October 18 - 24, 2007
KROBOLAND SET FOR NGMAYEM
A GRAND durbar of chiefs and people of Manya Krobo will take place next week Friday, October 26, at the Oklemekuku Memorial Park, Odumase Krobo, to climax the 63rd anniversary of the Ngmayem Festival.
It will be attended by government functionaries, ministers of state, parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic corps and a large number of citizens and tourists.
History has it that when the Krobos sojourned on the Krobo mountain, millet (Ngma) was the staple food they ate with okro and leaves. Over the year however, that menu has changed so much that very little significance is attached to the cultivation of millet.
Notwithstanding, the spiritual head of the Krobos, Nene Kloweki, cultivated millet farms for ritual purposes and today, Ngma has come to apply generally to food.
During each year there is the lean or hungry season and the season of abundance, that is, harvest time. So it is essentially a festival marking the harvest of grains planted earlier in the year.
Ngmayem as an annual communal festival was instituted in 1944 to replace the ancient Nadu fetish dance cult, which was abolished due to the impact of education and Christianity, so that all could join in without compunction for the common purpose of showing gratitude to God for protection from all odds during the year.
Hitherto, the festival was celebrated by priests only. However it was reconstituted by the late Konor (paramount chief) Oklemekuku Azu Mate Kole II to promote solidarity among the people and to mobilize the people for development.
It coincides with the period of the year when the months of toil are over and the whole community makes merry and takes a brief rest from the toil of the growing season and other hectic economic activities.
The appropriate time therefore is the month of October which happens to be the end of the passing year and also the beginning of the coming year for the Krobos.
The Krobos hold the ancestors in high veneration and remember them on the occasion of the festival with socio-economic activities including performances of marriage rites, resolution of family conflicts, funerals to remember the dead, prior to the festival. The festival period also marks the renewal of clan and ethnic allegiance to the sub chiefs and the paramount chief.
The festival begins with the ritual of hooting (Kodakpami), which is a ceremony in which the priests lead the Krobos to confess their personal and social sins like adultery, murder, casting of evil spell on others, sorcery and other evils.
During that period, the deities are expected to bless the growing of the new seed and also announce the times of sowing to the people.
The moral essences of the ceremony is that the priests profess the integrity and innocence, which confers on them the moral authority to lead the people spiritually.
The sowing of the millet follows later. Ten weeks after the Kodakpami celebration, the millet is harvested. This is used in a series of rites after which the people are free to eat the new millet.
The offering of the first yam is another ceremony at which blessing is sought for the people seven weeks after the Kodokpami. In this ceremony the new yam is offered to the deity before the priest can eat it.
The purpose of the rite is the cleansing and blessing of the throat so that people can enjoy the new yam. The libation prayer pleads for blessing, strength, children, riches, food, and rain for good harvest.
It is followed by the visit to the royal mausoleum, Akleme, which emphasizes the African traditional religious belief that although the ancestral spirits may no longer be present in physical form, they continue to exert influence on the lives of the living. They are consulted in libation in several ceremonies like naming rites and marriage among other events.
The same veneration is extended to public-spirited Krobos who have been buried in the royal mausoleum, which is visited on Wednesday during the weeklong celebration. There is general mourning in the families with libation in memory of the dead as expression of continuous union with the departed.
The Krobos also visit the Krobo Mountain, Klowem, during the festival week in Thursday. This signifies their emotional and spiritual attachment to their ancestral home. One attraction is the viewing of the various artifacts left behind by the ancestors who were forced to desert the mountain in 1892. In recent times a mini-durbar is held and other recreational activities are organized at the foot of the mountain, to entertain the numerous visitors to the festival.
Graphic Showbiz October 18 - 24, 2007 Page: 3