Thursday, July 5-11, 2007
Cheers at Bakatue festival
By: JUNO ABENA TURKSON & LINDA SAFOA ANTWI
Two boatfuls of colourfully attired maidens, the best Elmina can boast of, stole the show at the public events that marked Bakatue, the harvest festival of the Edena Traditional Area on Tuesday.
Clad in brightly coloured clothes, the virgins sang and danced to cheers from the large gathering present. The intermittent display of the tekwuwa-wearing young women broke the monotony of the fiercely competing fishermen who were out to prove their muscle power through rowing in a boat race.
The regatta forms part of the Bakatue Festival which is held in remembrance of the much revered Benya, patron god of the Benya lagoon. Benya is also credited with assisting Kwamankwa the founder of Elmina, to establish the community.
The regatta drew a lot of people to the banks of the river which included tourists and Ghanaians who had traveled from all parts of the country. But it was the townsfolk who turned out in their numbers to have most of the fun.
Some children also decided to have fun on the lagoon and field into the canoes that were not competing and showed off their rowing prowess. It was a sight to behold as children as young as seven and eight paddled canoes and sang songs to the amusement of the crowd.
*Rituals over, the Traditional Priest was first to cast his net'.
The regatta aspect of the Bakatue Festival of the people of Elmina took on a national dimension when the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) in connection with the Edina Traditional Council, The Central Regional Co-ordinating Council and the Komenda- Edina-Eguafo-Abirem District Assembly organized the first National Regatta.
What was different about this year’s edition was the participation of three other fishing communities in the Central and Western regions in the regatta They were Abuesi from the Western Region, Briwa and Moree from the Central Region.
Speaking to the Showbiz before the festivities commenced, Mr. Ben Ohene-Ayeh, Public Relations Manager of GTB, said the Board decided to invest in the Regatta because they believed strongly in the tourism potential to unite the fishing communities along the coast of Ghana and the possibilities of improving the economic situation of these communities through tourism and grabbed it.
“This being the first event, we were only able get three other communities to participate but we are looking in future to expand the festival to encompass all the fishing communities form the Western through to the Central, Greater Accra and the Volta regions of Ghana. We are even considering the possibilities of inviting fishing communities from other West African countries”.
In all, about 156 fishermen from the Fishermen’s Association of the Central and Western Regions took part in the regatta. These were grouped into 16 teams comprising 10 fishermen in each boat which had been branded in national colours and colours of the various sponsors. After preliminary rounds of the competition between the 16 groups, the top four groups competed for first, second and third place honours.
When the chiefs and people of Elmina climax their annual Bakatue Festival with a durbar on Saturday, July 7, 2007 it will be Justice the competing group from Elmina who will be crowned winners of the First National Regatta. Justice from Elmina placed first followed by Biriwa and Esukesedo also from Elmina grabbing the third place.
Although each of the groups received ¢1 million for participating in the competition the winners, first runner-up and second runner–up will receive ¢5million, ¢3million and ¢1million respectively. In addition all the winners will receive sponsors’ products. The cash awards were given by CCT, dealer in fishing equipment.
*Chiefs and Queen-mothers were at centre stage of the activities
Also there to lend their support to the occasion were the Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Hon. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Hon. Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, MP for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo Abirem,the Omanhene of the Edina Traditional Area, Nana Kodwo Condua V1 as well as other chiefs and Queen-mothers from the Traditional Council.
GRAPHIC SHOWBIZ - Thursday, July 5-11, 2007 Page: 8