SOCIAL CONFLICTS IN CONTEMPORARY EFFUTU FESTIVALS
Abstract (Summary)The annual Deer Hunt Festival of the Effutu people of Ghana’s Winneba state continues to perplex the elders and chiefs of that land. Until recently, Aboakyer, which translates literally as “animal catch,” had been known as the nation’s most important traditional festival. But this has begun to change. A recent report in Ghana’s Sunday Mirror noted that the Aboakyer festival has decreased in importance. In its place, residents have begun to put their energy into the Fancy Dress Festival which, though initiated in the 1920s as a spoof on Western culture, has now taken on new importance, even replacing (for many) the Aboakyer. This shift is due to a variety of developments, including: arguments between practitioners of traditional religion and converts to Christianity, divisions between age groups (elders remaining committed to Aboakyer), and national political parties (with members of the National Democratic Congress supporting the Aboakyer and members of the New Patriotic Party supporting the Fancy Dress Festival). Complicating this further is an ongoing dispute, which has repeatedly resulted in violence, within the Effutu royal family, where the Gyateh (or Ghartey) line is fighting with the Ayrebi Acqua line over which line is the rightful ruler. This ongoing violence has generally pushed people away from celebrating the Aboakyer festival, including commercial companies that once offered financial and administrative assistance. The activities of both festivals are dominated by music and dance. For example, at the commencement of the deer hunt festival, elders meet at a shrine and invoke the spirit of the war god Penkye-Otu, who will lead them to the forest to hunt for a deer. Invocation is accomplished by singing provocative songs that anger the spirit who in turn mounts and possesses his followers, preparing them for the hunt. Though done surreptitiously, leaders of the Fancy Dress Festival invoke Penkye-Otu as well. These same songs, now presented in a secular context, are later performed by brass bands. This thesis will compare and contrast these two festivals. Research for the project was undertaken in Winneba in the summer of 2004 and included interviews with members of the Winneba traditional council, members of the brass ensembles, as well as elders, choreographers, and spiritual leaders of the four Fancy Dress Festival groups and the confederation that unites them. In addition I draw upon my own experience having grown up in Winneba and having participated in both festivals.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:aboakyer winneba fancy dress brass band
Date of Publication:01/01/2005