🎵Akweley suma yee yeyee yeyee
Akworkor suma yee yeyee yeyee🎶
The above is the common song sung during the celebration of the Twins Festival(Haajia Yɛlɛ Yeli) by my people, the Ga-Danbge ethnic group of Ghana.
August is for Homowo 🥳🥳🥳🎉
And this is a happy period for Gas. Homowo marks the beginning of the Ga traditional calendar, so this is a period for chanting Afi oo Afi(happy new year 🥳).
The Twins festival or celebration is a part of the Homowo festival and is usually done the day before Homowo. It is tied in together with the eating of the new yam. So for specific duration of time before this day, twins are not supposed to eat yam.
The Ga-Danbges believe that twins are unique, their spirits are special and requires rituals to honour that specialness. Though the term twins is what is used, the celebration is for all more-than-one births, that’s triplets, quadruplets, etc. Single babies born immediately after twins (Tawiah and Ago) are also regarded as a part of the twins and may participate in this ceremony as well.
Yesterday was the twins festival celebrations in Jamestown and for the very first time I didn’t just watch it on TV, was there live and coloured🥳.
What I’m sharing here is from my observation and understanding of what transpired. Some may be speculative and far from the facts lol.
I went to Jamestown in the late afternoon when the street processions was expected to start but I observed that many houses seems to have had parties or feasts earlier in the day. Family members were gathered and fussing over the celebrants. I noticed a number of the celebrants having some kind of white paste on their faces, arms and legs.
Soon some families set out on their procession. Rituals are performed in the various family houses of the twins, and a mixture is made in a basin, which someone in the family will carry to lead the procession. The mixture contains water, particular leaves and herbs, yam, cassava, noticed fresh entrails of chicken, chicken feathers, eggs, and money. The content of all the basins were not exactly the same.
The procession is mainly for the purpose of carrying this mixture from the family house to a particular location where its contents is dumped. Those who carry the basin usually get possessed by spirits that were invoked while making the concoction. Not all who carry the basin necessarily get possessed and some who don’t even fake it, to add to the fun.
I do not know how the carrier of the basin is chosen but I noticed the carriers were of both genders and age varied greatly from children less than 10 to adults above 50. The majority of the carriers were of the youthful age group.
By this time the inhabitants of Jamestown, knowing the route for this procession had already lined up along the stretch. The people were all in very festive moods and excited for the processions to begin. I noticed a number of pregnant women in this line up.
Each family sets out into the street with someone in front with 2 bottles of alcohol in their hand. This person periodically pours the alcohol on the feet of the carrier, to appease the spirits of both the carrier and the spirit possessing them, especially at moments when they don’t seem to want to continue on their journey.
After this person is the one carrying the basin, most of them were already possessed before they stepped out of the houses. Because these persons are possessed, they seem to not be very conscious of their actions or movement. They were mostly stumbling around and grasped at the waist by two people to keep them from potentially hurting themselves.
I noticed that children carriers either didn’t seem possessed or that it was very subtle. They moved quite swiftly with little display or drama.
Carriers from 15 years and above, usually females seemed to have more intense spirit possession. I noticed some crying and wincing, and some even refusing at some point to continue. When this happens, the family and the person leading try their best to encourage the carrier to move along, it is important that the content of the basin is only dumped at the dumping grounds. Don’t know why exactly or the consequences otherwise. Some did give up on the way and poured the content on the streets.
This from my inner knowing is probably because the spirit of the person whose body is carrying the basin is getting overwhelmed by the spirit possessing their body and is resisting the possession.
The basin itself is not heavy, and the stretch they are going is maximum 20minutes walking distance from the farthest house. So they do not give up because of physical exhaustion.
After the carrier, is the celebrants. These are the twins, triplets, other siblings considered part of the twin set, etc. They are dressed beautifully, mostly in white. Some are carried on the shoulders of men, children and adults alike.
Children celebrants though likely do not understand fully what exactly the tradition was about or the significance of it, were very much aware they were the center of attention for the day and happily enjoyed that.
I noticed something I’d observed about my people before again in the dressing of the celebrants.
