The term Homowo translates as ‘Hooting at hunger’ and is a festival that not only acts as a celebration of remembrance but also as a new year celebration – the Ga new year starting in September.
The Ga people experienced a severe famine. Many people died, the cattle and general environment suffered. After a series of Prayers and Meditation they had a bumper harvest. That year the people celebrated and marked this celebration every year.
The dates for Homowo are calculated by the Dantu wulomo according to the Ga 13 Month Calendar. Each house celebrates in the order of which they arrived in Ga. How Homowo is marked by the various groups in Ga varies but all have the following activities:
Ban on Noisemaking – During this period the people are expected to meditate and pray. The Priests will also carry out certain rituals in the hope that the millet that has been planted during the Nmaa Dumo will grow. During this time there is no drumming and no one can be buried.
Day of return – When it’s time for Homowo the people must return to their fathers land. In Ga Mashie this day is called Soobii (Thursdays children) as the return usually happens on a Thursday – the day before Homowo in Ga Mashie
Sprinkling of Kpokpoi – This happens in all the towns. On the day of Homowo people cook the holy food of Kpokpoi and it is sprinkled around the town. This is for two reasons:
- Many people died during the famine that the Ga people suffered, sprinkling on the ground acts as a remembrance to those who died during the famine and also the year before.
- The animals also suffered and the kpokpoi sprinkled is also used for them to also eat and enjoy
There are other times that sprinkling is done, but this depends on the town. For example Nungua have a day where the sprinkle Kpokpoi on the graves of the royal ancestors. During the Homowo day the food is plentiful and anyone can go into any family house and eat.
Ngorwala – This is the day of the Homowo Day where any beef is settled. It’s the start of the new year and so no drama can be carried from the year before into the new year. Any family or friend disputes are settled and forgiven.
There are many other events that take place during this period that vary from group to group and this includes the Kpashimo for which Teshie is famous for. The Gbemlilaa and Aloomi Dzoomor of La and The Odadao where the ban is lifted in Gbese.
Video on the La Homowo by Gabriel Obodai Torgbor-Ashong