The Hogbetsotso is an indigenous festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Anlo in Ghana’s Volta region, located in the southernmost part of the Ewe land.
Thirty-six states come together to celebrate this historical festival. Anloga, Keta, Kedzi, Vodza, Agbozume, Whuti, Srogboe, Tegbi, Dzita, Abor, Afiadenyigba, Anyako, Konu, Alakple, Atsito, Atiavi, Deegodo, Atorkor, Adina, Tsiame, and many other villages are among the 36 Anlo states that celebrate Hogbetsotso.
The festival is held annually on the first Saturday of November in Anloga, the customary and ritual capital of the Anlo state to commemorate the fourteenth-century escape from Notsie to current Eweland.
This year the event brought together a large number of Anlo natives from both home and abroad to commemorate a momentous occasion in Ewe history.
Before the durbar, various rites such as ‘nugbuidodo’ (reconciliation), cleaning, walking through town among others were performed.
On the day of the durbar, a grand procession of Chiefs pays homage to the Awormefia, Torgbui Sri II (Paramount Chief) of the Anlo State.
During this year’s Hogbetsotsoza, Former President John Dramani Mahama, Hon. Samuel Ablakwa Okudzeto, Vice President Bawumia and Asantehene and his entourage graced the occasion.
The festival’s name is derived from the Ewe language and translates as “exodus festival” or “coming from Hogbe (Notsie).”
Some dignitaries at this year’s Hogbetsotsoza
Some activities in pictures
Who are the Anlos?
The Anlo’s are a tribe on Ghana’s eastern coast. They lived in Notsie, a town in modern-day Togo, before settling in their current location.
It is believed that they migrated from southern Sudan to Notsie through the Oyo area of Nigeria, Ketou in Benin, and Adja Tado in Togo.
According to oral tradition, they lived under a wicked king, Togbe Agorkoli and to escape his tyrannical rule, they had to cut a hole in the mud wall that surrounded their town. They accomplished this by instructing the women to pour all of their wastewater into a single location on the wall.
The spot softened over time, allowing the townspeople to break through the wall and flee by walking backwards facing town so they don’t leave a trail.
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Series of cultural and traditional ceremonies are held throughout the festival.
‘Nugbuidodo’ which literally means a period of reconciliation is one of the main rites that are performed to resolve all disagreements before main the durbar.
It is also believed; this traditional period of reconciliation is to pay homage to the ancestors as they have helped their generations live in harmony since their escape from Notsie.
The ancestral stools are also purified through the pouring of libations which is followed by a general cleaning in which all villages are swept and kept tidy.
This cleaning ceremony begins at the Volta River and ends several days later at the Mono River in the Republic of the Congo.
The festival climates it’s activities with a durbar of Anlo’s Chiefs, it’s people and dignitaries from in and around Africa.
The Chiefs wear colourful their colorful ‘Kete’s’ and all white to receive homage from their subjects and other dignitaries at the durbar grounds.
The entire festival is marked by various forms of dancing, singing, and merry-making. The most common dances are the Agbadza, Borborbor among others.
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