Munufie Yam Festival celebrated by the people of Bono

By Charles Yeboah (Sir Lord)
Culture & Norms Munufie Yam Festival celebrated by the people of Bono

The month of October is a happy one for the people of Bonoman.

It's a month of festivities, when the Bono people celebrate the abundance of food with pomp and pageantry.

The Munufie Yam Festival is about thanking the gods and the ancestors for a good harvest of Yam.

At the same time, they feast and hoot at hunger.

Yams are a major crop staple for the Bono people. Yam is ubiquitously used to prepare different dishes as: Ampesi, Fufuo/Fufu, Ɛtɔ/tɔ, and the likes.

History has it that the Bono people were the first to discover Yam.

The story come in two schools of thoughts.
One, the Gyaaman/Jaman people relate that, one of their ancient great kings ate an unidentified tuber during a serious famine.

The King's subjects doubted the wholesomeness of the tuber when it was first uprooted and brought home by a hunter.

When the king did not die after eating this unknown tuber, the people adopted the food to assuage their hunger during a serious famine.

It was called Deɛ or Bayerɛ. Meaning, it is dependent food as it will be in one owning a good son or a good wife.

Two, in the Bono East, specifically Yefri, where the Chiefs and people religiously observe the tradition of the celebration of the Yam Festival; it's narrated that it was at Mpaworoso that the first Yam tuber was discovered.

At Yefri, the King dare not taste Yam until the Munufie Yam Festival is celebrated in October. He will greatly fall ill or, worst, die from eating the tuber if he first does not present the staple to the gods and the ancestors who first rewarded them the staple in times of hunger.

At Goka in the Bono Gyaaman, students lineup in the streets, holding firewood, singing and marching to the Chief's palace.

The Soodofoɔ or cooks at the palace use the firewood to prepare Bayerɛtɔ fufuo (mashed yam without palm oil) and share for the students and the children who attend the ceremony.

The same food is presented to the gods and the ancestors by the Sumankwaahene, the Chief Priest.

The procedure is almost the same for all the Bono kingdoms that celebrate the Munufie Yam Festival in present day Ghana and Ivory Coast.

At the festival durbar, the King sits in state. Invited guests and subjects presents gifts which includes tubers of yams, liquor, or beverages and money to the King.

Traditional dancers entertain the guests with Aboma, Kete, Adowa and other Akan dances.

Poetry recitals and drum appellations also crown it when the king is about to deliver his closing speech and bless his people.

These days, things have changed. The traditional way of celebrating the Munufie Yam Festival has taken more of a religious twist.

Especially in Kingdoms where the King is a Christian, the Christian pastors are called to preach and pray to bless the ceremony.

Yours truly this year has witnessed in person two Munufie Yam Festivals.

The first was at Yefri on the first day of October, where the King, Okoforoboɔ Nana Opoku Gyima Takyi II, who doubles as a Christian pastor, married tradition with modernity perfectly.

Then on the tenth of October 2023 that of my nativity, Goka, where the King, Okokyeredɔm Frimpong Ampofo III, is a retired Fire Service Officer.

In all, the Kings' chosen profession had their peers attending in their numbers to grace the occasion.

I must confess that since I left my native Bono to acquire education elsewhere, this year, this October, is my first to witness the Munufie Yam Festival.

And the beauty of it will compel me to crave more again and again.

Because Culture is beautiful. Culture is dynamic. Culture is the major engine of growth that needs to be oiled by all to accelerate Ghana's development.

On my part as a content creator, I use my talent to compose poem, drum appellation and drama to draw a needed attention to relive the relics of our traditional culture.

All Bono natives are therefore through this medium urged to join hands to make subsequent Munufie Yam Festivals a memorable one in all Bono enclaves and among Bono communities in the diaspora.

By Charles Yeboah (Sir Lord)
[email protected]

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024