmental degradation can deter tourists, domestic and foreign investors, who seek pristine and sustainable destinations. Above all, it hinders agricultural output, affecting much of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and generally alterin livelihoods as a nation. 

So, the fight against illegal mining in Ghana should neither be seen as an afterthought nor politicized.

Everyone ought to get involved in finding solutions to this seemingly unsolvable havoc to almost every sphere of our existence. 

Also, the theme of the festival  will ignite the need to revisit  issues concerning and relating to galamsey and the need to find lasting remedies.

As, the People of the Waala Traditional Area celebrate  the Dumba Fesival this year, all citizens are invited, to help brainstorm on urgent issues and problems affecting the people of Wa.



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