Edited by Azizi Powell
This pancocojams post provides excerpts from four online articles about Ghana's Apoo Festival.
This post serves as background for and an introduction to two pancocojams posts that provide a small portion of anthropologist R. S. Rattray's chapter about the "Apo" festival that he experienced in April 1922 from his 1923 book Ashanti.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/03/a-partial-description-of-ghanas-apoo.html for Part I of that series.
Also, click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/03/apoo-insult-songs-from-r-s-rattrays.html for Part II of that series.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, and cultural purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
Note: The spelling “Ashanti" was used up until the late 20th century when it was changed to the spelling "Asante".
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT GHANA'S APOO FESTIVAL
These excerpts from online sources are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.
Note: Excerpts from online sources and (usually) hard to find books are reproduced in this blog in order to help preserve and disseminate that information and commentary. I encourage this blog's readers to visit those sites and, if possible, read that material in its entirety. Additions and corrections are welcome.
"Techiman is a town and is the capital of Techiman Municipal of the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Techiman is a leading market town in South Ghana. Techiman is together with Sunyani, one of the two major cities and settlements of Brong Ahafo region. Techiman has a settlement population of 104,212 people in 2013. Techiman is located at a historical crossroads of trade routes and the Tano River, and serves as capital of the Techiman Municipal District...
The Akans, according to their oral tradition, migrated from Techiman to found the coastal Mankessim Kingdom and present Central region in 1252. After Bono Manso, capital of the Bono state, was taken by the Ashanti Empire in 1723, then the Bono-Techiman state was founded in 1740 under Ashanti sovereignty.
Techiman has started the construction of a modern culture centre. The purpose of the centre is the preservation of the traditions of the Bono nation. Techiman celebrates the annual Apoo in April/May – a kind of Mardi Grass. Before 2009, the celebration of Apoo had been suspended for several years due to the decease of the Bonoman king. The climax of the Apoo is the durbar of the king (Omanhene) through Techiman.*  In August, an annual yam ceremony takes place and it marks the end of the yam production in the Brong-Ahafo Region towns of Techiman and Wenchi.
* Italics were added to highlight this sentence.
durbar = an official, public reception for royalty, governors, or their representatives
Here's information about the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana:
"The Brong-Ahafo Region is located in south Ghana. Brong-Ahafo is bordered to the north by the Black Volta River and to the east by the Lake Volta, and to the south by the Ashanti region, Eastern and Western regions, and to the west by the Ivory Coast southeastern border. The capital of Brong-Ahafo is Sunyani. Brong-Ahafo was created in 1958 from Bono state and named after the dominant and native inhabitants, Akans Brong and Ahafo.
Here's information about Akan people from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akan_people
"The Akan... are a meta-ethnicity predominantly speaking Central Tano languages and residing in the southern regions of the former Gold Coast region in what is today the nation of Ghana. Akans also make-up the majority of the populace in the Ivory Coast....
Akans are the largest group in both countries and have a population of roughly 20 million people. The Akan language (also known as Twi–Fante) is a group of dialects within the Central Tano branch of the Potou–Tano subfamily of the Niger–Congo family.
Subgroups of the Akan proper include:
Asante, Akuapem and Akyem (together known as Twi), Agona, Kwahu, Wassa, Fante (Fanti or Mfantse: Anomabo, Abura, Gomua) and Bono."
"Asantes" were called "Ashantis", but "Asantes" is now the correct term.
[added December 13, 2017]
"Bono" ("Abron") people are also known as "Brong".
Here's an excerpt from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bono_state
"Bonoman (Bono State) was a trading state created by the Abron (Brong) people. Bonoman was a medieval Akan kingdom in what is now Brong-Ahafo (named after the Abron (Brong) and Ahafo Akans) on the peninsula Ashantiland and eastern Ivory Coast. It is generally accepted as the origin of the subgroups of the Akan people who migrated out of the state at various times to create new Akan states in search of gold. The gold trade, which started to boom in Bonoman as early in the 12th century, was the genesis of Akan power and wealth in the region, beginning in the Middle Ages.
The origin of the Akan people of Bonoman was said to be further north in what is now called the Sahel or the then Ghana Empire when natives wanted to remain with their traditional form of Ashanti Ancestor worship religion and mythology spirituality, those Akans that disagreed with Islam, migrated south to the peninsula Ashantiland.
Fall of Bonoman
The fall of the various Abron states occurred during the rise of more powerful Akan nations, especially the dominant Ashanti Empire. Several factors weakened these states, including conflicts among the leadership, conflicts due to taxation, and no direct access to the coast of the peninsula Ashantiland, where trade was helping many Akan states have more influence. By the late 19th century, all of Bonoman became part of the Asante Empire."
-end of addition]
From http://www.ghanaculture.gov.gh/index1.php?linkid=65&archiveid=1829&page=1 TRADITIONAL FESTIVALS IN GHANA by GODWIN YIRENKYI, 28/11/2009
..."The celebration of traditional festival are happy occasions for locals and visitors alike and the good thing is that there many of them ; at least about 70 major ones, representing all the different ethnic groups of Ghana.
Meanwhile, it is possible, despite their diversities, to groups the many festivals into different categories such as harvest festivals, migration festivals, purification festivals and war festivals among the rest.
A study of the names, modes of celebration tells much about the origin and the interesting characteristics of Ghanaian festivals as well as their relevance.
In many parts of the world good harvests are a cause for celebration for which days of ceremonies and offerings of the first fruits are made to the ancestors and to the gods by way of saying thanks to the spirits.
