The chiefs and people of Winneba in the Central Region have called on the general public to patronize this year’s Aboakyir Festival scheduled to commence in the first week of May.
Addressing a press conference at Winneba on Monday, the Tufuhene of the Efutu Traditional Area, Neenyi Otuaboa Siripi II, said they are expecting about one million people across the country to partake in this year’s celebration with the people of Winneba.
He emphasized on the peace that has existed between the two Asafo Companies and the chiefs as a good sign that things will go well with the festival this year and beyond.
He said they are committed to ensuring that challenges that confronted the festival in the past do not recur.
He called thus called on the corporate entities to take advantage of the economic activities that would come with the festival.
The Chairman of the 2016 Aboakyir Board, Nana Kojo Badu VI, warned citizens of Winneba to desist from all criminal activities that could mar the beauty of the historic festival.
He said security would be on high alert to arrest and punish recalcitrant during the festival.
The press confab, which was organised by NYCE MEDIA, the media right owners of this year’s Aboakyir Festival, was attended by chiefs, board members and the leaders of the two Asafo companies.
The Chief Executive Officer of NYCE MEDIA, James Kofi Annan, said they are committed to re-brand and project the Aboakyir festival.
He said the one-weeklong festival would be climaxed with the Aboakyir football league Finals on Sunday.
Aboakyir Festival, which epitomises the rich Ghanaian culture of the people of Winneba in the Central Region, is many centuries old.
It is one of the most famous festivals on the Ghanaian calendar patronized by people from all walks of life.
The festival is celebrated by the Effutus in Winneba, a historic fishing town, traditionally christened ‘Simpa’.
Residents are known as Simpafo (people of Simpa). While these people belong to the Guan ethnic group, the Winneba land is inundated with Akans (the largest ethnic group in Ghana). These groups don’t speak the same language, although the Simpafo language borrows from Akan. Because of their mixed heritage, the Akans mostly refer to the Simpafo as Effutufo, which means “mixed people”. Accordingly, the Effutu people became the first settlers of the Gold Coast in Simpa – the name Simpafo.
Two weeks before the commencement of the festival, the chiefs and elders referred to as the Supi and the Osow (priest), meet at the Omanhene’s (Paramount Chief) Palace to discuss the upcoming activities.
After this meeting, the Omanhene places a Winneba district ban on deer hunting, drumming, and the playing of any electronic music including melodies from church organs.
Offenders are sent to the chief’s palace and are charged huge fines; which ranges from cash to bottles of schnapps to food stuffs. There are often clashes with Christians, who feel they do not belong to the old tradition and therefore need not go by the traditional prohibitions.
It is thought that the elders of the town use this quiet period to perform rituals pertaining to the old culture. At the same time, smaller groups meet secretly to practice the music and dance that is to be performed on the festival day.
Such meetings are held late in the night and are always accompanied with street parties. Aside the music ban, one is also slapped with a fine for making excessive noise.
The ban on music and dance is however lifted two weeks before the festival. That of hunting stops on the day of festival, after the return of the two Asafo groups.