Every ethnic group in Ghana is said to have migrated from an ancient country to their present location and this does not exclude the Ewe group who have settled largely in the Volta Region in the Southern part of the country among who the Hogbetsotso Festival is celebrated.
In a bid to keep memories of how their journey has been and to pass on their history and culture onto newer generations, these ethnic groups celebrate festivals to commemorate, appreciate and ask for protection from whatever they hold dear.
For the Anlo’s, a section of the Ewes comprising of 36 states, Hogbetsotso is a festival they celebrate annually to mark a rather unpleasant journey from a land that no one would wish to return to. The festival which comes with various activities comes off every first week of November annually.
Here, we want to take you through some of the histories that led to the introduction of the festival and details of activities that come on during the celebration. Come with us now.
Please read this, one of the events of the festival; Xetoto Arts Festival: Four Youngsters Blend Arts And Culture Into Tourist Attraction In Volta Region
Background of Hogbetsotso Festival
Hogbetsotso Festival is one of the indigenous festivals in Ghana celebrated by the people of Anlo to commemorate their escape from Notsie in Togo to their present location. The name, Hogbetsotso, is derived from the ewe dialect where ‘Ho’ means ‘move’, ‘gbe’ meaning ‘day’, and ‘tsotso’ means crossing over or getting up.
According to Agbotadua Kumasa, a spokesperson for the Anlo chiefs, Ewes were ruled by both good and cruel kings among whom King Agorkoli is said to be the most ruthless.
According to history, at a point in time, the king ordered the people to erect a security wall of size and height of 24′ x 18′ around the kingdom with clay mixed with hedgehogs, bristles, prickly thorns, and broken pots.
When Ewes had enough of King Agorkorli, women were asked to desecrate the wall with wastewater, and with time the clay began to soften and this gave them the chance to bring it down and launch their escape.
Here are the last words of the king of the Anloland; Togbui Sri; King of Anlo Land’s Words of Advice (Togbui Sri ƒe Nuxlɔmenyawo)
The celebration is incomplete without the traditional Husago dance. On the night of their planned escape from Notsie, cultural anthropologists say the Anlos tactically danced in a backward movement to the throbbing music of the “Adekpetsi” and the “Husago” drums so that their footsteps will not be traced for their capture.
October marks the beginning of the festival season and it continues till November, a time when the land is spiritually cleansed. According to their belief, many acts that the people engaged in defiled the land, so they do consecration of the land in a process called “afekplorkplor” and in another rite called “dordede” through which physical objects are cleansed.
One must know that during this period of festivities, there is a one-month ban on drumming activities in the land in a bid to please the gods of the land. There is also a mini-durbar for kids mostly from basic schools situated in all 36 states.
The finality of the festival is held on the first Saturday of November with a grand durbar of chiefs and the paramount ruler of the land, Togbui Sri with the invitation of chiefs from other lands and Statesmen of the country. On this day, there is a colourful display of the rich culture of the people.
Many tourists visit the land for the event and at this time hotels and guest houses in the land get occupied to the fullest. Oh lest I forget, there is also a music carnival organized on the day before the durbar. This is organized by celebrities from the land headed by Edem.
Originally Compiled By: JUSTINE NUTEPE AMUZU