BACKGROUND OF ASAFOTUFIAMI FESTIVAL
All traditional area as in Ghana are identified with special festivals which make the people vary distinctly from other areas. The Asafotufiami Festival of the people of Ada Traditional Area in the Dangme East District of the Greater Accra Region is a rich cultural heritage celebrated annually around the first week of August. The celebration of the festival is in remembrance of the achievements in the war for settlements fought by our ancestors, hence the name
"ASAFOTUFIAMI" as the name implies, is company firing of musketry. This is the festival of the people of Ada in the olden days which for unknown reasons was discontinued for many years. In the olden days, the Ada state was made up of the following states with their Divisional Chiefs supporting the Ada Mantse as the Paramount Chief and the various Clans at Big-Ada. "Agave, Sokpoe, Tefle, Mepe, Mafi, Bakpa, Battor" with the secession of these Divisional Chiefs to form what is now known as the Tongu State, the new post of Wetsoyi (Divisional Chiefs) has been created in addition to the following State Clans of Ada, which formerly, were under their respective Wornorhi and Asafoatseme. Since 1954, the following ten (10) clans have had Wetsoyihi (Divisional Chiefs) to support the paramount stool of Ada.
To encourage sons and daughters domiciled in other towns of the country to return home and help the elders in the development of the Ada State as a whole and the towns and villages in particular. The Ada Pastors and Teachers Association (APTA) joined with the Ada National Improvement Association (AN1A) to approach the Chiefs and Elders of the state to have the "Asafotu" Festival revived.
The approach made received the overwhelming support of the Chiefs and the Eiders of the Ada state hence the revival of the ancient "Asafotu" Festival which again started in 1937. There are two (2) Asafo (companies) within the Ada State viz: Akomfode and Asorkor, membership of which according to tradition is by matrilineal linage.
For this reason, children of the same father and different mothers at times find themselves in the opposite company (Asafo) and this confirms the appellation of the people of Ada as "Nyeko Bi, Tseko Bi". According to tradition, the celebration starts from Thursday in the 1st week of August with the arrival of sons and daughters, well wishers and guest(s) from other places to the town. The Thursday is devoted for house cleaning ceremony and pouring of libation at the respective shrines of the various families and keeping of vigil.
At dawn on Friday, as part of the schedule for the celebration, the two companies (Asafo) beat their respective drums to summon their members for the onward march to LUHUESE on the outskirts of Big-Ada where they are compelled and according to ancient custom, all young men who attain the puberty age were then initiated into their respective Asafo companies by taught how to handle, load a gun and fire same for the first time.
This is followed by war formation and the initiates being taught the ancient tactics of warfare. This continues until late afternoon when they will return to the Big-Ada town dressed in traditional military attire and clad with leaves and palm branches signifying conquering heroes returning from the war fronts amid tiring of musketry and war cries.
Awe-e-e-e - Agba e, Bleku Tso - Nsu, O, Nsu - Enam O, Enam Enam O, Enam
Manye O, Manye - Adubani Kpotoo
Singing, fuing of musketry and dancing continue here until sunset when the procession continues to Kpomkpo Panya where the Asafo companies form a single file along the riverside and tire three consecutive volleys into the river, dip their feet into it and wash their hands to indicate the carrying away of ail evil an- bad omens of the years and looking forward to all the good in store for the years ahead. All the followers of the Asafo companies follow the custom of feet dipping and hand washing ceremony. The procession then disperses and everyone retires home with songs of jubilation continuing until late in the night.
The new initiated young men followed by their friends proceed to houses of their in-laws and pay homage by firing musketry thrice acknowledged by cheers and congratulations of inmates. Drinks and other presentation are made available by the in-laws and the household. The following Saturday is noted for durbar of the Paramount Chief, Divisional Chiefs and Asafoatseme carried in their palanquins through the town to the Big-Ada Presbyterian Junior Secondary School Park where the elders, men, women and children gaily dress and assemble to receive them.
Ada Youth Groups and other benevolent Societies established in certain towns of the country also in their respective uniforms of identity parade through the street of Big Ada to the durbar grounds where they march past and their positions for the Saturday and Sunday functions with their patriotic and melodious songs to grace the occasion. After the Paramount Chief have greeted the Divisional Chief s, Asafoatseme and Eiders and the People, he sits -in state to receive in return, Greetings and homage of his people and swearing of Allegiance by the Asafoatseme at which each swearing is sealed with volleys of musketry by the divisions.
The Military Organization of Ada:
- Adibiawe (Hlam T)
- Korgbor (Dzase-Hem)
- Lomobiawe (Hlam Ta)
- Kudzragbe Dzase se (Atufo)
- Tekpebiawe (Hlam Ta)
- Dangmebiawe (Se Ta)
- Ohuewem (Kpeti Ta)
The following ancient wars in which the Adas were engaged feature in the oaths of allegiance sworn by the Asafoatseme to the Paramount Chief. Ada-Anlo War, battle of Nonobi, Adas supported by Akwapim, Akim Abuakwa, Krobo and Agave defeated Anlo, Ada defeated Anlo, Unsuccessful invasion of Anlo by Ada, Akim Abuakwa, Akwapim, Krobo and part of Mefi while Akwamu supported Anlo. Ada attacked by Anlo and burning of Ada Township. Kantamanso War near Dodowa against the Ashantis which sir Charles McCarthy died and the Ashantis were defeated. Kantamanso War near Dodowa gainst the Ashantis in which Sir Charles McCarthy died and the Ashantis were defeated. Glover War Capt. Glover invaded Anlo with forces drawn from Ga, Ada, Krobo, Krepi Akwapim, while Anlo, supported by Avonos and Mafi, were defeated at battles near Adidome, Aveno and Wheta.
