The first Saturday of every November sees the main festival, Hogbetsotso, spring into life. It symbolizes the great exodus of Ewes from their ancestral home, Notsie, to their present abode around the 15th Century.
The Hogbetsotso Festival, which is celebrated at Anloga, the traditional home of the Anlos, attains a grand finale with a durbar of Chiefs and people amidst pomp and pageantry.
This year’s festival has been suspended by the Local Planning Committee, LOP, of the Anlo Festival. In a statement released by the LOP, consultations were done with Togbi Sri III, the Awoamefia of Anlo state, Togbi Agbesi Owusu, II, the Awadada of Anlo, and all stakeholders.
The statement explained that the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the underlining strict preventive protocols vis-a-vis the expected large attendance are the main reasons the festival is being suspended .
The planning committee however is hopeful that the festival will bounce back in 2022.
Hogbetsotso-za has become a rallying festival and spirit for Anlos all over the world. Its importance and significance cannot be overestimated.
The name of the festival is derived from the Ewe language and translates as the festival of exodus. or “coming from Hogbe (Notsie)”.
The Anlo clan is a group of people from a tribe on the eastern coast of Ghana. Prior to their settling in their present location, they lived in Notsie, a town in present-day Togo. It is believed that they had migrated from southern Sudan to settle in Notsie.
Oral tradition has it that they lived under a wicked king, Togbe Agorkoli, and in order to escape his tyrannical rule, they had to create a hole in the mud wall that surrounded their town. They achieved this by instructing the women to pour all their wastewater on one particular place in the wall.
Over time the spot became soft, thereby allowing the townspeople to break through the wall and escape. Tradition also holds that to avoid pursuit and make good their escape, they walked backward with their faces towards the town so that their footprints appeared to be going into the town.
Various ceremonies are held during the festival. They include a peace-making period in which all disputes are ended with the finding of an amicable solution.
It is believed that the reason for this traditional period of peacemaking is that the people believe their ancestors lived in harmony with themselves all through their escape from Notsie and that it was this character that made their sojourn a success.
There is also a purification ceremony of the ceremonial stools (where the Ewe believe the ancestral spirits reside) through the pouring of libations. This is followed by general cleaning where all the villages are swept and rubbish burnt. This cleaning ceremony starts at the Volta River and ends after several days at the Mono River in the Republic of Togo.
The climax of the festival involves a durbar of the chiefs and people of Anlo. The chiefs dress in colorful regalias, such as kente, gold ornaments, and receive homage from their subjects at the durbar grounds. Various forms of dancing, singing, and merry-making characterize the entire festival.
Also, religious cults are displayed through some magical performances. Such cults include the Korku and Yewe cults. One interesting feature is to see the members of the Korku cult cut themselves without effect with sharp knives.
Source: Ghana Web