By: Eunice Poku
Photo credit: http:www.peacefmonline.com
The Aboakyer Festival, commonly known as the Deer-Hunting festival, is an annual festival that is celebrated on the first Saturday of May each year in the West African country, Ghana. The Festival is celebrated by the people of Simpa or Winneba (Efutus) in the Central Region of Ghana.
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Over the years this has been a great tourist attraction in the month of May. It has brought huge crowds of people from all over the world to partake in the daily activities and witness the traditions of the Winneba people.
The Aboakyer festival honors the migration of the people of the Western Sudan Empire to Simpa or what is today called Winneba. As tradition states, the migration of the people safely to the new land was guided by the god Penkye Otu. In return for this safe migration, Penkye Otu required a human sacrifice from the member of the royal family. Over the years, the people pleaded to the god, Otu for an animal sacrifice rather than a human sacrifice. The god accepted the deer in exchange for the human sacrifices.
The celebration includes a series of daily events:
- The first evening is marked by a brass band with singing and dancing.
- The following day rituals such as pouring of libation take place. There are companies that compete against one another for the capture of a live deer to be presented to the god, Otu. These companies participate in purifying baths in the seas before the hunt begins.
- Members of the companies offer sacrifices to the god, Penkye Otu before the deer hunting festival begins. Penkye Otu is also bathed and adorned in preparation for the hunt.
- The companies participating in the festival use clubs to capture the deer instead of industrialized weapons. The company that is able to catch the live deer first returns back with chants of victory.
- The live deer is carried by the winning team members back to the town. No activities take place until all the members of the companies return safely back into town.
- The last day of the festival is marked by the companies coming together and the winning company killing the deer in the presence of the Penkye Otu.