After close of the function for the day, the Paramount Chief, Divisional Chiefs, Asafoatseme, Elders and the people, return home accompanied by the Youth Association and the benevolent societies with songs, drumming and jubilation. Cinema shows, and Grand State Dance in the evening till day break of Sunday when a non-denominational open air Church Service is held at the same venue of the Durbar to give praise and thanks to the Almighty God for his abundant blessing for the success of the festival. The following week day, Monday – Thursday are occupied with Boat Racing, Tug of War, Get-together for the aged, River excursion, Football matches and greeting of individuals and bidding good bye to each other with happy memories of the year.
The Settlement of the Adas
The Adas at their present abode came as a result of a migration of an ethnic group of people believed to be part of the great African Negro race from the Western Sudan. They comprised the Ada, and others known today as the Krobos, Osudokus, Shais, Kpones, Prampram and Ningos, all formed the great ethnic group of "Dangme". From "Seme" they came to Oyo and then to Abeokuta, then to Dahomey, now Benin. In Dahomey, the Adas were forced by hostilities in that land from establishing an exclusive settle, so they merged with the Ewes from Ketu. Then with the Ewes they traveled to a place called Tado and accompanied them again up to Ngotsie in Togo. It was at Ngotsie that King Agorkoli appellated the Adas as "ADAWOLAWO" meaning, a wild, furious, brave and warlike people who are easily provoked. Aname which has remained as characteristics of the Adas as atribe.
The part of the Adas that were among this great migration were the four (4) Okor Clan led by a priest King known as Adi. These Clans are Adibiawe, Lomobiawe, Tekperbiawe and Dangmebiawe. They together with Krobos, Osudokus and the Shais travelled by the over land route and crossed the Volta River at several points at such as Aprade, Fodjoku near Akuse, Dorfor, Asutsuare and Vume. The four (4) Okor tribes have a common taboo. The priests established a theocratic political institution which forbade them from seeing human blood. However, to sanctify the priesthood they must be circumcised. The crossing of the river at Asutsure was said to have come about as a result of a mystic, Tsa Avegbe, who said to have jumped into the Volta River and emerged as a crocodile, with as wide as an Odum board and spread across the Volta River for the crossing. Adi and followers were the first to cross. Lomo and Lomobiawe who crossed second followed by Terkperbiawe. Dangmebiawe who crossed last as the gate sealers or rearguard, was led by Okumo. They were followed by the other Dangme groups.
After crossing, all the Dangme tribes settled at Togologo now cal 1 ed Lolorvor who crossed last as the gate sealers or rearguard, was led by Okumo. They were followed by the other Dangme groups. After crossing, all the Dangme tribes settled at Togologo now cal 1 ed Lolorvor which isnow known as Accra plains, for many years. Later events at Lolorvor served as their confederacy. It was said that, there arose a misunderstanding between them and the Manya leaders. The other members of the group fried to persuade Adi to bury the difference but the Adas told the Krobos in the Ewe language that "Lolorvor", which means the cord binding us together, is broken or served; there is no more love to unite us. This saw the Krobos heading to the Shai hills, leaving the Adas (Okor Clan) behind on the Accra Plains at Lolorvor near the present day Afienya hi 1 Is.
The Akan war raids, especially by the Ashantis forced the search for place of safety. A survey team of famed hunters drawn from the four (4) clans set from "Lolorvor" to explore new lands for settlements. It was said that Adibiawe group also gave one hunter named Buete Kpakpaku Lomobiawe also gave hunter Lomo. The Tekperbiawe group also gave one named Korley Dangmebiawe-Okumo. Their exploration took them as far as to the Sege forest and the stream. At this place, Korley climbed a tree and surveyed all the land beyond and beheld a white sheet of land in the distance and all the four (4) famed hunters moved out to see what it was. Adi took the lead followed by Lomo, followed by Korley with Okomo at the rear.
This brought about the discovery of Songor Salt Lagoon. It was that, Adi and Lomo went by the North of the lagoon and came as far as Togbloku. Korley and Okumo also took to the south and came across the Okor forest by the sea where they walked up to the Volta estuary, near the present day Lolonyakope. It was alleged that one day, Korley went out on a hunting expedition and reached as far as Wokumagbe near Ningo. There he shot at and wounded a beast but it ran away. Korley decided to follow the foot print of the beast until he reached a thick forest. In pursuit of the beast into the forest, he discovered a secret hamlet and met an old lady in it. The old lady was seated on a stool, adored with gold. Around her, Korley saw crowd human beings which to him, were apparitions and turned to retrace his steps to give up the pursuit of the wounded beast.
The crowd instantly beckoned him to return, begging him not to run away. Korley was said to have mastered courage and moved towards them. He was asked what he wanted. He told the crowd that he was a hunter who was in pursuit of the wounded beast and fell upon them in error. Korley was then told by the old lady that she was the beast he shot and wounded and that she charmed him to follow her to her secret hide out. She then asked Korley where he came from and he pointed out the direction of Afienya hills at Lolorvor. At this juncture, the old lady disclosed her ownership of the Songor salt lagoon to him. She told Korley that if he could faithfully observe the taboos and the preclusion on the usage of the lagoon, and be faithful to his oath of fidelity to her, she will turn over the ownership of the Songor Lagoon to him.
In effect, the old lady listed the hidden wealth in the Songor Lagoon as SALT & GOLD underneath the rock bed. The old lady ask Korley to assure her that when she gives the ownership of the Songor Lagoon, neither he nor his, children after him, shall ever use GOLD as an Ornament.