Augustine Anyin-gabe Atano

 

The Duration of the Feok Festival

Authors of THE ROAD TO SANDEMA advocate the following plan of activities for the main Feok festival celebration:

1. The Feok festival, being the most popular festival in the Upper East region of Ghana, should at least be a week-long celebration.

2. The Feok festival celebrations should kickstart with sanitation and health activities such as general cleanup exercises and health screening/sensitization activities in all Buluk communities.

3. Historical sites should be highlighted and people’s attention drawn to them by setting a day aside for visits to various historical sites in Buluk on the second day. Storytelling can then be done in the evening.

4. Local music competitions can be organized among musicians from various communities on the third day of celebrations. This will help connect people to their roots and showcase the entertainment side of Buluk to visitors.

5. The fourth day should be set aside for the exhibition of local foods and drinks. Visitors will have a day to taste what Bulsa eat and drink. Creative works and art can also be displayed.

6. The fifth day should be a day to visit a project site funded by donations from the Feok celebrations from the past year.

7. The sixth day witnesses the war dance sessions from all communities, each presenting one set of war dancers on this day. This day also witnesses the climax of the Feok games, which should be played among communities.

8. The seventh day witnesses the grand durbar of chiefs and people of Buluk in full local attire. War dancing should be minimized on this day and only selected individuals from various communities [at most 3 war dancers] will come together to perform a single war dance session for guests to see.

Fundraising activities will take place on this day in support of identified needs of the various communities. The chief whose community is selected becomes the supervisor of the project in his community.

 

Comment by F. Kröger

Feok Festivals in the past have shown that the available time for all of the items planned in the programme is often scarce, and sometimes items have to be dropped completely. Therefore lengthening the duration of the festival is certainly worth discussion. Nevertheless, for many reasons I think that seven days would be too much.
There are not enough attractive items to fill the whole period of seven days (even if the football final and the beauty contest, which are not mentioned in the list, are included). Hours without any performances or official activities may be regarded as unwelcome lulls.
People coming from outside (e.g. Navrongo or Bolgatanga) and having planned a one-day visit may be at a loss to find the right day for their interests.
In my opinion an expansion to three or four days would be more reasonable, especially if the programme items are bundled in such a way that they are attractive for visitors with particular interests.
As suggested by A. Atano, ‟environmental cleanliness and health checks among the people are recommendable, and the day or days before the actual beginning of the Feok would be appropriate for this.

1) Day of competition:

The football final, the archery competition and the beauty contest may take place on this day. Further competitions (e.g. of singers, choirs, artists) may be added.

2) Day of traditional culture:
a) Potters, weavers/braiders, carvers, leather workers, etc. demonstrate their abilities by producing objects of traditional material culture. If the craftsmen and women are allowed to sell the objects produced on that day or before, their interest will be aroused and their participation during theses days without additional payment or compensation for their expenses will be more likely.
b) The exhibition of the BHCS objects may take place as in the years before.
c) Small exhibitions organized by certain institutions or schools may take place. Before these exhibitions, old photos of, for example, a school should be collected. I myself have quite a lot of photos from the time when I was teaching at the Sandema Boarding School in 1973/74. I even made a film.
d) Cooking traditional food may take place on this day to a lesser degree, but Durbar Day (later in the week) should be the day where food plays a more central role.

3) Day of Bulsa History: A guided tour should be offered to all interested guests (for a moderate price), e.g. to the caves of refuge in Wiaga, to Atuga’s bogluk in Kadema, to the Fiisa tanggbain with the spoils from the battles against Babatu, to the Gbedema Old Chief’s compound with its many traces of Tallensi influence. Visiting a large traditional compound may be included. The “historical” tour may be combined with visits to modern development projects. For the organisers of the Feok in Sandema, this may be a day of rest or an opportunity to prepare for the following days.

4) Durbar-Day: The Feok should have a climax, i.e. a day on which war dances and other kinds of dances are performed, a day to which celebrities should be invited, etc. On this day traditional food may also be offered. The evening might be used for modern dances and performances.

All proposals may be tested and altered accordingly. The number of festive days may be increased or decreased. As during a three or four-day festival, one day will necessarily be a Sandema market-day, it is worth considering how this day can appropriately be included into the programme.

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