By Afia Nyarko Asare
2019’s Hogbetsotso festival promises to be extraordinary and historic because, it happens to be the first festival after the unison of the Awomefia of Anlo State, Torgbe Sri III and the paramount chief of Asogli State, Agbogbomefia Torgbe Afede XIV after decades of dispute.
As the adage goes “Unity is Strength” and this is depicted by the broom. It is very easy to break a broom stick but impossible to break the whole bunch. Therefore, the unison of these great traditional leaders of the Ewe land signifies the break of a new dawn in terms of development in every aspect of life.
The 2018 edition of the Hogbetsotso festival was remarkable for many reasons including the presence of most national and international dignitaries.
Anloga, the traditional and ritual capital of the Anlo people was euphoric with a colorful grand durbar of traditional leaders, priests, priestesses, folks from the diaspora, and political dignitaries who converged to support the People of Anglo mark the historic Hogbetsotso festival last year.
The festival was graced by four flagbearer aspirants of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and other former ministers of the party. The aspirants include the former President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for Nadowli/Kaleo, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah and Slyvester Mensah CEO of the National Health Insurance Authority.
Hogbetsotso Festival is fêted by the Anlo people in the Volta Region. It is marked on the first Saturday in the month of November at Anloga, the traditional and ritual capital of the Anglo state and it demonstrates memories of the legendary exodus and heroic acts of brave men and their mystical powers that liberated the Ewe-Dogbo folks from the rule of autocratic King, Torgbui Agorkorli of Nortsie in Togo.‘HOGBETSOTSO’ is imitative of the word HOGBE’ meaning the day of exodus of the Ewes in the Dogbo quarter of the walled city of Nortsie in Togo.
Historian’s purports, the Anlo people are traced traditionally to Oyo in Western Nigeria from where they migrated to their present country in the seventeenth century. This is evident in the cultural traits of the Yoruba people that can be traced among the Ewes of Anlo for instance the musical forms like the Ganu (Anago) dance. Ancestral worship, the worship of deities and divination (EFA KAKA), an art perfected by the Ewes while in Nigeria.
Other traditions among the Anlo people are TRONUAWO – priest-kings and TROXOVIWO – vestal virgin shrines.
However, some Anlo historians denote Egypt as their fatherland and sons of ADZA (Ham). The Kingdom of Anlo is one of the largest of the Ewe coastal tribes in Ghana. The Anlo state is made up of about thirty-six major states including Abor, Anyako, Keta, Weta, Afife, Flawu, zelukorfe, Avenor, Dzodze, Atorkor Asadame Woe, Vodza, Srorgboe, Kedzi, Tsiame, Atiavi, and Alakple. Others are Fiaxor, Dzita, Tegbi, Vodza, Anlo Afiadenyigba, Fenyi, Bleamezado, Hatorgodo, Atito, Sasinyeme, Anyanui, Tregui, Abor, Weta, Evui, Ave-Afiadenyigba and Aborlorve. At Nortsie, the people celebrated hunters and natural leaders with mystical powers such as Kugboaka, Tegli, Gemedzra, Setsi, Amega Wenya, Torgbui Takla, Kponoe Sri I, Adela Adzoma, and Tsali Akplomada who played various roles to set the stage for the miraculous escape from the walled city of Nortsie.
The inhabitants of the Nortsie enjoyed relative peace under various rulers until Torgbui Agorkorli emerged on the scene. He used forced labour from the Ewe-Dogbo people to build a wall around his city which measured 24 feet tall and 18 feet wide, wide enough to allow for patrols with horses. Some historians have agreed that the walls were to prevent slave raiders from attacking the residents in the royal city. Others believe it was prison that they were serving under the king.
This year’s event was very remarkable and goes down to history because it united the paramount chief of Asogli state, Agbogbomefia Torgbe Afede XIV and the Awoamefia of Anlo State Torgbe Sri III as the former has made a royal visit for the festival (Hogbetsotso) and to interact with the chiefs and of people of Anlo.
Torgbe Sri III, welcomed His Royal Highness Torgbe Afede and was anticipative, it is the beginning of a new dawn. He stated that the theme for the festival, “Shoring-UP our cultural capital: Uniting in Commonwealth and Resolve’ is a timely reflection of what the people of the region have been demanding.
Torgbe Afede XIV in his dialogue point out that his visit to the Anlo State is analytic of resolution of differences of the chiefs and people and called for unity. “This festival celebration should teach us to love one another and also take away selfish tendencies among the good people of the land”.
Thrilled by the historic visit of the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli state, Torgbe Sri III narrated how the Ewes migrated to Notsie before migrating to their present settlements.
“I’m very excited to have been here to vividly remember how our forefathers migrated to our present place of habitat. The Hogbetsotso festival is celebrated to foster unity and everyone is involved. Our main preoccupation is to be thinking of how we progress steadily as a people with one destiny. This celebration is to enable us to build the Anlo state and this gathering here today shows how formidable we are to restore the lost hope”, he recounted.
Guests at the durbar ground were treated to various cultural display from different cultural troops from Anlo land. It was indeed a constellation and exhibition of the beautiful Anlo cultural heritage.
Therefore, come November 2, 2019, which happens to be the first Saturday in the month of November. The great Anlo land will be ecstatic with traditional activities that will be crowned with a grand durbar of chiefs, tourists, government representatives, diplomats and other dignitaries to mark this significant event.