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Hundreds of Anlo citizens, home and abroad have begun to arrive at Anloga and its environs for the celebrations of 2018 Hogbetsotso Za, as various Cultural Groups on Anloland converge to display.

The highly patronage annual festival which started on Saturday, 27th October, with Mini Durbar at Klikor in the Ketu South Municipality is expected to be climaxed with Grand Durbar on Saturday, 3rd November at Hogbe Park, Anloga in the Keta Municipality all in the Volta Region.

Activities lined-up for the celebrations include: Nogbui dodo (general reconciliation), Mama Hogbe (Beauty pageant), convocation of Anlo, State dinner among others.

This year’s Hogbetsotsoza is under the theme: “Shoring Up Our Cultural Capital: Using In Commonwealth And Resolve”.

In an interview with gbcghanaonline.com, the Chief Executive Officer of Hogbe Institute, D. Sylvanous K. Kuwor, said the Hogbe Institute believes that festivals are embodiments of African aesthetic values, principles and mechanisms of social life as well as indigenous knowledge required in developing the various societies and Hogbeza of the Anlo-Ewe is no exception

“In view of the fact that a festival could be the very basis for socio-economic development, we seek to plan and celebrate 2018 Hogbeza in a new style that will bring socio-economic development to Anlo in multiple forms.”

“Although there are complex versions of the Anlo migratory narrative, the commonality stands as a complex experience located within dualistic phenomena such as freedom and exhaustion, joy and sorrow, humour and grief.”

According to him, it is their conviction that this complex experience constitutes an accumulated experience of the Anlo people through time and causation knowledge and in this year’s celebration.

“We seek to explore Anlo knowledge bodies, values and virtues embedded in the festival and to ascertain how these knowledge bodies could be harnessed and used holistically tool for economic empowerment in order to eradicate poverty in Anloland.”

Background:

The Hogbetsotso festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Anloga in the Volta Region of Ghana. The festival is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in the month of November. The name of the festival is derived from the Ewe Language and translates as, the festival of exodus or “coming from Hogbe (Notsie)”. The celebration of the festival was instituted about four decades ago.

The Anlo are a group of people from a tribe in the Eastern Coast of Ghana. Prior to their settling in their present location, they lived in Notsie, a town in present-day Togo.

It is believed that they had migrated from southern Sudan to settle in Notsie. Oral Tradition has it that they lived under a wicked king, Togbui Agorkoli,  and in order to escape his tyrannical rule they had to create a hole in the mud wall that surrounded their town. They achieved this by instructing the women to pour all their waste water on one particular place in the wall.

Over time the spot became soft, thereby allowing the townspeople to break through the wall and escape. Tradition also holds that, to avoid pursuit and make good their escape, they walked backwards with their faces towards the town so that their footprints appeared to be going into the town.

Various ceremonies are held during the festival. They include a peace-making period in which all disputes are ended with the finding of amicable solution. It is believed that the reason for this traditional period of peace making is that the people believe their ancestors lived in harmony with themselves all through their escape from Notsie and that it was this character that made their sojourn a success.

There is also a purification ceremony of the ceremonial stools (where the Ewe believes the ancestral spirits reside) through the pouring of libations. This is followed by general cleaning where all the villages are swept and rubbish burnt. This cleaning ceremony starts at the Volta Estuary and ends after several days at the Mono River in the Republic of Benin. The climax of the festival involves a durbar of the chiefs and peoples of Anlo. The chiefs dress in colourful regalia and receive homage from their subjects at the durbar grounds. Various forms of dancing, singing and merry-making characterize the entire festival

 Story by Edzorna Francis Mensah.

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