To this day, I’m not entirely sure what exactly I had the privilege of attending. The Dodowa Festival took place in the eponymous rural town where I was living during my semester abroad in the Fall of 2011. My two classmates and I showed up to one of the local schools’ soccer fields to find it filled with excitable children and men and women dressed extravagantly in their most beautiful traditional wear, complete with scepters and sometimes even crowns. There were dancers and drummers and impromptu conga lines that we three girls were inevitably pulled into, our initial hesitation quickly forgotten as we were swept up in the contagious festivities.
These imposing matriarchs watched over the events with a dignified and somber air, but eventually joined in the dancing themselves.
Gorgeous African fabrics always brighten up any situation.
Vendors were selling all sorts of sweet treats, delighting children and soothing parched throats on this hot sunny day.
People were wearing matching costumes, while children donned their heads with paper hats adorned with printouts of their favorite Ghanaian football player. The atmosphere was quivering with irresistible ebullient energy. I didn’t know what we were celebrating, but I sure as hell was going to celebrate with them.
Everyone was wearing outfits cut out of the same cloth. I think it is the official pattern of Dodowa or something.
A happy spectator.
Sometimes you just have to take that important business call even if it’s the day of the Dodowa Festival, you’re wearing a special outfit and you’re 12 years old.
It started raining, but it did nothing to dampen spirits. If anything, the refreshing drops were welcomed.
A drummer wearing makeup to look like an old man. I have no idea why.
He’s sexy and he knows it.
At one point a handsome man who I could only assume was the King of Dodowa was hoisted up in a litter carried on the shoulders of several men. From underneath the large, ornamented and unnecessary sun umbrella carried by yet more followers, he waved at the adoring crowd as he jostled around in his sedan chair, his heavy bling jingling with every movement.
Another Dodowa dignitary.
A man for whom his presence and golden staff were more than enough decoration.
Time to dance!
Sometimes you just have to put the camera down. (Photo credit: Isabelle J.)
P.S.: A year and a half later, I’ve finally decided to find out what this festival was all about. According to this website, the Dodowa “ngmayem” festival is an annual event held by the Shai tribe in remembrance of a great famine that lasted seven years until it was put to an end by a bountiful harvest in the 8th year. “Ngmayem” means “to hoot at hunger”.