On the weekend, we heard there was a festival a few hours away, to the south, near the ocean. Given the theme of our trip, Celebrations and Traditions, we packed our things and headed south for the day to the Hogebetsoto Festival. It was the 50th anniversary of the festival which is unique to the Volta Region. It celebrates the journey from present-day Togo to Ghana, honors the ancestors, gives thanks for the sustenance provided by fishing, and in general celebrates the people of the Volta region. When we arrived there were already hundreds of people packed in at least ten rows deep around a large central arena. The festival started with the procession and honoring of the Volta Chiefs and Queens. They were all elaborated and colorfully dressed in their local Ghanaian outfits and many were wearing crowns or festive hats. The procession was accompanied by drumming and followed by a traditional Ghanaian dance with even more drumming. The festival continued with speeches from dignitaries, include the Vice President of Ghana, and lots more singing and dancing. There were some intermediary acts including what we would call clowns—but they were dressed very differently than our clowns—and a man who was able to spin four large bowls with his hands and feet.
In the center of the arena, there were photographers taking video and pictures of the performers and speakers. Angela decided that we were photographers too and so we should venture to the center of the ring with them. And so we boldly did. Thanks Angela! As a result, we have some great video and close up photos of a Ghanaian festival to share with you when we return home. Outside the arena people were selling local foods such as corn, coconuts, yams, eggs, and more. Overall, it was a very festive—and very hot day. Afterwards we headed to the ocean to dip our feet in the cool water and get a cold drink before returning to Ho. What serendipity what such a large festival would be happening while we were here, sharing and teaching about such traditions!