Asogli Yam Festival: Celebrating heritage and harvest in Volta Region

Asogli Yam Festival

Stories and facts

The Asogli Yam Festival is an annual event celebrated by the people of Asogli in the Ho Municipality, located in the Volta Region of Ghana.

Taking place every September, the festival marks the cultivation of yam, a practice initiated by a hunter who discovered the tuber in the forest during one of his hunting expeditions.

Historical accounts suggest that yam cultivation among the Asogli people began when the yam, hidden by the hunter during his expedition, later germinated and grew larger.

This tradition was brought into Ghana by the Ewe people during their migration from Notse in the Republic of Togo, where the festival is still celebrated today.

In 2004, Togbe Aƒede XIV revitalized the Yam Festival after it had been abandoned for over a decade. His aim was to educate and entertain both Ghanaians and visitors about Asogli traditions.

The festival now includes traditional music, dance, storytelling, and a grand durbar, providing a rich cultural experience.

Under Togbe Aƒede XIV's leadership, the festival has also fostered unity among many chiefs throughout the Volta Region, extending to other parts of Ghana and Togo. Consequently, the festival sees participation from numerous chiefs each year.

On May 8, 2018, the Asogli state announced in a press conference held in Ho that the festival's name would be changed to Te Za (Yam Festival) to better reflect the history and culture of the people.

Yam, known as “te” in Ewe, literally means "it is swollen." Oral history recounts that a hunter, during a famine, discovered the crop in the forest. Instead of taking the tuber home, he hid it in the soil for future use. When he later returned, the tuber had germinated and grown larger, marking the beginning of yam cultivation.

The celebration of the Yam Festival by the Ewe people was passed down from Notse in the Republic of Togo. Yam cultivation was historically a labor-intensive and hazardous job, often claiming the lives of those who undertook it.

Hence, the proverb “Ne wonye eteti tsogbe wo dua ete la, ne egbor ma kpor etsroa ha du o” which means, "if it were during the day of planting that yam is eaten, the goat would never taste the peel." This underscores the diligence required and the necessity of seeking the permission and guidance of the gods and ancestors throughout the entire cultivation process, from planting to harvesting.

During the harvest period in September, the first servings of boiled and mashed yam, typically prepared with white and red oil and called “bakabake,” are offered to the gods and ancestors in a rite known as "Dzawuwu." Only after this ritual do the living partake in the communal meal, symbolizing unity and reconciliation among families, clans, and the entire community.

The festival serves multiple objectives: it is a thanksgiving to God and the ancestors for a bountiful harvest and an occasion to pray for good health and prosperity.

It fosters unity through forgiveness and reconciliation, serves as an annual stocktaking event for all occupational endeavors, especially farming, and mobilizes both human and material resources for job and wealth creation in the Asogli State. Additionally, it reaffirms the allegiance of all chiefs and their subjects to the Agbogbome stool.

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