I think Gas are the most progressive ethnic group in Ghana lol. They are not attached too much to old things, especially the irrelevant once and are happy about change and quick to embrace new things.
For a very traditional and spiritual celebration such as this, well it wasn’t so surprising but still interesting to see the celebrants dressed in modern wear and style. Many of the kids had colorful dyed hair, yellow, red, green(something lots Ghanaians frown upon even in adults). Many more were wearing wigs. Very few of the celebrants were dressed in a traditional fashion.
Whereas this more modern wear than traditional is not something I’m particularly excited about(especially the wigs), it’s still interesting to note how that was of little significance to the tradition and the joy it brings the people.
To them it was more like a carnival, wear something to stand out, have fun, do you, than this is how it was done. Times back, there was specific style of dressing for the celebrants; topless and a strap of particular fabric and color to cover your pubic region.
This time, it’s whatever you want.
After the main celebrants are family members singing and chanting. This is to make the procession fun and attractive to watchers and participants alike.
As they proceed, I noticed many times the carriers heading for someone, then the person had to tap the basin with their hands three times before the carrier moves on. Those they approach appears randomly chosen and I think it’s more like the spirit possessing the body saying hello to someone they know that they’ve seen. The carriers will keep following anyone they are drawn to till the person taps the basin, whether said person is afraid or not. If they run, they chase them.
I noticed in one carrier in particular that it seemed she wanted to hand over the basin to the person she approached. This carrier was crying and seems to be struggling with whatever was happening to her. But as the other person taps the basin 3 times she moves away. So maybe tapping three times is to prevent them passing it to you🤷🏿♀️.
I saw some people also drop money into the basins as they move past them.
Sometimes a carrier may rush to someone and pour the contents of the basin on them. I didn’t see this yesterday but I’ve seen it before in another celebration years ago. When this happens, it’s possible the one that got drenched also gets possessed.
Also, people on the streets watching also just sometimes out of nowhere get possessed. Saw this happen yesterday to a young girl near me.
Sometimes people that get randomly possessed during such activities get awoken to a part of themselves that they were not aware of, and get trained to become priestesses or priests.
Sometimes too it’s just a one time thing, they will remain possessed for a while, a hour or 2 maybe, and then it’s gone. It doesn’t change their spiritual views or activities in anyway, I know someone like that.
Some people avoid attending these celebrations so as not to risk getting possessed and others attend with the hope that they do.
Whereas many christians do not engage in these celebrations, some do. Those who do argue that it’s tradition, not religion, and so they are keeping with their tradition and not engaging in paganism, which is what they will be doing if it was a religious activity. To them as long as they are not everyday pouring libation to some god, they see no wrong in celebrating along with everyone. Also some believe if the rituals are not done for the twins, disaster will befall them or their parents, and so they do it to avoid such disasters.
Interestingly some of the groups in the procession were singing or playing christian songs as they matched towards the dumping grounds.
At the dumping ground, the carrier throws the basin down. I noticed one family ensure the basin is covering the content fully by stepping on it, and then poured libation. The carrier puts the now empty basin back on their head and the group proceeds back. Usually the carriers become a lot more calmer after emptying the basin.
Immediately the group departs, children rush to the pile and shuffle through for monies.
Since the various families step out at different times, this goes on for hours along the route being used. With one family heading to the dump site and another returning from there.
I could hear many women calling out in prayers to be blessed with twins and good husbands.
Along the twin processions were many other groups too. There were different groups of young men doing their own thing. They carry various objects and pretended to be possessed as well. Many of them were either drunk or high on some substance and so this was not hard at all, moving without a sense of direction that is😂.
There were lots of other attractions as well.
The crowd that was present was just insane and the beautiful thing is that about 90% of them are inhabitants of the community. That’s how much enthusiasm the people there have for the festival.
Personally I feed of energies of excited huge crowds. It’s raises my own energy level and gets me in a super excited mood, a lot more so than my usual self.
I enjoy seeing people together and having fun simply for fun sake. It’s just beautiful. And it feels my heart with joy whenever I see that.
This has been a long one and with more videos than pictures. If you made it this far, thank you😁, ashé🙏🏿.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Love, peace and joy always.❤️✌🏿😁🤩🥰😍🥳