Easter Homecoming at Akim Swedru (March 25 2013)
The story of Easter in Ghana cannot be told without the word “Kwahu” featuring at least twice on every line, and Kwahu Easter is one of how unplanned happenstance can turn into a major opportunity; it speaks of the entrepreneurial spirit that has animated the people of the Kwahu Mountains for the better part of a century. I don’t know how much of this special romance has been chronicled but from sources I learnt about this subject years ago, the Kwahu Easter phenomenon came about because the Kwahu people who are mostly retail traders in grocery and hardware wanted to make more money at Christmas. Perhaps that needs some explaining.
By the middle of the last century, Christmas had become the main opportunity for people to return to their hometowns for family reunions and to show off what they had acquired on their travels working in big towns such as Accra, Kumasi, Koforidua and others. Of course shopping for bargains usually went on till late on Christmas eve and ever eager to make a quick pesewa, the Kwahu traders decided to sell to the last minute by which time it would be too late to go on their own holidays. By default, they as a group “postponed” their Christmas till the Easter. It was a clever move; since most other people did not celebrate Easter with the same zeal this meant the Kwahus could then invite their friends to come along.
By the middle of the last century Kwahu Easter was already firmly established as a social and cultural event not to ignore the religious dimension which is often overshadowed. The amazing thing is that although the original reasons that brought Kwahu and Easter together do no longer hold completely the Kwahu mountain continues to draw hundreds of thousands of holiday makers every Easter.
Now, Kwahu has an imitator in waiting. A group of people who hail from Akyem Swedru are set to make their hometown the second Easter destination of choice in this country. They have created what they are calling Easter Homecoming 2013 to lure those who may have done Kwahu and need a change or who simply want to stay away from the mammoth numbers that will trek up the hills. They started their own Easter activities last year but the emphasis was to encourage people from the town and its environs to return home for the Easter, hence the “Homecoming”. This year will be Homecoming Mark Two, for which they are throwing the invitation wide open.
According to one of the organisers, Mr. Maxwell Asare-Brewu, the main purpose of the Easter Homecoming is to speed the development of the ancient town by bringing ALL the people together in order “to think together, plan together and implement together”. He explained that after this year’s event the name of their Easter event occasion will change to reflect the appeal to a much wider audience. “For this year, it is Homecoming with a difference because we want all our visitors to feel at home”.
An elaborate programme has been laid out for the festivities. It begins on Thursday when a massive cleanup campaign and pothole-filling exercise will herald the “happening”. Apart from sprucing up the place to impress visitors, the cleanup will also be used to create health and hygiene awareness in the town with a talk by a local health expert. Friday will be devoted to church services and a candlelight and brass band procession through the streets which will culminate in a choral music night with youth and church choirs in performance.
The cleanup exercise will continue on Saturday morning to be followed by indoor and indigenous games such as marble, cards, ampe, draughts, Ludo, oware, sack race, and many more. The main durbar will take place at Abontenkesem at which a public forum on the theme How to Contribute to the Development of my Community under the patronage of the Omanhene of Bosome Traditional Area, Okotwasuo Oworae Agyekum.
The rest of the evening will be the climax of the Easter reverie with spinners and live acts in music, dance and drama. Sunday will be thanksgiving services at the various churches to be followed by a football match at the Methodist Park. The final activity for Sunday is a fundraising dinner and dance at the Eyirba Hotel to raise funds to establish a development fund. Monday will be devoted to a breakfast meeting with all Chiefs and Elders to discuss matters of concern, especially to the youth.
The organisers are keen to stress that the other purpose of the Easter Homecoming Mark Two is to foster unity among all the people from the Bosome area. They note that political elections often bring a measure of disagreements among people but events such as this bring them back together as one people therefore the Member of Parliament and all politicians, youth and community leaders, religious groups, community leaders, men and women and above all chiefs will all support their programme. For further information on Easter at Akim Swedru please contact: Maxwell Asare-Brewu on 0244 832 460 and 026 283 2460
Naturally, the only books to talk about this week are books by the late Chinua Achebe, especially the first of the many influential books he wrote, Things Fall Apart. The reactions to his death have confirmed him as one of the most important figures in world literature in the last 60 years. Things Fall Apart alone has been translated into more than 50 languages and has sold more than ten million copies but the more telling aspect of the tributes is how Achebe seemed to have affected people personally in different ways. Nelson Mandela said that in the company of Achebe’s books prison walls broke down…
As for me, Chinua Achebe simply opened my eyes to the joys of literature and literary language in particular. When my classmates and I encountered Achebe for the first time nearly 50 years ago we did not know that he had broken new ground. We just felt that this was African writing because we had heard the speeches before in our homes and communities even if the stories were from Nigeria. We could recite large parts of Things Fall Apart from memory and used to quote it during debates, mostly to show off, I suspect.
But Chinua Achebe did for me a lot more than that. I discovered the beauty of language and poetry beyond Africa. The title is takes from W. B. Yeats’ seminal poem, The Second Coming, which I found so enthralling that it led me to discover other equally powerful verse in the school library. Here we go:
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
I did not need to understand it fully being only 13 years or so, but the gyrations and whirling motions of the first four lines of the poem spoke to the anarchy that is necessarily part of a young awakened teen’s outlook growing up in the first decade of independence in Ghana. This was new, intense and powerful stuff to store in the brain. This is what good writing does. This is what many of the young are being denied because of lack of libraries, books and quality teaching of literature.
Correction: In an interview on GBC Radio I mistakenly attributed the Poem, The Second Coming to Lord Alfred Tennyson. Of course it is by W.B. Yeats.
Happy Easter to All Mirror Diary Readers