Akan Leadership Arts

by Doran Ross
Formerly Fowler Museum, UCLA

Nana Kwabu Ewusi VI, Abeadze Dominase, Ghana, 1976. Photo by Doran H. Ross.

 

One of the most important festivals among the Akan peoples of southern Ghana is Odwira (the Yam Festival), a first fruits celebration that offers the newly harvested yam to state gods, state drums, the paramount chief, and the ancestors. It is a time of homecoming and thanksgiving that is highlighted by a procession of chiefs through the town. The focus of attention is on the paramount chief who is seen here under an umbrella dancing on a palanquin held aloft by his subjects. In his hand is a horsetail flywhisk that extends and amplifies his dance gestures. He is wearing an imported European brocade, which competes with strip-woven and appliqué cloth as a favorite among chiefs for festival attire. Partially enveloped in his cloth is a niece who represents his descent group in this matrilineal society.