The Chiefs and people of the Anlo State in the Volta Region have celebrated their annual Hogbetsotso festival on the theme: "Uniting Anlo through its values for the benefit of its citizens and the nation at large".
This year's event was attended by the Mamponghene, who represented Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
It was the first time in a century and a half that the Asantehene or his representative had joined the people of Anlo to celebrate the festival.
The Otumfuo could not, however, attend the ceremony because he was indisposed.
Nonetheless, the glamour with which the Mamponghene, Daasebre Nana Osei Bonsu II, and his entourage stormed the durbar grounds, brought excitement to the people who had waited impatiently for his arrival.
The colourful event attracted hundreds of people, including high-profile personalities and foreigners to the durbar grounds last Saturday.
They included chiefs from the 36 Anlo states some of which were Some, Shime, Klikor, Avenor, Agave, Kome, Dzodze and Aflao.
Also in attendance were former Presidents Flt.Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama.
Others were the National Security Minister, Mr Kan Dapaah, the Inspector General of Police, James Oppong-Boanuh, and party functionaries.
At exactly 10:30 a.m., the Mamponghene and the Mamponghemaa, who were the special guests of honour, arrived at the durbar in a palanquin dressed in their traditional regalia amid drumming, dancing and firing of muskets.
This was followed immediately by the arrival of the Awoamefia of Anlo, Togbui Sri, and his warlord, Awadada Awusu Agbesi II.
They were led in a procession by “Atsiagbekor” “Gadzo” and “Husego” war dancers who carried what they referred to as the ‘36 articles of life’ of the Anlos on a wooden tray with lamps in the middle, signifying a re-enactment of their exodus from Notsie, in Togo, and King Agorkoli, from whom the Ewes escaped to present day Ghana.
The procession was also symbolically meant to convey a message to King Agorkoli that: “We are the group of highly enlightened people who have mastered perfectly the problems of the universe and have come to settle here.”
The spiritual performance which left people spellbound was the ‘Zagbetor’ and ‘Korku’ dances.
Zagbetor is a traditional hut made of the raffia plant and controlled remotely with incantations and was used as an armoured vehicle during wars in the olden days.
Korku, on the other hand, is a performance where the dancers allegedly cut their abdomen open and seal it instantly with a powder.
In a message read on behalf of the Asantehene by Daasebre Osei Bonsu II, he called for the preservation of the long-standing relations between the people of Anlo and Ashanti.
The Asantehene described the Awoamefia as his brother who is committed to the welfare and development of his people, and thanked him for honouring an invitation to the last Akwasidae and 20th Anniversary of Adaekese of the Ashantis in Kumasi.
The Otumfuo explained that he could not attend the ceremony in person due to circumstances beyond his control, and said “the occupant of the Silver Stool is mandated to represent us in all circumstances”.
According to Otumfuo, the exchange of visits was not a simple reciprocal activity but “an interaction of the deepest significance not only for the people of Asante and the Anlos, but indeed, for the unity, peace and orderly development of the great nation Ghana to which we are all proud to belong”.
He said historians had not given recognition to “the great acts of diplomacy and peace-building in our pre-colonial history when Otumfuo Kofi Karikari and Togbui Sri entered into a pact in 1875”.
The pact committed the Asantes and Anlos to avoid waging war against each other, and as a result, the two states have maintained a relationship of peace and cooperation into the 20th century.
The Asantehene urged the two states to ward off efforts of persons who tried to inject discord in their relationship to undermine the unity that exists between them.
In line with tradition, the Mamponghene presented a gift to the Awoamefia on behalf of the Asantehene.
The Awoamefia said the theme of the festival was in cognisance of the need for progress and development of the nation.
He commended the government for efforts to undertake the Keta Harbour project.
The yet-to-be-established port, according to the Awoamefia, would transform the area into an industrial enclave.
The chief, therefore, implored President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to ensure the project became a reality.
The Awoamefia also appealed for the completion of the Anyako Water Project which had been on the drawing board for some time now, adding that there was the need to also pay attention to agriculture in the area.
The Awadada, Togbui Agbesi Awusu II, also underscored the need for investment in the restoration of historical sites in the area, some of which were currently decrepit.
The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, who represented the President, said the government was committed to fulfilling its promises to Ghanaians, including the people of Anlo.
“As you may be aware, the process for the construction of the Keta Port is ongoing. A Director of Keta Port was appointed and introduced to the Awoamefia and his council.
The director is to speed up the procurement process towards early construction works,” he said.
The minister said the sod would be cut for the construction of the Keta Fish Landing Site in December this year.
On roads, Dr Letsa assured the people that work would commence simultaneously across the country after road contractors had been paid the debts owed them by the government.