Bongo Azambene Festival is a grand traditional festival celebrated annually by chiefs and people of the Bongo Traditional area to commemorate the victory, inheritance, and creation of the present Bongo from the Busasis, the original owners of the land.
The festival is currently the aegis of the Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, Bonaba, Baba Salifu Atamale Lemyaarum who has control over 40 sub-chiefs and divisional chiefs.
The celebrations of the festival took a long hiatus until the Baba Salifu Atamale Lemyaarum sought the need to revive the celebration which is marking its 13th anniversary in 2021.
Bongo Azambene Festival History
The Azambene festival chronicles the origin of Bongo as a community as well as the triumphant battle fought by their ancestors Awubgo and Asikulka to take the land away from its first occupants, (the busaasi).
Tracking about 300 earlier, the current inhabitants of the Bongo land were living in Mampurugu in the Northern region of Ghana. Awubgo who was a hunter, inquired from the Nayiri after he discovered the land.
Awubgo was bent on taking over the land from the Busaasis who were visibly not hospitable, at least, from his little interaction with them.
With the support of the Nayiri, Awubgo engaged the services of Issah, who was one of the chief’s sons to help him fight the Busaasis. In guiding them to success, the chief apprised them not to enter the town during the day, but nightfall.
The chief asked Awubgo and Issah to make bundles of dry grass and tie them in the form of circles and wait for midnight so that they hung the bundles of grass on trees at advantage points, light them up with fire, and fire gunshots.
Awubgo and Issah performed the chief’s good counsel which demonstrated to be one of the most peaceful conquer-fight. Not a single blood was shed and without struggle.
Achieving supremacy, Awubgo, and Issah used the fire to celebrate their faultless, effortless conquest over the Busaasis.
While on their way back, Awubgo and Issah saw a harmless ‘Bohungo’, to wit, a python. Awubgo chose to name the place (Bohungo) which has morphed to become Bongo.
With the battle won, Awubgo rejected the chief’s proposition to make him chief of Bohungo, and instead proposed Issah. After deliberations, Issah was made chief and his name changed thereafter, to Asikulka.
Bongo Azambene Festival Date
The Bongo Azambene Festival is celebrated in the month of August and October each year. The date usually falls between late August or early October.
Bongo Azambene Festival Celebrations
The Bongo Azambene Festival celebrations happen in two days. The Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area fires a gun shot in the night then the people light up the fire and go out chanting ‘heeehe aditige’.
The fire signifies what Awubgo did to secure the victory.
The people move around with the fire and play with it after which is thrown into a river. To signify purity, the people return home to wash their hands and feet.
Dancing, eating, and merry-making continue the following day after the performance of sacrifices.
A durbar of chiefs and other dignitaries follows where the Paramount Chief addresses his subjects at the Bongo Azambene Festival.
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