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Holding On To Winneba Aboakyer   
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James Kofi Annan
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Last week, in my article “Winneba Aboakyer festival on my mind”, I did mention that I was taking a break for this week, and the next couple of weeks. Somehow tradition has forced me out of my break, and here I find myself with this dry piece, the reading of which is not as exciting as you would expect from me.

Winneba United won its semi-final Aboakyer Cup football match against Windy Professionals. This is significant. Windy Professionals are a very experienced side. So for a very new team, Winneba United, to beat them two zero, is a lot to be celebrated. Apam Ahenfo FC won the first semi final Aboakyer Cup against Ithem FC from Saltpong.

With these results, the stage is set for an Aboakyer Cup grand final fit for the gods. So this Sunday all roads lead to the Winneba United Park, to climax the Aboakyer festival. It is estimated that over twenty thousand supporters will watch this match on the field, while ATV has promised to telecast the match live for those outside Winneba.

George Arthur and Larse Yamoah both of Winneba United, are the two idol players set to thrill the crowd, with their speed, skills, strength, and sheer pace. They are the deadly strikers and midfielders who have tormented defenders throughout the Aboakyer Cup, scoring some impossible goals in the last couple of months.

Today as this article hangs in the internet, Winneba is in frenzy spell. Visitors started arriving yesterday, and I saw the first Aboakyer 2016 visitor post this morning. In preparations for the festival, a lot of bypass lanes have been constructed to ease the associated vehicular traffic. Companies have began to mount their flags and roll ups along principal streets.

The ingenuity of the two Asafo groups have began to show, a signal that Aboakyer is here again. The usual traditional Asafo insinuative songs have started blaring in full competitive forms, and the women have began stocking rice for the preparation of their traditional Akosa (rice porridge), the festive food.

The people of Winneba are matrilineally inherited Guans who settled at their present location from Dwoma, otherwise known as Manford, in the Central Region of Ghana. Due to the threats of the Ashanti invasion, the first Asafo Group, Dentsefo, was formed in 1550, as a warrior group to protect the town against external aggression.

In the course of time, a second group, Tuafo, which was made up of all first male borns, was formed out of the Dentsefo group. The aim was to couch a more youthful vibrant energetic advance group which will lead in the course of war. Again because they were youthful, they were always the first group to arrive with a deer, when the Aboakyer festival was instituted. That is how they came to be known as Number One.

Dentsefo and Tuafo are the two most powerful groups on whose shoulders rest the Aboakyer festival. They determine the destiny of Winneba. They have not been too much affected by modernization of the festival, but still holds gargantuan appeal for fashion and design, of rhythm, grandeur, and of color.

Despite all modern hiplife, Azonto, and Reggae, the Asafo groups are the most watched and celebrated people during the festival. They are the reasons for the huge traffic between taxi rank and Copa junction. They refuse to smile, but in the process they make you smile; they create in their audience the joy and the pride of knowing them.

This year’s festival promises to be a testimony of believe, determination, and hard work. We are determined to prove to the world that Winneba has the capacity to create style. Winneba has the capacity to add color, and to incite goose pimples.

Culture and modernity have never found equal platforms. The modern forms of organization has always pirated and corrupted the authentic African culture. To have the Para Statal agencies, especially the army, in our modern governance system, is a mere pretentious transposition of our cultural constructs in a suffering world.

Our traditional forefathers thought about what we are struggling to know many centuries ago. They organized themselves into a governance structure perfect for their gods, and for self preservation.

In Winneba the Etrufohen (meaning the leader of the gun-wielding groups), which is now known as Tufohen, is the leader of the Asafo companies. He is what can be known today as the Chief of Defence Staff. He controls all the regiments and battalions. He decides the paths of wars, and strategies for attacks or retreat, and he is assisted by the leaders (Supifo) of the two Asafo companies, in the discharge of his duties.

Currently as the hunting draws close, the Asafo companies are purifying and washing their gods. The Tuafo groups are in possession of at least four deities, including Eku, Katawir, Akroma and Jemisie. The Dentsefo group is also in possession of at least five deities, including Efirm, Eskamba, Sekagya, Kofi, and Petu. These deities are believed to be the ones protecting the Effutu people. They are kept indoors throughout the year, until a day before the deer hunting expedition when one, from each of the groups, will be out-doored, and paraded through the town to perform specific functions.

