African festivals are celebrations in honour of an individual, a book, music, film etc.
Once a thing or individual has gain prominence and popularity, it can become a festival. Also, authority over art can be turned into a festival.
African festival is a broad range of topic. Nevertheless, the theme of this site is cultures and traditions. So to narrow our topic, we will be studying African cultural festivals.
A welcome friend is so nice to meet you. Relax with me as I take you through a tour of the amazing African festivals.
We will take our tour through different African countries. Do you think five African culture festival per country is cool?. I think so.
African Cultural Festivals In Nigeria
Festivals in Nigeria is a sight to behold. It makes your mouth drop with wonders. It is so amazing that it is gaining a lot of populace.
There are lots of African festivals in this country and each is peculiar. Nigeria has diverse cultures and traditions and the African cultural festival is one of them.
This is the list of my top five honoured African festivals in Nigeria.
1. Argungun Fishing Festival
This is a festival that must be watched by all. Have you tried catching fish? Imagine you and thousands of people trying to catch the biggest fish? I bet is going to be fun.
Catching the biggest fish is what the Argungun festival is all about. It is a festival that is birthed in Kebbi. A Northern state in Nigeria. Usually, it holds four days a week, every year.
The land is made up of more rivers. Due to this, we have lots of fishermen and farmers. I praise the one who founded this fishing sport. It is indeed awesome. He/she see what they have and created an amazing African festival from it.
Argungun cultural festival has been ongoing since 1934 and the aim is to create a wonderful fishing experience and unity in the community. Lovely right? Now to our next festival.
2. Eyo Festival
Eyo festival is sometimes called the Adimu Orisha festival. It is a festival I call the white. A festival that brings blessings to the people and takes away the curse. Do you know the Eyo festival is a celebration of our ancestors? And during the African cultural festival, there is a masquerade display called Eyo?
Well, the Eyo festival is a celebration of our late fathers. It is a way the Lagosians pay respect to their dead loved ones. It is a place where the community come together as one to celebrate the departed souls.
In celebrating these souls, the individuals representing the spirits put on white regalia, a cap and a stick. The caps have different colours and each tells of the status of the Eyo masquerade.
According to seniority, the eldest put on a black cap, followed by red, yellow, green, white and purple. Eyo African cultural festival is celebrated in Lagos the southwest of Nigeria.
Before now, the Eyo masquerade only comes out during the coronation of a king, or the death of a king. Now it has become an African festival and a major one at that.
3. Osun Cultural Festival
The first time I heard about this festival, I was in the university. The lecture was about African traditions and cultures. We later discuss African dance, African masquerade and African festivals and this is when the Osun festival came up.
As we progress in the study, the lecturer said, do you know the Osun priestess is a white lady? A white lady? Priestess? How? He said yes. A white lady is the present priestess of the Osun worship.
Wow, this is getting interesting. A white lady as a priestess in a Nigerian traditional worship system. We must meet this white woman we told our professor.
Her name is Susan Wenger, from Australia. She lived and died in Nigeria serving the goddess.
Osun festival is a celebration in honour of the goddess of fertility. An honoured tradition by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. It is celebrated every year in August, for twelve good days, at the Osun sacred groove.
In the grove, we have sculptures of the Osun deity and other deities. It is a sanctuary on its own, and a house of many sculptures and artworks. Including that of Susan Wenger.
The climax of the festival is when the sacred calabash is carried by Arugba from the Oba’s Palace to the Osun river bank. In the calabash, there are offerings and sacrifices for the goddess. Usually, these offerings are food items.
4. Durbar African Festival
Hawan Dausge is known as the Durbar festival. Hawan Danusa is the negative name of this festival. The Hausa people from the North are the host of the Durbar cultural festival.
This is an African festival like no other. It is one of a kind in the whole African traditions and cultures. This is an African cultural festive that mix grace, strength and royalty.
Durbar festival is held twice a year as part of the celebrations at the end of Ramadan and Eid-ur-Kabir. It is a gathering of able-bodied men with full colourful regalia on a house. The procession commences from the king’s palace to the parade ground. The Emir (king), dress in all royalty is the last rider in the procession.
