Celebrating Ada Asafotufiami Festival @ 76

Ada Asafotufiami FestivalWhen in 1937, a group of prophetic and public spirited  citizens sought audience  with the chiefs and elders of the Ada State  to  impress  upon them to  allow for institution of an annual festival , it was  for a cultural essence, being  a unifying  front for the Ada State.

The dream of the trailblazers was for a just and peaceful cause, not only for themselves but also for posterity. This seed, sown by the Ada Pastors and Teachers Association (APTA), in collaboration with the Ada National Improvement Association (ANIA), has transformed a small local celebration –Asafotufiami – into a huge cultural festival with a global appeal.

The Asafotufiami festival has chalked its seventy-sixth milestone this year  under the theme: “Quality of Education – Key to the Development of the Ada Traditional Area.” Although attendance was not as encouraging as in previous years, nonetheless, the display by musketeers, march past by youth groups and the royal palanquin procession added colour and   beauty.

Naana  Adu  Akrofi, Matse Kopey Manye; Nene Tsatsu Pediator IV, Kudjiragbe  Asafoatsengua , Nene Obuade I ,a  Development Chief of Ada  and Nene Okukrubuor Teye Kwasi Agyeman, Chief of Numerse, Dodowa(who has been a regular guest) caught the attention of this writer.  Resplendent in their kente and ornamental adornment, they were quite a sight for sore eyes.

Beyond the  joy  of celebrants ,  the menacing presence  of  the large number  of riot control police  in full gear, did not portray  a celebration with  the usual  free atmosphere. There was an uneasy calm. Why was the durbar ground at the festival packed with so many security personnel?  Was the Ada State under siege?

Conspicuously missing at this year’s Asafotufiami grand durbar , were the heads of the four   Okor clans.  Nene Buertey Okumko Obuapong IV, Adibiawe Asafoatsengua, Nene Asiedu Agblo V, Lomobiawe Asafoatsengua, and Nene Osabutey Lanuer Okumo III, Dangmebiawe Divisional Chief all failed to attend. Although Nene Glorgoh  Dadebom Anim V, Terkperbiawe  Asafoatsengua  was at the  durbar,  his clan boycotted it.

The boycott, coming on the heels of the national call for peace and unity should be a matter of concern. Was the boycott a matter of genuine grievance or a case of sour grapes?
Speaking for the Lomobiawe clan, Ngmongmlo Wornor Nomo Teye Abayateye, said during the last Asafotufiami grand durbar, a woman was introduced as Ada Manye and this surprised them because there was no official installation of an Ada Manye. According to him they  brought  the issue to the notice of Nene Ada ; but he  told  them  the  woman in question was  Kabiawe-Yumu  Manye . This they later found that to be false because they had documentary proof that she was gazetted as Ada Manye.

They claimed that Nene Ada used his position as the President of the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs to push that agenda.  They  also alleged that, the Ada Traditional Council did not  give the Okor Priests  their  allocation of funds  for  purification rites prior to the festival as has been the norm and to add insult to injury, the pictures of their members  were not featured in the 2013 Asafotufiami festival programme and this they found discriminatory.

Nomo Teye Abayateye said several attempts by their leaders to meet with Nene Ada, to discuss all their grievances failed as each time they went to the palace they were   told he was asleep and would not be disturbed.

The issues raised by the Lomobiawe clan were corroborated by the Asafoatsengua of the Adibiawe clan, Nene Buertey Okumko Obuapong IV, and Nene Osabutey Lanuer Okumo III, divisional chief of the Dangmebiawe clan.
When contacted, Nene Tsatsu Pediator IV, Asafoatsengua of the Kudjiragbe Clan, said he did not know the reason for the boycott but said the alleged enstoolment of an Ada Manye was untrue.

“The idea of Ada Manye has not even been mooted. There are several things that would have to be taken into consideration if such an issue ever came up. First of all, there should be a consensus   by the Ada Traditional Council as to which of the ten clans would produce the prospective candidate for nomination and consequent enstoolment as Ada Manye. The next point to consider is where the palace of Ada Manye would be sited. So you see, it is not an easy task at all.”  Nene Pediator   IV said.

One noticeable flaw in the organization of the festival was the inability of the organizers to take necessary security precautions to protect life and property. The celebration was beset with several criminal activities. This phenomenon which started some few years ago has been increasing year in and year out.

On the night of the grand durbar, around 10.45 p.m, one Samuel Kpakpo Adotevi was attacked by five masked cutlass wielding thugs around Kponkpo. They tried without success to snatch his ash-coloured   Mazda 3 with registration number ER 1963-12 and in the process left him badly bruised.

In a related development, a sales girl of a drinking spot near the Big-Ada Methodist Primary School lost all her day’s sales to thieves whilst another woman was reportedly robbed of nine hundred   Ghana cedis at Alata.

Several   contacts with the Ada East District Police Commander, Chief Superintendent of Police, Yamba, on phone to find out if any of the incidents came to their notice yielded no results as he always promised to get back to me but he never did.

Nonetheless, concerns on the ground indicate growing incidents of criminal activities during past celebrations.  There is therefore the need for a more comprehensive security arrangement for future celebrations to ensure safety.

The Asafotufiami festival is the only strong bond that firmly binds the umbilical cord of indigenes to the Ada state. Going forward, the general view was that, whatever misunderstandings there were at the Ada Traditional Council must be properly looked into and resolved once and for all.

In his  welcome address  during the  Asafotufiami festival grand durbar two years ago,  Nene Ada said  in ancient times ,the Adas  fought a lot of  wars;  though the wars  still continue, it is against poverty, illiteracy and disease.

The war against poverty, illiteracy and disease can be won only in an atmosphere of peace and in an environment of unity. The fact that four out of the ten clans of the Ada state did not take part in this year’s Asafotufiam festival was an indication of something  gone awry somewhere. Whatever the issues are, it is only prudent that they are brought out into theopen and resolved; ignorance of the problem, will only be a deliberate misfortune.

Ada is gradually becoming one of the preferred tourism destinations in Ghana today. A large number of  people visit there   on weekends  and  on holidays   to  view  the Volta River  estuary  at  Azizanya  and  have  fun  at the  Tsarley  Korpe  Beach Resort  because  they find Ada a safe and peaceful haven. The need for peace is therefore paramount in order to move Ada forward.

P.S: –    This article is dedicated to the memory of the late Samuel Ofoli Portuphy (aka Sam Port) whose tragic death is still holding my mind to ransom. He was my resource person at the time of this article. We ended our telephone conversation at exactly 7: 00 p.m on that fateful Thursday. A couple of hours later, I was informed he passed on. Tragically enigmatic! What else is there to say?  Fare thee well Sam Port, and may you have a safe passage Home.  The author is an officer of the Information Services Dept. Accra. His E-mail: otorplahar@yahoo.com

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