Ghana - Dipo Festival


Ghana - Dipo Festival

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 10 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

A special trip together with an anthropologist to discover how tradition and modernity go hand in hand. We will witness how ethnic-cultural rites and traditions are still celebrated and strongly hold their cultural power. We attend three important festivals celebrated by three different cultural groups; one religious, one institutional and a cultural-societal one.

Every year the Fanati thank the God of Winneba through the Aboakyer (deer hunting) festival.

Ashanti people are proud of their cultural origins and very much attached to their king. Every six weeks they celebrate the Akwasidae to show respect to their king.

Every year, Krobo people gather together in Aksombo, the ‘capital’ of the Krobo region to celebrate the female initiation rite to become a real krobo woman.

During this trip we will try to understand how people still define themselves through their cultural-ethnic origins while claiming and living as Ghanaian citizens. We explore the modern and lively capital city of Accra, strolling around art galleries, pubs with live music and the poor district of Jamestown, the original settlement of Accra.

Ghana will give us the best understanding of why tradition and modernity cannot live without one another.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●○○○○

Tour Rating

Busy

Tour Highlights

  • The chance to mingle with the fascinating tribal peoples and observe their enduring cultures
  • Kumasi, the intriguing historical and spiritual centre of the Ashanti Kingdom
  • The atmospheric Cape Coast and Elmina areas with their mixed history
  • Experience Akwasidae Festival and traditional Ashanti ceremonies
  • Attend the Dipo and Aboakyer Festivals

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel accommodation
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum group size 16 (you are likely to be joined by travellers from companies other than Undiscovered Destinations, with a mix of nationalities).
Start Point: Accra
End Point: Accra
Transport: 4WD or minibuses 
Countries: Ghana

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour. On this tour you will be accompanied by an English-speaking anthropologist.

Day 1 – 25th April 2020 - Accra

Arrive in Accra and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, there may be time to explore this vibrant African capital. Overnight at La Villa Boutique or similar.

Accra

Ghana’s capital is one of Africa’s biggest cities, with the inevitable traffic, noise and mayhem. Despite being a fast growing, lively city, the people are friendly and welcoming and maintain many aspects of their tribal African roots. The National Museum houses one of West Africa’s best ethnographic, historical and art collections, which gives a good introduction to Ghana and surrounding areas. The old quarter of Jamestown is the heart of the old colonial town (British protected area) and was inhabited by the Ga people, who founded Accra in the 16th century. There are numerous bustling markets to explore where you can discover everything from food, clothing and household goods to traditional crafts. There is even an area for the fabrication of special coffins that take the forms of fish, fruit, animals, or your favourite car, traditionally based on the occupation of the deceased, but customisable by prior request.

Days 2 & 3 – 26th – 27th April - Accra – Krobo (100km – 2 hours driving approx. then drives in the region)

We drive to Krobo to attend the Dipo Festival. The Krobo are famous for their bead making and the festivl provides an excellent opportunity to showcase this tradition. We will have time to learn about the process of making the glass beads and try our hand at producing our own! During these two days, we will also attend a voodoo ceremony. During the ceremony some of the adepts may become possessed giving rise to amazing trances. Overnights at Afrikiko Resort or similar (BLD)

Dipo Festival

Dipo is a female initiation rite which aims at turning a girl into a woman. The entrance into womanhood will be led according to the tradition and girls who successfully go through this rite can become good wives. The girls undergo a series of rituals, tests and tasks to prove both their chastity and their being ready for adult life. During the final steps of the rite, the girls are elegantly decorated: colourful assorted beads adorn their exposed upper parts while from waist to knee they are covered in beautiful fabrics. Their breasts are bare for everyone to see.

During the ceremony, the girls appear in public in their ceremonial dress and then their heads are shaved leaving only a small portion of hair on the head; a piece of raffia is tied around their neck to indicate they are Dipo-yi. On the next morning, the girls are given a ritual bath in a river and then are required to taste foods like sugar cane and peanuts.  They will learn women’s tasks and once the rite is over they will retour from a secret place adorned with glass beads necklaces and wrapped in beautiful textiles: it is the time of the celebration: they are the new born! The day after they will dance for the community asking for money where contributions would be gratefully received.

Day 4 – 28th April – Akosombo – Accra (100km – 2 hours driving approx.)

We leave the Krobo region and drive back to Accra, the metropolis of Africa. We focus on Jamestown, the original settlement of the Ga people. We will see the reminisces of the slave trade and the old lighthouse. We may get to visit one of the boxing gyms, a popular sport among the youngsters, and see Jamestown Café. We end the day seeing the coffin makers – something very unique to Ghana.   These craftsmen build elaborate coffins in many weird and wonderful shapes including fish, cars, animals and aeroplanes! Overnight Villa Boutique 4* or similar (BLD)

Day 5 – 29th April – Accra; West End

Today we focus on the ‘modern soul’ of Accra. First we visit some of Accra’s finest art museums including the Artists Alliance Gallery, Wild Gecko Handicrafts and Gallery 1957 before exploring the design and cloth shops from the show ‘an African City’, the equivalent of Sex and the city, created by a Ghanaian woman where hopefully we get the chance to meet some designers and explain their work. In the evening enjoy live music with your dinner. Overnight Villa Boutique 4* or similar (BLD)

Day 6 – 30th April – Accra- Elmina (157km – 3.5 hours driving approx.)