You can watch the horsemen prance majestically while they put their sword in action. It is a Nigerian dance sword parade that will melt your heart. Like I said earlier, the festival is about strength and valour. This is a display to honour their leader, the king.
Apart from the horse ride, there are other animals also decorated and displayed. We have hyenas, baboons and camels. You can also fill your eyes with other acrobats and jesters.
If you are tasty and need some mouth-watering food, there are vendors all around you. So make a choice.
The zenith of the Durbar festival is the Jahi race. In this race, the horsemen run in full speed and force towards the king. They abruptly stop and turn back a few inches near the king raising the flag or their sword.
5. New Yam Festival
Yam the king of all crops. The most reverence culture in Igbo lands. The Igbo’s are a fascinating people in the southeast of Nigeria. They are known for their rich cultural heritage and their sense of business.
Do you know the famous Ijele masquerade? It is from these people.
New yam festival marks the beginning of a planting season and harvest. The festival is held between August and October festival in Anambra state Nigeria.
On the day of this African festival, the yam is the only food eaten. It is prepared in various delicacies. If there are old yams, they are kept away.
The festival lasts for about a week or two. On the deal day, the king/eldest man in the community prays for the community. They also give thanks to the ancestors for a good harvest season.
During the festival, there are masquerade display, pageant and a lot of cultural entertainment.
African Cultural Festivals In Ghana
Festivals in Ghana are unique. It is tribe specific and each festival is attributed to the history of the culture. Festivals are also held in honour of the harvest seasons.
There are African festivals every month in ghana that shows the splendour and beauty of each tribe. However, we will stick to African cultural festivals in Ghana. These festivities aim to create communal living and also to celebrate culture.
This is my top five fascinating Ghana cultural festival.
1. Homowo Festival
This is an African festival about harvest. It is celebrated in May in the capital city, Accra Ghana. The Ga people of Ghana are the host of this festival.
During this planting season, maize and yam are planted before the rains start. To add style and elegance to the Homowo festival, Ghana traditional dance Kpanlogo is performed.
In remembrance of the famine in the history of the Ga people, is the reason for this festival.
2. Bakatue Festival
This festival is held in July by the Elmina tribe. It represents the beginning of the fishing season. Bakatue means the draining of a lagoon and it is from the Fante language.
The Bakatue African festival has been ongoing since 1847. To honour the establishment of the Elmina people, the Bakatue festival is created.
There are lots of activities display to honour the gods for a good fishing season. One such display is net catching. The catch is then offered to the gods.
In the gathering of finely dressed chiefs and people, are singing, drumming and dancing. A big display of canoe in the lagoon is also a spectacle in the festival.
3. Kundum Festival
The festival is celebrated to thank the gods for an abundance of food during the harvest period. It is a festival held by the Ahanta people of the western province of Ghana.
Since the 17th century, the Kundum festival has been in existence. Myth has it that, once upon a time, a hunter called Ampoley went to the forest and by chance, he saw some dwarfed dancing in circles.
The ritual dance is to ward off evil spirits from the towns and villages. During the festival, the dance is performed by the Axim people and neighbouring community.
Kundum festival is a religious and harvest celebration. It begins when a certain palm fruit becomes ripe.
It holds for four weeks but the first three weeks, dancing, singing and drumming is held in the out skit of town. In a place called Siedu/Sienu.
The three major components of the Kundum festival is dancing, singing and feast. In terms of dress code, there is a special attire for the occasion.
From the dress to footwear, and sometimes they wear a mask. At the beginning of the festival, the musicians take five different drums to the shrines in the out skit of town.
At the shrine, prayers are offered to the gods for the well being of the people. A libation of rum is also offered by pouring some on the ground.
4. Hogbetsotso Festival
The Hogbetsotso festival is a celebration by the chiefs and people of Anlo in the Volta regions of Ghana. It is a yearly festival that is held on the first Saturday in November.
The name Hogbetsotso is gotten from the Ewe dialect. It means the festival of exodus/coming from Hogbe. This festival has been in existence for four decades.
Tales have it that the Anlo people migrated from southern Sudan to live in Notsie. A lot of ceremonial activities is performed during the festival. The most celebrated is peace dispute resolution.