Most common among the festivals are the harvest ones. In West Africa most of the harvest festivals usually start in August at the end of the rainy season after the harvest of the main staple crop of an area such as rice, yam, and millet as well as the start of the fishing and hunting seasons...
The next category of festivals is those that focus on religious purification, like the Apoo Festival of Techiman and other parts of Brong - Ahafo Region. An interesting aspect of the Apoo is how separate days are aside for the men and women to expose and ridicule wrongdoers in the society, high and low, through songs to shed their bad deeds in the out going year.”...
From http://samuuelduodu.blogspot.com/2009/04/techiman-to-celebrate-apoo-in-style.html TECHIMAN TO CELEBRATE 'APOO' IN STYLE (GRAPHIC NSEMPA, PAGE 15), By Samuel Duodu, Techiman. THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2009
“This year’s ‘Apoo’ festival of the chiefs and people of the Techiman Traditional Area in the Brong Ahafo Region would be used to initiate the construction of an ultra modern cultural centre to help protect, promote and preserve the cultural heritage and the identity of the people of the area.
The cultural centre, which would have a museum, theatre, conference room, artisans’ village, an auditorium, open space, internet café and administrative block and a restaurant would be undertaken by the Techiman Traditional Council in conjunction with the University of Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Michigan and the Michigan State University both in the United State of America (USA).
According to the Adontenhene of the Techiman Traditional Area, Nana Asare Twi Brempong II, who is also a member of the ‘Apoo’ Festival Planning Committee, the centre would be used for the preservation and conservation of the cultural heritage of Techiman.
He stated that the centre would also educate other residents of the traditional area who hail from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to educate them on the need to respect each other’s culture, and also help erase the negative perceptions that some people held about the culture of the area.
Nana Twi Brempong said this year’s ‘Apoo’ festival began on April 11, 2009, and it would end on May 11, 2009, on the theme “Our Culture, Our Heritage: the Tool for Social Integration” and the high point of the festival would be a colourful grand durbar of the chiefs and people of Techiman which would be held on May 1, 2009.
He explained that this year’s festival is being used to rally all citizens of Techiman both home and abroad for the development of the area, adding that the festival would also be marked with a Miss Apoo pageant
[information about the origin of Apoo given here]
During the period of “Apoo” it was agreed that one could not be held responsible for what he or she said.
The people would say “Mereko po me haw” which literally meant “I am going to say what was on my chest” and this was how the “Apoo” festival came into existence.
Nana Twi Brempong said the festival was not only about the people getting out what was on their chest about traditional authorities but also all who were in leadership positions in the traditional area at
He said the “Apoo” was also used to recognise those in society who had distinguished themselves or done something good for the society.
The Adontenhene said the “Apoo” is also used to promote social interaction as well as settle family disputes among citizens of the area. It is also it which citizens both home and abroad come together to undertake community projects. He said Nananom also pour libation during that period to ask for prosperity, peace and success.
Nana Twi Brempong said the significance of the festival among others are to measure the people in authority and also to enable them give account of their stewardship, protect and preserve their cultural identity as a people as well as promote the well being of the people. He said this year’s festival is focusing on things that would help fight poverty, illiteracy and ignorance in the society.
Nana Twi Brempong mentioned one of the highlights of the festival, which begins on April 11, 2009 as ‘Hyereko’ (Collection of white clay). This is when white clay collected from the Aponkosu River, is used to decorate the shrines in the traditional area, while the priests/priestesses also used the clay when they are possessed by spirits.”"...
"Akanfo (Akan people) in the Takyiman and Wankyi (Wenchi) areas of Ghana, West Afuraka/Afuraitkait (Africa) celebrate the festival called Apoo. This festival is also called Alie in the Sefwi area (including Sefwi Wenchi) of Ghana and is celebrated by the Akanfo of the Asona Abusua (Asona clan) in that region.
Apoo is from the root 'po' meaning 'to reject'. The Apoo Afahye (Apoo festival) is a 13-day observance which is dedicated to the ritual purging of spiritual, cultural and social ills in self and society. Apoo Afahye is dedicated to the eradication of disorder and its purveyors, human and non-human, physical and non-physical, individual and communal.
Aakhuamuman Amaruka Atifi Mu (Aakhuamu Nation in North America) observes Apoo Afahye for 13 days annually. Our observance is centered around fefewbere (spring). We take advantage of the shift in energy which occurs during what is called the vernal or spring equinox. Our Apoo Afahye in 13017 (2017) will occur during the gregorian calendar dates of March 12 through March 24.
Ritually, in Aakhuamuman Amaruka Atifi Mu, Apoo Afahye includes the execution of akraguare (odwaree no kra, 'soul-washing') for seven days leading up to the first day of fefewbere (spring equinox) followed by offerings to the Nananom Nsamanfo and to Asaase Afua and Asaase Yaa, the Two Earth Mother Abosom. Individual and communal purging/purification, inclusive of specific dietary observances (fasting, cleansing) and ABOA NKWA (Ritual Movement) are observed, which serve to recalibrate the oman (Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African) nation, community) that we may enter the second half of our year with a purified and unified focus having reaffirmed the seven root mbe which we seeded during our OBRA DWIRA observance at the beginning of the year. As the adennen, balance, of the body of Asaase Afua and Asaase Yaa is renewed, so do we renew the balance within our physical, spiritual and communal bodies during this time as Afurakanu/Afuraitkaitnut (Africans~Black People). It is also during this time near the equinox that we have our AKYISAN - Afurakani/Afuraitkaitnit (African) Ancestral Religious Reversion Conference.”...
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