The biggest festival in the Volta Region of Ghana, which is celebrated by a majority of the Anlo towns and people in the region is Hogbetsotso Festival. Among these major towns in the region we have the following celebrating Hogbetsotso Festival, and these towns are; Keta, Alakple, Atiavi, Konu, Kedzi, Abor, Anyako, Tsito, and Atiavi. On the first Saturday of the month of November every year, the festival is celebrated to remember and celebrate the exodus of the Anlo people from Notse in Togo to their present location.
Historical Background Of Hogbetsotso Festival
According to the oral tradition, the people of Anlo once lived in Notse, a town in present-day Togo. During their time in Notse, the Anlo people went through injustice and were subjected to slavery under the Notse chief known as King Agorkoli, essentially because they were the minority group in the town.
After decades of suffering under the tyrannical rule of Agorkoli, they decided to escape. This they started by daily pouring water into the mud wall that surrounded the town. With time the wall became very soft, enabling them to break through it and escape from the town. The Journey which is believed to have taken them years finally resulted in their arrival in their present-day home in the Volta Region, Ghana. It is from this history that the name Hogbetsotso (Ewe language which translates into ‘Coming from Notse’) was derived.
Why do we celebrate the Hogbetsotso Festival?
The Hogbetsotso za serves as a time for earnest meditation, for the chiefs and people of Anlo to be reminded of their difficult journey from Notse and how peace and unity among them made their journey and escape from Notse possible. There are some major activities that take place in the participating communities such as, Pouring of libation, cleansing of stools, mock-up day a day that is set aside to demonstrate the way the departure or escape of the captives was organized, general cleaning of the communities, Nugbidodo means reconciliation and Hanududu which allows husbands provide ingredients for their wives to prepare meals and an open-house get-together is afterward held. The concept is that those who quarrel do not dine together. So in other for peace and unity, this is done.
The Hogbetsotso za, like most traditional festivals in Ghana, ends in a Durbar where the chiefs use the opportunity to remind the people of Anlo to live in peace and harmony just like their ancestors did. The event ends with drumming, traditional dancing, and merry-making.