During this celebration, all dispute is settled amicably and a lasting solution is provided. The reason for this particular celebration is to honour the ancestors.
According to the oral traditions of the Anlo people, once upon a time, the people was ruled by a wicked king. When they could not take it, they planned their escape. It was a risk, but in the end, they escaped from the wicked king.
The people believe if the ancestors did not work together, they would not have archive success in their escape. So that is how this ceremony is created.
Also, during this African festival, a purification ceremony holds. The stool Ewe is cleansed because it is believed that is where the spirit lives. For the cleaning, a libation is poured.
There is also a cleaning ceremony. The whole village is swept and waste burning. The sweeping starts from the Volta River and ends after days at the Mono River in the Republic of Togo.
The height of this African cultural festival is the body of chiefs and the people in a native court. The chiefs dress in beautiful and colourful regalia, while the people pay homage to them in the court.
5.Bugum Chugu African Festival
The fire festival also called Bugum Chugu is an African festival that originated from the Dagomba people. The festival comes up on the first month of the people’s lunar year. While the month of fire, Bugum Goli is celebrated on the ninth day of the month.
The reason for the festival is to remember the day the king’s son went missing. How did this myth go?
once upon a time, a little prince went out to play with his friends. He got tired after a while, then decided to take a rest under a big tree close by. When it was late in the evening, the other children left. No one remembers he was sleeping under a tree.
It was time for supper at home but the little prince is nowhere to be found. The mother called the attention of the king and a search party, and the warriors of the were gathered. After searching for a while with no success, they asked his friends about him. The children could not remember anything and so the search continued.
Late into the night, he was found still sleeping under the tree. The king said the tree was evil for it stole his son. The people threw their stick with fire and torches they were carrying on the tree and shamed it.
Over the years, the people still throw sticks with fire and torches on the tree. On their way to the evil tree, they match like warriors. They also played and dance a traditional Ghana dance from the tindaamba land priest called ziem. The dress code of the festival is still a warrior costume like in the early years.
Preparation For Bugum Chugu Festival
On the ninth day of Bugum Goli, the festival commenced. No manual labour is carried out on this day except house chores. This day, all stay at home. For the men, they start the day by visiting friends and wishing them a happy Bugum festival/ happy new year. The young boys search for dry grass to prepare long touches.
After that, they distribute it to their aged and also aunties and uncles. In the noon, the family prepare a meal of chicken, sheep, guinea – fowl, or goat. What is important, is that the meals should be prepared according to what you can afford. The majority of the people prepare a soup made from leaves called puhuga (Tamaridus indica).
Bugum Chugu African cultural festival feast holds in the afternoon and evening. Everyone receives a bowl of meal from neighbours and this leads to lots of meal not eaten. Another fascinating cultural practice is the putting of food on short walls for the ancestors. This is like the Nudukwu festival in Ogume Kwale Delta state Nigeria. while the food is placed, a prayer of thanks and request are made.
The ritual for the festival starts after the evening meal. A drumbeat is made at the palace by the drum beater. Through the sound of the drum, other drummers and the elders come out. The village people also hear the drum beats and join the elders at the palace. When all have conveyed, the elders and chief orator by the name walana invite the king.
When he is out, he walks to a safe place from the crowd and put fire on his grass. He is the first to put fire on his touch. Before now, the people already have their grass with them. When this is done, he walks to the palace as the people shout in a warlike manner. There is a spot in the community allocated to the celebration of the festival.
For fear of fire, people put their sticks high, and also wet their clothes. Ladies are hardly seen around except the ones who are not scared. For the women, they stay at home until others return. Tools carried during the festival are torches, cutlass, knives, bows and arrows, swords. The atmosphere is warlike and visitors might feel insecure if they are greeted with such a scene without fair knowledge.
wow, what a tradition right? I must confess these African festivals are out of this world. Which of these African Festivals would you like to be part of?
There are numerous African festivals peculiar to each African country. It tells the history and culture of the people. Through these festivals, Africans showcase their culture and traditions to the world.
Every African country has their festival. This list is limited to Ghana and Nigeria alone. However, in the course of my research, I notice cultural festivals in Africa are being modernized.
How the festivals came to being are no longer told/ limited information is available.
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