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Peki to celebrate Yam Festivalpdf print preview print preview
23/08/2008Page 1 of 1
 

PEKIS TO CELEBRATE YAM FESTIVAL

By Nkunu Akyea

The Avetile-Peki Yam Festival (Teduduza) will come off from September 21 to 28 at Peki in the Volta Region. It will be shortly followed by the Ayim Kpukpo Tedudu (Stool Yam Festival).

Tedudu, generally translates to mean Yam Feasting or Festival and used to be celebrated by most Ewe traditional areas settled in the central part of the Volta Region. Such areas as Ho, Sokode, Anfoe, Awudome, Have, Vakpo, Kpando, Hohoe, Alavanyo and Peki (to name a few) situated in the tropical rain forest zone of the region all celebrated Tedudu or Yam Festival.

As the great farmers that they have always been, the people have in addition cocoa, coffee and cola, cultivated cereals such as millet, maize and rice. They also produced nuts (groundnut) and different varieties of beans. Furthermore, they also cultivated the tropical fruits and vegetables as well as roots and tubers. Plantains and bananas, cocoyam (all varieties), sweet potatoes, cassava and countable varieties of yam were all produced by them.
 
However, the most important of all these crops is the yam. Its planting and harvesting determined to a large extent, the calendar of activities in the lives of the people. Even so, production of the crops was unusually demanding: the land preparation, the organization of the yams, making of the mounds, staking and managing the germinating tendrils demanded great expertise and hard work.
 
Above all, just before the onset of the rainy season (after the planting) the sprouting yams have to be visited mound-by-mound for a special tendering to facilitate appropriate development of the tubers. Each mound aerate as the shriveled seed yam is removed. This is to make room for the growing tuber to develop well unhindered.
 
Perhaps it is more in the realm of usage that the yam crop assumes even greater significance. It is the preferred crop. None of the crops cultivated by the people has greater and endearing social value like yam. It is the best crop for food: a farmers good harvest for it underscores his economic well being, ability to feed his family, both nuclear and extended and his credibility as a successful farmer: it is the crop used prominently in all social and religious festivities especially those that have to do with rituals to the deities.
 
It is the “King” of the crops, as Achebe puts it in his ‘Things Fall Apart’. So important is the yam among the people especially those of Peki Traditional area therefore that there are rigid ceremonies connected with the crops production/cultivation, particularly its harvest and subsequent use. It is the totality of these events that is referred to as the Tedudu or yam festival in more popular or corrupted palance.
 
The festival is usually held in September when the crop is harvested. It is preceded by a period of communal preparation including formal cleansing of the entire community. During this time all ‘old things of the past year are ritually discarded and thrown out in anticipation of a new yam and new year’. During the period also various traditional games and activities are organized usually on competitive among the clans of the Pek-Avetile community.
 
On the eve of the appointed day, families harvest the produce, i.e. the yam, but these are not brought home, they are kept at the outskirts of the house until all the rituals are concluded. On the ‘D’ day and time the harvested crop is brought home with great fanfare, merriment and jubilation. Farmers with the best crops are awarded formally by the Chief. There is even greater communal jubilation as ‘Tefufu’ (yam fufu) is prepared in almost every home and literally everybody welcome to partake.
 
A durbar climaxes the celebration. On occasion the chief sits in state to receive his subjects, friends and well wishers. He, in-turn delivers “a state of the community address’ in which he lays bare the vision of the coming year.

*Source:

                   The Spectator       page 32       
Saturday, August 23, 2008
 
 
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