Today we drive to the coast and the fishing town of Elmina, best known for St George’s Castle, the oldest European building in Africa and once used as a holding centre for slaves. We explore the old quarter with its unique Posuban shrines, made by the traditional ‘asafo’ societies which were once responsible for local defence. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar (BLD)  

Elmina

Elmina is best known for its Castle of St George, built in 1482 by the Portuguese and occupied by the Dutch and British in the following centuries. The Castle and its museum are of considerable interest and the town is now a colourful thriving fishing port where hundreds of colourfully painted wooden fishing canoes are anchored. The best time to see the port is in the morning when fishermen arrive back with their catches, and traders crowd the area. In addition to the Castle of St George Elmina boasts another – the smaller Fort St Jago, situated on top of a hill as a protective measure against the castle being bombarded from above. There are also numerous animistic shrines throughout the town built by Posuban societies to protect the fishermen.

Day 7 – 1st May – Elmina – Winneba (2 hours driving approx.)

Today starts with a visit of Cape Coast castle, built by the Swedish in 1653. Between 1657 and 1664 the castle changed many hands, having been conquered by the Danes, the Dutch, the Fanti local tribe, the Swedes and finally the British. Today it is a museum showcasing the history of the slave trade. This afternoon we transfer to Winneba where people are getting ready for the festival. We walk around the city taking in the buzz of the excitement of the local people. Overnight Blue Diamond Beach Resort or similar (BLD)

Day 8 – 2nd May – Aboakyer Festival, Winneba – Kumasi (250km – 5 hours driving approx.)

This morning is spend at the Aboakyer Festival. This afternoon we transfer to Kumasi. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar (BLD)

Aboakyer Festival

Aboakyer, also known as the ‘deer hunting festival’ is organised to honour the tribal God of the town. The God Penkye Otu receives a deer sacrifice. Originating around 300 years ago when Winneba was first settled and people believed that they only managed to establish their homes thanks to the Gods and they are still under its protection. The festival is an expression of their gratitude.

 Aboakyer involves to groups of people- the Tuafo and the Dentsifo. They compete with one another to go into the bush and be the first to catch a deer. The group which first catches the deer comes back singing war and victory songs, and presents it to the Omanhene, who places his bare right foot on it three times. After completing this ritual, the deer is lifted up and carried through the streets to the shrine of the Penkye Otu, where the deer is sacrificed.

Day 9 – 3rd May – Kumasi – Akwasidae Festival

Today we will experience the traditional Akwasidae Festival, a special celebration on the Ashanti calendar. If time permits, we will also visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre, housing a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts in a wonderful reproduction of an Ashanti house. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar (BLD)

Kumasi

Kumasi is the historical and spiritual capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. With its population of nearly one million, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market where traders from all over Africa come to sell their wares. Every kind of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, Kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit and vegetable. We visit the Ghana National Cultural Centre, which has a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts, housed in a reproduction of a traditional Ashanti royal house.

Ashanti

The Ashanti people were one of the most powerful nations in Africa until the end of the 19th century, when the British annexed Ashanti country, bringing it into their Gold Coast colony. Originally from the northern savannah regions, the Ashanti people migrated south, carving farms out of the wild rainforest. The region was rich in gold, and trade in this precious metal developed quickly, with small tribal states developing and vying for control of resources. In the late 17th century the Ashanti ruler brought these states together in a loose confederation and the Ashanti Kingdom was born. Their social organisation is centred on the Ashantehene figure, the king of all the Ashanti. The Ashanti are the lords of the gold, so they adorn themselves in it during ceremonies. The Ashanti Kingdom was famed for its gold, royalty, ceremony and the development of a bureaucratic judicial system.

Akwasidae Festival

This special celebration takes place in the Royal Palace in Kumasi and is a traditional ceremony maintaining ancient rituals in one of the last remaining African Kingdoms. During the celebration the King is adorned is vivid clothing and centuries old jewellery and is surrounded by the Ashanti elders and advisors, all under the authority of the Royal Speaker. In front of the King a narrow passage of dignitaries is formed, representing all roles and positons of power within the kingdom, including sword and knife bearers, armed guards, carriers of beautiful ostrich feathers and more. The ceremony continues with a procession of royal court attendants bringing gifts, storytellers reciting the history of the Ashanti Kings, drummers and other musical instruments accompanied by dancers dressed in spectacular costumes. The mother queen also joins the ceremony accompanied by her attendants.

Day 10 – 4th May – Kumasi – Accra (250km, 5 hours driving approx.)

This morning we travel back to Accra for your evening flight. Day use rooms available until 1800hrs (BL)

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers provided on a shared or private basis depending on location. On occasions the transfer will be operated by a hotel shuttle bus (*please see notes below)
All accommodation 
Transport throughout
Services of English anthropologist throughout the trip 
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Water - please bring your own water bottle to fill up from a water tank

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks
Tips (Discretionary)

*Please note that airport transfers will be provided on the advertised start and end dates of the tour. In addition arrival and/or departure transfers will be provided in conjunction with any pre and/or post tour accommodation that has been booked and paid for through Undiscovered Destinations. In all other cases charges may apply for airport transfers.


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