As I have previously indicated, the Aboakyer festival is a competitive activity. The competition is between the Dentsefo and Tuafo Asafo companies, to determine who arrive first with a live deer. Due to this competition each Asafo company tries to weaken the winning chances of the opponent. They therefore plant deities against each other. They bury some of these deities around town, in the hopes that it will trap their opponent’s feet, and it will cast a spell that will delay a catch for them (the opponents).

The parading of the deities on Friday is to discover and dismantle all such deities in opposition planted against the Asafo companies. This is done in such rigorous spiritual intent, surrounded by crowds of supporting people, determined to root out any such opposing deity, and to send it back to senders.

The Dentsefo parades their most powerful deity, Eskamba, well and able to spot any danger, and able to transform such an opposing deity into a venom and a weapon against the sender. The Tuafo responds with the parading of their no-nonsense deity known as Jemisie. It not only weakens an opposing deity, but also able to cause temporary manhood impotency of all those involved in the planning and planting of such opposition.

So once again I’m inviting you to this year’s Aboakyer festival, especially this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Join us to parade the deities on Friday afternoon, and thereafter enjoy yourself all night long at any spot of your choice. Join us on Saturday dawn to the forest to hunt for the deer. Remember no one goes to the Aboakyer festival hunting with a gun or knives or cutlasses. We go with sticks, and we catch the deer live. We don’t kill it, and we don’t hunt any other animal. It is a taboo to catch any other animal in the Aboakyer forest, apart from the deer.

Then on Sunday we have the mother of all the events, the finals of the Aboakyer Cup at Winneba United Park, at Sankor. We will start the convoy right from Winneba Junction. There shall be several vehicles in the convoy, with personalities such as Kyeiwaa, Afia Edutwumwaa Mmrosa, Kofi Kum Bilson, Ayitey Powers, Ekouba Gyasi, Akwasi Aboagye, and many more, with live commentary heralding the Aboakyer Cup trophy. This will pull the crowd to the Winneba United Park where the two final teams, Winneba United and Apam Ahenfo, will decide who takes home the GHC2, 000 and the giant Aboakyer Cup trophy.

In between all these events, go out and have fun. Explore Winneba, University of Education, Winneba Secondary School (the best secondary school in Ghana), the Police Officers College, the Pan African University College, now known as Perez University, the Community Nurses Training College, try and look for the Anyensu Estuary and many more.

There are several hotels to choose from. Windy Lodge is the biggest hotel in Winneba, located just before the North Campus of the University of Education. It has several conference facilities, and is hugely affordable.
Apart from Windy Lodge, we have Naggy Hotel located just behind Windy Lodge, Windy Bay Guesthouse located behind Run-Off restaurant, Gloriaka hotel located just before the Winneba Junction, Manuel’s hostel located near Sir Charles Beach, and many smaller hotels. It is advisable to make reservation immediately if there are any rooms left.

But if there are no more rooms to reserve, there are more hotels in nearby towns which may still have space, including hotels in Agona Swedru (20 minutes drive), Apam (10 minutes drive), and Kasoa (30 minutes drive).
There are so many places to eat and to have fun. Run-Off restaurant is located just after you have negotiated the Winneba Junction. It is arguably the biggest open space restaurant in Winneba. They play live band every Friday and Saturday of the week throughout the year. This Aboakyer they are bringing on board several performing artists hosted by TOP FM.

Apart from Run-Off restaurant, there are several other restaurants all over Winneba, including The Stage, Level 3 (mobile spot), Kings and Queens, Class One B, Adom Spot, The Ambassadors, all located along the principal streets of Winneba.

Emergency centers abound in Winneba. In case of medical emergency, you may visit the Trauma Hospital which is located at Low Cost, between the University of Education North Campus and Winneba Junction. There is also the Klimovic Hospital located near Windy Lodge, Otoo Memorial Hospital located at Kojo Beedu, the Effutu Municipal Hospital located near the University of Education Central Campus, and the Baptist Hospital located near the Winneba United part in Sankor.

There is a Fire Service station at Winneba Junction, opposite Run-Off restaurant. Winneba police station is located at the heart of the town, near the Ebenezer Methodist Church. The usual national emergency numbers for the police 191, fire 192, Ambulance 193, also works in Winneba.

See you in Winneba this week.
Source: James Kofi Annan

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