After “Fetu Afahye” in Cape Coast

Of all the parochial festivals in this country, I would suppose to be unchallenged to state that the “OguaaFetuAfahye” is the most popular.  For its brow-raiser, jaw lowering, gaiety, beauty and fashion which are combination of too much of resplendent quality of oversized flotilla as if extraordinarily choreographed and real raw archival pomp and pageantry, exclusively Cape Coast-defining in a potpourri of hilarious people, palanquin chiefs between majestic procession and hovering tourists and  ecstatic visiting throngs. Saturday 3 September 2022 wrote its epoch, including political for its annals and exemplified the best in quintessential Ghanaian culture without pretence and or fuss—such a great mirabillevisu [wonderful to shockingly amazing].  It is memorable to easily want to forget or be no “Oliver asks for more”.  But there was a hiccup that were best forgiven—president Nana Akufo-Addo’s .  That shall be recalled here later. 

I am not sure, mostly from oral history passed on, the records of the exactness of Afahye’s starter date.  My estimates would approximate between the top end of the 19th centuries when the budding township had grown well populated and received autonomy from Abura with the concurrence of the chief of Elmina, titular overlord.  That began the reign of Nana Mbra Ansa ( III) and the dynasty changed subsequently from paternal [Aboredze clan] to maternal [Ebiradze]. (There had been in the earlier arrangement Essilfie I {Assirfi] and Kwesi Atta I).  The festival had to be celebrated halfedly during the years of the split—1945/48 and on-off or frozen after the death of Mbra V—hiatus and succession dispute.  Covid added its halt until the recent still overshadowed by continued feuding, within a section of the king-maker family—a Trio of Households.  But overall, with the exception of the totally-avoidable presidential semi-spat, it was a triumph for unity which is peace and keeping a veritable tradition intact.

  As I understood the narrative, the president arrived ahead of the gathering of the Omanhene and procession at the venue for closure of the parade ceremonies featuring speeches; the most prominent being speeches and prominently, the president’s.  Urgent information to nudge up acceleration yielded kind of “we are on our way”.  When they showed up settled down the president spoke briefly including exeat to leave for another scheduled meeting elsewhere.  He left behind an apparently far from warm hosts who eventually brought that partial climax of the jollity to a manageable end.  The extent of what that led unfurled later, as if everyone was digesting though there were lots of talking into next dawn .

Then alas! The morning after Sunday thanksgiving service was like hell breaking.  Anger expressed in disparaging remarks were all over the town –the electronic media, streets and people drinking in bars and the only talking issue in open and private homes at lunch parties. You sensed the fury had kick-started no-holds-barred un-forgiveness.  The national dailies got a good bashing too for lack of prominence-coverage.  Unable to defend with ‘editorial discretion’ and news valuation optional freedom runs in the suspicion of influence even pressure tweaking influencing and fingers point at alleged government “sinister control”.  That may be hackneyed; yet, “Cape Coast is Cape Coast”.  Its coat of arms at London Bridge speaks it, written boldly.  I think that the situation had needed only a sleight of hand touch of diplomacy from both sides. 

Here are probable speculative to foster appreciation for why that “touch” slipped all or was lost, inadvertently discounted or un-anticipated: [i] the town is NDC, it is held. [ii] The economic hardship is loudest complaint and government blamed. [iii]It would be reasonable to feel ‘political enemy territory’ could deliberately manipulate the time.  Matters arising are: (a) was Afahye coincidental with the Komenda Sugar factory function; (b) did not state and the chiefs negotiate slating the invitation and if there was going to be a clash could not anyone else of rank have been delegated to stand in. [iv] weighing the two, surely the econo-politico dividends to scale up Komenda are certainly greater boon for a president battling a nationwide disenchantment whether the latter was logged in the presidential diary before or after affirming both. But while disappointment’s repair could be safely handled behind the scenes, against that are how done taken in the milieu of toxic atmosphere—politics, chiefs and people feeling snubbed per se, a bit exaggerated politically and not really insurmountable. 

