Dodowa Festival II

The Dodowa Festival (first post here) was a wild whirlwind of colors, music and dance. But as an outsider I found the spectators just as captivating. Many stood and reacted to the performances in unison, smiling and swaying together. Children darted through and around the adults’ legs, feeding off of the energy in the air and the high-sugar snacks bought for them by parents in good moods.

I mean, just look at them. Adorable.

A delicious balloon.

Smiles all around.

Sandwiched between friends. 

A baby more interested in his succulent fingers than the partying around him as he hangs off his mother’s back. 

A friend helps this little girl get her earring back on.

Earring back on; ready to pose.

The elders watched everything from a safe distance.

The local candy shop was definitely having a good sales day.

A glamorous and poised woman.

Wearing the national colors of Ghana. Three beautiful girls wearing the entire rainbow.

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Dodowa Festival

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”. 

The Fishermen of Cape Coast

Cape Coast Castle was built by a Swedish trading company in the 17th century on the southern shores of Ghana. First a gold and timber trade settlement, then a slave depot for the Atlantic slave trade, it now stands as an incongruous sight on the shores of Cape Coast, a fishing town. It serves as a reminder of a deep scar on the heart of the nation, visited daily by hoards of tourists and students, as well as a convenient launching point for many fishing pirogues.

A schoolgirl chases her classmates out of one of the many dark tunnels leading to the castle’s underground storerooms. 

Schoolboys peering over the walls, perhaps to watch the fishermen. 

People hanging over the castle walls to talk to fellow fishermen in their pirogues. 

Fishermen socializing while they sit and repair their nets at the foot of the castle. 

Fishermen gathering to discuss the day’s work.

A fisherman sneaking a nap against the walls of the castle. 

The white castle stands in sharp contrast against the homes built next to it.

While her parents are busy working, this young girl takes care of an even younger girl.

Fishermen hauling in their catch on Bojo Beach, which is on the way to Cape Coast.

(Photos taken in November and December, 2011 while I was studying abroad in Ghana).