The Chiefs and people of Okuapeman have begun the celebration of the annual Odwira festival from September 28 and it is set to end on October 4, 2020 at Akropong-Akuapem in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
The 194th edition of the festival is taking place in a safe and socially distanced environment in the ‘new normal’– with programmes curated to equip students with the relevant skills and materials, breast screening for the general public and donations of educational and essential materials needed to stay safe during the pandemic.
Dubbed ‘Safe and Smart Okuapeman’, this year’s festival is set to combine the bright cultural drumbeat at the heart of the Odwira Festival, with the green scenery, while promoting a digitally Smart and Safe Akuapem. Ewo Wo Nsem means literally, ‘It is In Your Hand’s.
Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic and with the installation of the newest and youngest Paramount Chief in Ghana, Oseadeeyo Kwasi Akuffo III, the theme for the Odwira 2020 is ‘A Safe Smart Okuapeman’ by delivering three distinct and mutually related goals – Culture, Identity and Leadership, Smart Learning and Smart Togetherness.
For nearly 200 years, generations of Akropong, Amanokrom and Aburi have annually celebrated the Odwira festival which was initiated by Nana Addo Dankwa I, who was then the 19th Okuapehene of Akuapem.
The celebration is linked to the victory of the people of Okuapeman over the then powerful Asante army during the historic battle of Katamansu near Dodowa in 1826. Being a Yam festival, traditionally, the timing of Odwira also coincides with the harvest season of the New Yam when there is abundant food; gratitude for the harvest is especially expressed in “feeding” the ancestors.
Odwira is always preceded with the clearing of the path to Amanprobi which ushers in the Odwira with the purification of the Kingdom with herbs followed by the parading of the harvest of new yams through the principal streets of Akropong, capital of Okuapeman. This is accompanied by singing, drumming and dancing which signifies the traditional lifting of the ban on noisemaking, imposed 40 days earlier, in preparation for the Odwira festival.
In addition to these age-old customs, this year’s festival will be set apart with a donation to schools, coding lessons, fontomfrom dance competitions and the observance of social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s celebration also encourages individuals, organizations and companies to be bold and start again from “ground zero” due to the impact of the pandemic while providing some essentials to our communities and caring for one another. And of course, it is always a time of great cultural and spiritual significance for the people of Okuapeman and all who celebrate it.
The general public is invited to visit www.odwirafestival.com for more information and to join the people of Okuapeman for a unique cultural experience at Odwira 2020.