Sunday, March 1, 2015

Damba festival

The NaaYiri's drums
   In the first few days of January, we were invited to attend another Mamprusi festival, called the Damba festival. This is a festival that celebrates the Mamprusi people (and any people groups that derived from them), the NaaYiri (the paramount chief), and his chiefs, and it is the largest celebration in Nalerigu. They celebrate for about a week  based on the lunar calendar. We could hear drums and music each day from our house, as they were preparing for the final day of celebration. Different people from different people groups would come out in the afternoon to perform their different traditional dances. The girls and I went with our friend Abena to part of the festival on the last full day (unfortunately Tim had to work).
The MC
The NaaYiri's horse
The senior drummer
a man who danced
   When we arrived, there was already a large crowd of hundreds of people in the center of town. There were bus loads more continuing to come. With Abena's help, we were able to move to the front in order to see what was happening. As we moved to the front, we saw a clearing of the people from the NaaYiri's palace over to a portico area several yards away. Several of the chiefs were already under the portico, awaiting the arrival of the NaaYiri. In the clearing there was a man who was the master of ceremonies of the event and a finely dressed horse being walked around. I later found out that this horse was the NaaYiri's horse that, when he was younger, he would ride into the ceremony. Just underneath the portico there were a couple of men sitting behind a set of large special drums, the NaaYiri's drums, which are only used on special occasions. The men began playing the drums to announce the entrance of the NaaYiri. The NaaYiri proceeded out of his palace under the shadows of a large umbrella dressed in finery and surrounded by his closest chiefs. He walked over to the portico and sat down on his mountain of pillows. Next to the palace there was a line of several Djembe drummers who began playing. At the front of this line was a very old man who sat on the ground playing his Djembe drum, who was the NaaYiri's senior drummer. As he played, he would recite the history of the Mamprusi people going through each of the paramount chiefs and their accomplishments. As he was speaking he would slowly scoot forward, so as to finish his recitation as he approached the portico. When he completed his recitation, there were three men who came out from the portico and began dancing. One was a  chief warrior and the others were priest chiefs who performed a choreographed representation of something from their early history. After this display, there were a few other men who came out and danced as well. After a certain period of dancing, the NaaYiri went back into his palace for some rest. After he was in his palace, several men began shooting their guns. This frightened the girls, so we quickly left.
another man who danced
man preparing to shoot gun
   I am told that late that evening, many of the people congregated again outside the palace for more dancing. They danced and continued to celebrate throughout the night until just after daybreak. The NaaYiri comes out with his chiefs again at dawn, and many of the chiefs come out and dance. After a couple of hours, the NaaYiri returns to the palace and the festival ends. There are apparently a few other rituals associated with the end of the festival, including sacrificing a cow.

Little boys with their Djembe drums

crowds standing trying to see
crowds sitting and watching

the Naayiri (pic from another missionary)

No comments:

Post a Comment