As the name suggests, this festival is held in honor of the humble yam - a tasty vegetable and one of Ghana’s top exports.
Second only to Nigeria in terms of the world’s biggest yam producers, Ghana has cultivated this important vegetable for centuries, if not longer; yam farming is intensive but rewarding work - the yam export industry is worth $20 million to Ghana’s economy.
The Fofie Yam Festival is a joyful event that gives thanks for the harvest and God’s ongoing protection; locals also use the event to invoke further blessings and guidance for the year ahead. To find out more about Fofie Yam Festival and how the event is celebrated, keep reading.
How is Fofie Yam Festival celebrated?
The Fofie Yam Festival is celebrated throughout the Techiman traditional area by the chiefs and people of the region. Fofie is an Akan word for Friday; the celebration is traditionally held on this day and often through Saturday and for a number of days either side. Because Fridays and Saturdays are believed to be auspicious for state ceremonies, these days are when the festivities reach their peak.
During the festival, music and dancing are key features; drumming is carried out by many of the locals, to which dancing is performed, often in public spaces where crowds look on and cheer. The atmosphere is one of joy and energy as everyone heads out into the streets to celebrate.
Locals get dressed in their best outfits to mark the event - many people wear clothing made from traditional Kente cloth, and gather in the main parts of town to greet their chiefs. The chiefs are either carried through the crowds or process on foot to greet the highest chief of the area.
The event is one of community in which the people of the Techiman area express their gratitude for the harvest and look forward to what the year ahead will hold.
Fofie Yam Festival traditions
It is traditional at this time of year for families to come together and celebrate the harvest. Many Ghanaians who have moved away from the Techiman area will return to mark this special celebration with their loved ones and enjoy a family meal together.
As well as meals served at home, there are food stalls to browse wherever there are celebrations taking place - look out for the yam dishes on the menu to taste this famous export in a variety of guises!
It is customary for a theme to be chosen for the Fofie Yam Festival and speeches are typically given by the main chiefs from the region in accordance with the chosen subject. The chief will usually make use of this time to unite the local people, give thanks for the growing economy and also to outline any concerns within the region that need addressing. During the speech, he may also make requests of the government to fulfil any outstanding needs in the area.
After the main address, the chiefs will traditionally meet with people from the Techiman region as well as dignitaries who travel in from across the country for the event. Both visitors and local businesses often make donations at this time.
Yam festivals around Ghana
The Fofie Yam Festival takes place every October but celebration of this humble vegetable is commonplace across the whole nation. In September, for example, the Volta region holds its own festival to thank God for a bumper harvest and an abundance of yams. Traditionally, the vegetable is boiled, mashed and offered up to gods and ancestors before being offered to living family members.
An Ashanti celebration also takes place at this time of year, usually between September and December, in which a national holiday is held over five days to mark the first harvest of the yams and herald the onset of the monsoon season. During the festival, music and dance play a key role, and ceremonial stools are cleansed by the king.
In all instances, the harvest festivals are held around the autumn period to give thanks to God for fruitful crops, bring families and communities together in celebration and to note the economic significance of these crops within the regions of Ghana.
If you’ve planning a volunteer vacation to Ghana this October, don’t miss paying a visit to the Fofie Yam Festival to experience authentic Ghanaian culture and witness traditional dancing, meal preparation and more. You can learn more about what to expect when you volunteer in Ghana by downloading our country guide - click here to get your free copy.