However [v] the backdrop is both the press and president might not have reckoned with the silent stand-off between Cape Coast and Elmina.  This wouldn’t be unknown to the regional office to brief the presidency appropriately for sensitivity. The chief of Elmina was definitely not invited, unlike previously. A cursory ref to Monday (5 Sept. 2022) front and inside pages, is key– not as petty as could be thought in chieftaincy. Its repercussions go far and root deep. On top of all, chiefs in procession are not rushed—never right and could cause ire.It is possible that did. Another argument is the durbars of chiefs are used to sitting for long waiting for successive Heads of state here.  A little patience and a subtle quickened steps could have resolved the artificial impasse brewing. But we also confront here who waits between the tradition and the center, recognizing that Nananom own their territory. We have hitherto avoided the issue but its starring at us now.  There is no lack of wisdom in this country to settle this without rancor, re-doing our national constitution– now a must, despite very tough for traditional and constitutional purists.       

 In the colorfulness of Afahye were repugnant conducts of some girls and women with attires that appealed to male prurient instincts, very alien traditionally for the town.  That those badly dressed were not residents is not thoroughly accurate because it misrepresented and was unequivocally morally reprehensible.  Fashion was pushed to overstep the limits of decency. You needed more than lumps mental fortitude resist protesting openly.

It was clear that both traffic police and town and country planning lost control looking at unauthorized street blocks.  I am sure that there were enough alerts about locking out traffic flow to allow also some decent street carnivals.  But I thought the ugliness and close to rowdy with the car breaks-in were misnomers to engage serious concentration to pre-empt next year.  There are thieves and rascals everywhere; but these are not scabs that have wear very thin.   Oh! The LBGTQ+1 were show-offie as well.  What does parliament say?  Within the compass of the town contours there is a pressing need to put down the growing numbers of Kiosks.  The lesson of Accra doesn’t appear to be being learned; and I would have thought the recent flooding, the worst in history, might be unremembered as short ago as that.  Cape Coast people and place have the legendary longest memories than any in the country.

Otherwise, its Elmina in a league.  This is not surprising because both have histories, underplayed.  But their collective multi contributions to this country, are leaders; indeed, inclusive of the stalwarts and famous among the narrow strip of coastal line– Elmina to Winneba. Listing names would be more than deserved but would take more than the space I have here. Looking beyond the pomp I should as well look at the gains.  I believe taking things for free no longer in the world today.  These festivals have three basics: showcase peculiar past for learning; which is not grabbed because it is transitory.  For that reason literature must be available.  Secondly, that supports knowledge and research, equally sustained because of its value locally in terms our histories, especially at this time that we are frantic for restoration, notwithstanding others designs to twist parts for obvious divisive political purposes, failed to date.

Thirdly, these should earn good bucks for the traditional areas concerned—having made stayed off itchy fingers in the till. Small or big, each collection by indirect levying shall be both bonus and reduce two constant tendencies recited at every one of the festivals—(i) “abanmbo boa hen” [government should help us] for this and that. (ii) soliciting supports individually and traditional authorities.  I used to know a chief who went round to collect fixed rates from homes and enterprises, including stores at homes and traders in his jurisdiction.  Trouble was there were no receipts and no auditing.  Whispers suggests it continues, some with veiled compulsion. Chieftaincy and traditional councils would have to package the platforms for the good, augmenting their own development to stop the dependency syndrome which dates from colonialism but unpurged, 65 years after independence. What makes the chief(s) do that?

 We have all neglected them and abandoned our responsibility towards the sustenance of this noble heritage—traditional- ruler.  If the spontaneous enthusiasm of so-called Youth that or this –of men and women who belong or claim could be kindled to half-match the rush for red turbans to rough up persons perceived to have infringed a ‘don’t’, the penniless chief would cease his rounds.  The bad truth is some of the chiefs don’t do well or shake themselves. Afahye has ignited all these and couldn’t have come at a better time.

Show More
Back to top button