Residents and visitors in the Tema Central Business Area were drawn to the colourful observation of the ‘Soobii’ segment of the Ga Homowo yearly festival by cars honking and loud Ga traditional music blaring from speakers. ‘Soobii,’ which literally means “Thursday People,” is the day before the production of the festival’s unique cuisine, “Kpokpoi.”
It is a day that the natives welcome their relatives from rural communities in the traditional area and other parts of the country.
The women, dressed in matching clothes, sat at the edges of the doors of the taxi cabs, displaying and drinking from their green beer bottles as they danced in excitement.
The vehicles they were seated in moved slowly through the principal streets of Tema Community One.
The Soobii procession started from the Meridian enclave, the original settlement of the people of Tema before the creation of the harbour and their subsequent relocation to Tema Manhean.
This year’s Soobii procession had a new twist as a number of yellow painted Pragya tricycles were used in addition to the traditional taxis, and it was a day for the tricycles to visit the administrative area as their operations had been hitherto confined to Tema Newtown/Manhean areas.
At the premises of the Tema Metropolitan Authority (TMA), the women, accompanied by a few men got off their vehicles and danced Kpᾰ (a traditional dance in which they move gracefully, stamping their feet, raising their shoulders and swinging their hands) to the Kpᾰ lala (Kpa song) which is used to commend or criticise activities of people.
Mr Yohane Amarh Ashitey, the Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, could not hide his excitement as the women sent the celebrations to the Assembly and joined in the singing and dancing as they placed a necklace of nyanyra leaves (Momordica Charantia) on his neck as a sign of blessings and honour from the people of Tema.
Asafoanye Naa Agbo I, a member of the Tema Traditional Council (TTC), explained to the Ghana News Agency in Tema that the observation of the Soobii originated from the olden days when they welcome back their relatives staying at far places such as Saasabi, Oyibi, and other villages, as well as those who had travelled out of the region or the country.
Asafoanye Agbo, who is also the representative of the Traditional Council at the TMA, added that they came in groups on vehicles, a depiction of what was done currently by the women, adding that the people of the town welcome them by shouting repeatedly “Soobii ebaee” to wit, Thursday People have arrived!”
She further said the night was for jubilation and merry making as the women would come together in their various clan houses to prepare the Kpokpoi, beginning from the eve of Friday.
On why the women preferred sitting on the doors of the vehicle instead of in it, she stated that it was for the fun of it adding that as a precaution the vehicles do not speed, while the organizers thought it wise to add an ambulance to the fleet to take care of any emergency.
Taking the GNA through other activities of the Homowo, she stated that ꬼmaa dumↄ (growing of corn/millet) was done during the Kplejoo Festival which ushers in the Homowo.
She added that closing of the sea for three days, and opening it with some traditional rituals, and fishing expedition by the two fishing quarters has also been done some days back.
Naa Agbo said there was also “ꬼↄↄ wala” (Life be unto you) which would be observed on Sunday morning when every native is expected to visit his or her clan home for peaceful settlement of any misunderstanding.
She indicated that the evening of the same Sunday would see people dressed in their best and visiting family and friends to dine and wish each other long life, good health, wealth, among others.
She further said a week after this, the traditional priestesses, adorned in their beautiful clothes and beads would entertain the people at the shrine of the traditional high priest with skilful dances.
She extended an invitation to residents of Tema and the public to join the natives to celebrate the Homowo as it provides a great opportunity to learn about the people hosting them in the harbour cum industrial city at the centre of the world.