Africa - Yam Festival
The yam festival marks the end of an abundant
food-producing harvest. African people have always had festivals at the
time of the harvest. In Ghana the Yam Festival (Homowo) lasts three
days. The festival begins with a cleansing ceremony to honor family
members who have died. Farmers give thanks to the gods who ensure a good
harvest. Twins and triplets are honored during this time as a special
gift from God.
A yam is large root vegetable that looks like a tube. People often
confuse a yam with a sweet potato. Yams come from Africa while sweet
potatoes are from Asia. Yams can be stored for 2 months in dark and cool
areas. They can also be dried and turned into flour for longer storage.
Interestingly, Yams are associated with Thanksgiving in the United
States. When you have yams at your Thanksgiving dinner, think about the
villagers in Ghana and Nigeria. They too are giving thanks ...
especially for this special food
Yams are an important crop in Ghana. During Homowo, they are taken from
the ground and are carried to the village. Then they are blessed by the
chief. Special foods made from yams are served. Mashed yams with hard
boiled eggs are an important part of the festival. People also eat
Kpekpele which is made from corn meal and palm oil.
During homowo people wear a kind of toga made from kente cloth which is
brightly colored. The festival ends with a big feast. People dance and
sing to the sounds of drums. When a child is born into the society of
Ghana, a meal of yam and other ingredients is prepared for relatives and
the midwife who delivers the baby.