Compiled by Kwesi Alfred Adams
The chiefs and people of Wassa Damang, a farming community in the Prestea Hunni-Valley Municipality, have, for the first time, marked their annual traditional Apasato Festival in colourful style with a grand durbar of chiefs.
Apasato, which means ‘ready for the market’, is an important event on the traditional calendar of the chiefs and people of Damang, but in years past, the festival has not seen the light of the day.
It was, therefore, a historic event and a sight to behold when the festival was revived, paving way for its climax last Saturday.
Considering the significance of the event, the number of traditional dignitaries, including political and corporate leaders who thronged the venue of the festival, went to underscore the importance of the Apasato festival.
Sitting as Chairman of the occasion was Tetreteh Okuamua Sekyi II, Omanhene of Wassa Amenfi Traditional Area, with his entourage.
Others such as the Chief of Prestea Hima, Nana Nteboa Pra II of the Apinto Divisional Stool, led a delegation in the name of the Gyaasehene, Nana Dr. Adarkwa Bediako III, to represent the stool.
Political leaders in the persons of the Minister for Tourism and Creative Arts, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Prestea Hunni-Valley, Mrs. Barbara Oteng Gyasi, the Minister for Railways Development, Joe Ghartey, and the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Prestea Hunni-Valley Assembly, Mozart Kwaku Owuh, were all present to add colour to the grand durbar of chiefs.
Delegations from the corporate world such as Goldfields Ghana Limited and other companies, including rural banks, lined up for the event.
The festival was on the theme ‘Unity Peace and Development’ and begun when the Divisional Chief of Damang, Nana Amoakwa III and Nana Ampasi Bene-Mireku, Abakomhene of Damang, were carried in a palanquin to parade the streets of Damang.
This was followed by the pouring of libation and receiving of guests at the grand durbar.
Traditional leaders lined up as guests and went round to pay respects to Nana Amoakwa and his traditional lieutenants, who were sitting in state marking the grand durbar of chiefs.
Giving the background of the Apasato Festival, the Abakomhene of Damang, Nana Ampasi Bene Mireku, known in private life as Dr. Tony Aubyn, recounted the history of the people of Damang.
He said the history had been characterised by pilgrimages, and stated that for 45 years the Apasato Festival has not been celebrated following a number of pilgrimages embarked on by the stool, while Nana Yaa Afra II was introduced as the new Queenmother of the stool.
Nana Amokwa II said the festival marked 10 years since he ascended the stool.
He said festivals were important in the traditional calendar of Damang, since it brought about unity, and that when he assumed the stool as a Chief, he realised that Damang was a cosmopolitan area, so he extended invitations to all tribes the various for a meeting.
At the meeting, he proposed that every tribe should install a chief and queenmother for a royal stool in the palace.
This was adhered to and, to date, every tribe has its chief and queenmother.
He said the installation of chiefs from every tribe had deepened the peace and unity the community enjoyed, and named the tribes as Nzema, Ewe, Fante, and Ashanti amongst others, and were tribes were present at the grand durbar of chiefs.
Nana Amoakwa also used the occasion to address and highlight the Damang 2025 plan, which centered on sanitation, health and education.
Mr. Alfred Baku, Executive Vice President of Goldfields West Africa, was the Special Guest of Honour.
Addressing the durbar, he said it was refreshing that the festival of Damang had been revived. “This revival will forever remain in the hearts of the people of Damang.”
The Apasato festival traced the rich history of the people from the days of Ama Saa and Atta Kwadwo through to the peaceful reign of Nana Anoakwa I, and to the remarkable achievements of Nana Amoakwa III and his right hand man, the Abakomahene.