It’s the time of the year and the Homowo festival is here with us. Many residents of Accra have never participated in this festival not to mention non-residents. Others have associated the Homowo celebration to be a Ga affair. Still others see it as something not to be associated with as a Christian.
This year, a young man I trained some years back called me and told me he is now a professional tour guide and was having a tour with some tourist who are participating in the festival. I was very excited because I have always encouraged him to take up a career in tour guiding and that could be a source of livelihood.
I know many tour guides who happened to travel to the west at the invitation of tourists they met while guiding them. Others ended up marrying and have left the profession. One of my old-time friend and tour guide got married to an African American lady and moved to the US and is currently working in the George Washington Museum.
This young friend of mine and his visiting group of tourists are participating in Homowo festival for the first time and will be her for the next one week. I was glad to hear that, thus I told him I will encourage some students to join him and his guests to experience the festival. That is the little contribution I make to helping people partake in domestic tourism. We cannot develop our tourism if we keep depending on foreign tourists to visit whiles we seat on the fence.
The myth about the festival being something unrelated to Christianity is wrong and pastors who make these arguments should understand they are killing our economy. Being a visitor witnessing an event does not necessarily mean one believes in what is happening at the event neither does it also mean the event is a bad one.
We need to appreciate the fact that we are in Accra, the capital of Ghana and the land belongs to the Gas and irrespective of where we hail from, we need to co-exist as one people and as Ghanaians. After all we are all black Africans and Ghanaians. I will therefore use this medium to encourage all and sundry to go and witness the Homowo festival and use this opportunity to enjoy a city tour of Accra.
We need to understand that domestic tourism spending has propelled countries like China, USA, Japan, Brazil to the top. This was revealed in a World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) report. Whereas countries often tend to focus on international tourism due to the revenue earned through exports, domestic tourism remains the leading form of tourism, representing an important tool for regional economic growth and development. With over 50% of the global population now categorized as “middle class” or “rich”, more and more people can afford to travel.
Research suggests that domestic tourism demand picks up at an income level of about US$35,000, while international travel takes off at around US$50,000. An increasing number of households in emerging economies, which are approaching or have already reached these thresholds, including in China and India, are likely to contribute to sustained growth in domestic travel spending. In effect, in the next ten years an additional 65 million Chinese and 9 million Indians will enter the middle class. Domestic tourism (DT), historically speaking, is in fact the first form of tourism that was practiced and today it continues to account for the most part of this activity by far.
The WTTC report further reveals that, in 2017, domestic tourism represented 73% of the total global tourism spending (US$3,971 billion). While there are significant variations between countries, domestic contributions to Travel & Tourism reached 94% in Brazil and 87% in India, Germany, China and Argentina; with China accounting for 62% of global absolute growth in domestic spending over the past ten years.
This growth has enabled China to climb from fourth position in 2008 to the top spot in 2017, overtaking the USA to become the largest domestic travel market in the world. China’s domestic spending reached US$841 billion in 2017, followed by the USA with US$803 billion. Jointly, these two countries account for over 40% of world’s total domestic Travel & Tourism spending.
Over the last decade, the Chinese government has been a staunch supporter of domestic tourism, investing in the development of a rail network and air infrastructure to accommodate the expansion of low-cost carriers in second- and third-tier cities. This has improved transportation connectivity and reinforced tourism development in less visited areas. China is expected to remain the leader in domestic tourism, continuing to widen its lead with the USA by 2028. The COVID-19 Pandemic has made the most updated data limited.
Reliance on domestic tourism
Domestic travel is the main driving force of Travel & Tourism in major economies. In fact, in 22 countries of the 31 countries analysed, domestic tourism accounted for at least 50% of the total Travel & Tourism spending, with Brazil ranking first with 94% of spending coming from domestic tourists. Brazil is followed by India, Germany, China and Argentina each with 87%. Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US also enjoyed significant levels of domestic spending – all at 80% or more of Travel & Tourism’s internal spending.
I nearly got distracted. I’m not writing about domestic spending today. I’m talking Homowo. For those who don’t know what Homowo is all about, below are some few facts.
The word Homowo (Homo – hunger, wo – hoot) can mean “to hoot (or jeer) at hunger” in the Ga language. The tradition of Homowo started with a period of hunger leading to famine due to failure of the seasonal rains needed by crops in the Greater Accra Region, where the Ga people predominantly dwell. When the rains returned to normal, the Ga people celebrated by creating the Homowo festival, hence its name and meaning.
Homowo is greatly celebrated in all the towns in the Ga state with celebrations climaxing in Gamashie. The celebration begins with the planting of maize, which will be used in preparing the food for the festival named Kpokpoi or Kpekple. During this period, noise making is prohibited or banned since it is believed that it disturbs the gods.
The meal is eaten with Palm Nut Soup and it is also sprinkled within the town. This is normally done by traditional leaders and family heads. Celebration includes marching down roads and streets beating drums, chanting, face painting, singing and traditional dances. Even though the celebration of Homowo is a Ga tradition, many other ethnic groups are welcomed to also join in the celebration.
The homowo festival of the Ga tribe is believed to have a lineage from the Jewish tribe and its ancestral tradition of the Jewish Passover feast. The 2021 Homowo Festival is to also create attention on the culture of the Ga Dangbme and to also foster peace and unity among different people living on the Ga land.
Some of the towns that celebrate Homowo are La, Teshie, Teshie Nungua, Osu, Ga-Mashie, Tema, Prampram, and Ningo.
Event attractions have been one of the drivng forces in many countries especially those lacking in natural attractions.
We in Ghana are privileged to enjoy both and it is a fact the events have attracted many tourists in the past. As we are faced with the COVID-19 Pandemic, observation of the protocols especially wearing of the face mask must be enforced. We must not take is for granted especially the youth. Numbers are on the rise and we must remain safe even though we celebrate.
Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations