Hogbetsotso: The festival of exodus
Hogbetsotso is arguably the biggest festival in the Volta Region of Ghana, celebrated by a majority of the towns and people in the region. Some major towns that celebrate the festival include Keta, Alakple, Atiavi, Konu, Kedzi, Abor, Tsito and Atiavi. All of whom are major Anlo towns in the region.
The festival commemorates on the first Saturday of the month of November every year, to remember and celebrate the exodus of the Anlo people from Notse in Togo to their present location.
History of the Festival
According to the oral tradition, the people of Anlo once lived in Notse, a town in present day Togo. During their time in Notse, the Anlo people went through maltreatment and were subjected to slavery under the Notse chief known as King Agorkoli, mainly because they were the minority group in the town.
After decades of suffering under the tyrannical rule of Agorkoli, they decided to escape. This they started by regularly pouring water into the mud wall that surrounded the town. With time the wall became very soft, enabling them to break through it and escape from the town. The Journey which is believed to have taken them years finally resulted in their arrival in their present day home in Volta region, Ghana. It is from this history that the name Hogbetsotso (Ewe language which translates into ‘Coming from Notse’) was derived.
The festival serves as a time for sober reflection, for the chiefs and people of Anlo to be reminded of their difficult journey from Notse and how peaceful coexistence and unity among them made their journey and escape from Notse possible.
Pouring of libation, cleansing of stools, and general cleaning of the communities are some of the major activities that take place in the participating communities.
The festival, like most traditional festivals in Ghana, ends in a Durbar where the chiefs use the opportunity to remind the people of Anlo to live in peace and harmony just like their ancestors did. The event ends with drumming, traditional dancing and merry making.