So the festival has passed and I am now able to get some rest and relax a bit. Planning was frustrating and slow these past couple months, and in the end, the final day when we had invited the dignitaries ended up being a disappointment. But, it was the first year dignitaries were invited, so it was a stepping stone…and we learned a lot for how to plan for next year.
The festival itself was amazing. The tradition behind every custom and event of the week was almost too much to take in. The festival is basically a time to facilitate peace and ask for a bountifull rainy season. It begins with the new moon and lasts for the duration of that moon…so for about 28 days or so. We take off our shirts, wear shorts, and put on a towel around our necks and then our skins. They allowed me to use the past chief’s sheep skin for the month. I was referred to as Goldaan…which is the owner of the Golob (the drum that possesses the spirit of the festival…it is centuries old). It put me in an awkward place because in no way was I deserving of such an honor…and I could see it in the eyes of some that they felt the same way. However, the Assembleyman wants to promote me, so I tried to wear it with dignity, and asked them to call me by my local name instead…Goldaanzoe…which is friend of the Goldaan.
So, we wear our traditional attire for the month. From the new moon we count 15 days, and that is the start of the week long festival. For that week, community members can speak whatever is on their mind about anyone, their disputes and they will reconcile the problem. Also, during our days of singing and dancing, songs will be created about women cheating on their husbands and other problematic current events along those lines. One song was of such a situation. The man was used to cheat on the husband, had to lead the song and dance about his wrong doing…then the lady had to be present as well. It is ment to shame the involved members…seems to work.
The dancing…the men put on our traditional attire, minus the skin. We wrap cloth around our right ankle, then put on a form of bangles that cling together when you stomp. Men will have horse tails in their left hand and swords, cains, umbrellas, and other things in their right. It begins as a call and response. An older man leads with singing, and the men following moan. After some few have joined, they start to snake around, one man following the other, all stomping their right foot in rhythm. After about 20 or so men are involved, they start to circle, the rhythm gets more intricate, and the singing in unison of whatever song the leader created begins. Dancing to one song will usually last for an hour or so. Depending on the day, Tengzug may go down to a neighboring village to dance, or other villages may come up to join us. For Moor, the climax of the week, dancing usually lasts for 14 hours in Tengzug, with 5 or so outside communities participating as well.
The festival was almost surreal…especially on the moonlit nights when we were dancing or the elders were praying to the spirits of the festival.
It was a lot to take in, and I am still sorting it out. If you have any questions about the festival, feel free to post them, and I’ll try and respond and provide clarity. But for now, I’m at the coast in Kokobritey at a picturesque resort for our In Service Training. I am reuniting with some of my fellow PCVs and enjoying the ocean breeze and the southern culture for the first time here. I’ll be traveling for a while after training, seeing a little bit of the Volta Region maybe and some other PCVs I haven’t seen in too long. So to all, take care and much love…send words.