Okyir (New Year) Festival Video Selections

Video Selections:

Day 3
In the late afternoon of the third day of the Okyir Festival a competition had been organized between traditional music groups from the town. Three groups participated in 1992–odenkese, adzewa  and adenkum. A canopy was set up at the edge of the durbar grounds under which the judges and a few invited guests were seated. One at a time, the groups approached the judges and presented two or three numbers. The video clip includes a few seconds of footage of each of the three groups as they approach the judges. That night there was also a vigil held by the town’s akomfo that I did not witness.

Day 4
The fourth day of the festival was its ceremonial climax and included a colorful procession through the town by the community’s key organizations and a festive durbar. The clip begins with the head of the procession, which includes representatives of the akomfo and the paramount chief (including the royal fontomfrom ensemble).
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Asafo companies follow–here we see Co. No. 6’s frankakitsanyi waving a company flag followed by the company’s official voice, its asafokyen, upon which texts are being drummed.
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The procession makes a stop at the paramount chief’s palace to present libations to ancestors and important local spirits.
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The procession is re-organized–here we see the asafo companies being addressed and ordered numerically. A bugle call signals the paramount chief’s emergence from his palace.
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The now much filled-out procession recommences on its route to the durbar grounds with the fetish priestesses leading the way and followed by the first two asafo companies.
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Later, Asafo Co. No. 6 passes by.
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Towards the end of the procession are the chiefs from the Anomabu Traditional Area, with the omanhene (paramount chief) and his entourage (which includes the royal fontomfrom drums) situated at the very end.
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Meanwhile, at the durbar grounds the crowd that is already gathering in anticipation of the arrival of the procession is being entertained by a brass band. The grounds, a large open field, are fringed with canopies underneath which spaces have been reserved for the groups participating in the procession.
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The procession arrives at the durbar grounds and its participants head for their assigned places.
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At the end of the procession is the entourage of the paramount chief.
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All sorts of performances take place in a seemingly spontaneous manner on the open grounds. First we see a display of soccer ball handling,
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an asafo flag presentation,
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the brass band strutting its stuff,
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a ribald (and perhaps inebriated) improv group,
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the town adenkum group, and
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some very flexible acrobats.
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Later, the mood becomes more formal as all the official participants shake hands with the omanhene (a symbolic reaffirmation of their allegiance), libations are poured, prayers are spoken and
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formal speeches are delivered.

Day 5
Activities on the fifth day of the Okyir Festival take place on the beach next to Fort William. At one time or another in the course of the day, almost everyone will submerge themselves in the ocean for a moment as a symbolic act of cleansing called “sea bathing.”
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Other more organized activities include wrestling matches,
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displays of group solidarity (e.g., a women’s club singing and dancing),
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tug-of-war competitions, and boat races (not shown).
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Throughout the day new groups continue to arrive at the beach, often times singing and dancing. In some of the concluding segments the Anomabu apatampa group, dressed in their diagonally-striped outfits, can be seen and heard getting into the spirit of the celebration.

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