E. A. Ammah, “Annual Festival of the Ga People,”

IMG_4996                                                                                                                                    [In the August and September 1961 issues of The Ghanaian, E. A. Ammah, “an authority on the Ga language, history, and customs” discussed parallels in the Ga Homowo and the Jewish Passover celebrations.  These “parallels” included similarities in calendars, prayers, protective rituals, and festive harvest meals.   In the October 1962 Ghanaian, Mr. Ammah laid out four possible explanations for these ritual parallels without committing himself to any of them.  M. Kilson]

I.             E. A. Ammah, “Annual Festival of the Ga People,” The Ghanaian (August 1961): 9,11.

W. C. Willoughby in his book “The Soul of the Bantu” shows the value and significance of festivals in the life of the African people as a whole.  Wherever these festivals are celebrated, the background is identical.  The most remarkable and striking point is that the origins are associated with the Israelites.

Writing about the feast of the first fruits, Willoughby quotes Kidd as “this feast is divided into two portions, a little festival which is attended only by the great festival men of the nation and the great which all warriors are obliged to attend.”  The former, we are told, is agricultural and the latter is pastoral.  Willoughby concludes: “the tribes amalgamated an agricultural and a pastoral spring festival, somewhat as the Hebrew nomads did after they settled down to agricultural life in Canaan.”

Further, writing about the joyful features of feast, Willoughby has this to say: “The feast of the Lord in Shiloh, and the vantage feast in Shechem, are so much after the pattern that one cannot possibly mistake of thinking it peculiar to the Bantu.”  The Hebrew feasts, he continues, “were occasions of joyful merry-making, when the festive throng expressed itself in a type of jubilant exultation….It is a far cry from the Bantu idea of worship to the noble conception set forth in the Gospel According to St. John; but the path that man has travelled is being travelled by man.”

This sketchy introduction indicates that the African Personality is immanent in our culture; therefore, we are potentially united in spirit and in truth.  The interesting point to repeat is that, the cultural identity or background of the festivals pervasive in other areas of States in Africa, are also pervasive in Ghana.  The Ga  Homowo Festival, which is identical to the Hebrew Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, is a typical example.

It would scarcely be appropriate to write on the Homowo Festival without making a brief reference to the origin of the Ga People.  The general opinion is that “Ga civilization is as original as the Hebrews’.”  It is distinctly also true in all that stands for Hebrew worship.

The basis of Ga religion is enshrined in their three great annual festivals, namely, Homowo, Nmaayeli and Nmaatoo which have a very close and intimate parallel connection with those of the Jews or as one aptly put it “are reminiscent of the three annual festivals of the Jews,” namely the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Ingathering.  One very essential characteristic of them is that all are harvest  festivals in which their religious feeling finds practical and inward expression in rituals and ceremonies.  No one who has made a critical study and impartial comparison of the Ga forms with those of the Jews will fail to be struck by the very close similarities between them.  One is indeed tempted to draw the conclusion that the ancestors of the Ga people interlard with the Jews or were probably an offshoot of them.  The collective name of the Ga people is Ga or Gaga, or Loiabii or Olai abii.

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