By Samuel Duodu, Techiman.
THIS year’s ‘Apoo’ festival of the chiefs and people of the Techiman Traditional Area in the Brong Ahafo Region would be used to initiate the construction of an ultra modern cultural centre to help protect, promote and preserve the cultural heritage and the identity of the people of the area.
The cultural centre, which would have a museum, theatre, conference room, artisans’ village, an auditorium, open space, internet café and administrative block and a restaurant would be undertaken by the Techiman Traditional Council in conjunction with the University of Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Michigan and the Michigan State University both in the United State of America (USA).
According to the Adontenhene of the Techiman Traditional Area, Nana Asare Twi Brempong II, who is also a member of the ‘Apoo’ Festival Planning Committee, the centre would be used for the preservation and conservation of the cultural heritage of Techiman.
He stated that the centre would also educate other residents of the traditional area who hail from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to educate them on the need to respect each other’s culture, and also help erase the negative perceptions that some people held about the culture of the area.
Nana Twi Brempong said this year’s ‘Apoo’ festival began on April 11, 2009, and it would end on May 11, 2009, on the theme “Our Culture, Our Heritage: the Tool for Social Integration” and the high point of the festival would be a colourful grand durbar of the chiefs and people of Techiman which would be held on May 1, 2009.
He explained that this year’s festival is being used to rally all citizens of Techiman both home and abroad for the development of the area, adding that the festival would also be marked with a Miss Apoo pageant.
Nana Twi Brempong who gave a brief history about the ‘Apoo’ festival said it began during the reign of Nana Kwakye Ameyaw who was an authoritarian and, therefore, the people of Techiman at that time could not express their views freely on what was happening.
He noted that the people were peeved during that period but could express their views.
Since the people could also not let them those in authority account for their stewardship, they consulted the gods of the area who asked them to set aside some days for them to come out and say what was on their chest more especially about the traditional authorities at that time.
During the period of “Apoo” it was agreed that one could not be held responsible for what he or she said.
The people would say “Mereko po me haw” which literally meant “I am going to say what was on my chest” and this was how the “Apoo” festival came into existence.
Nana Twi Brempong said the festival was not only about the people getting out what was on their chest about traditional authorities but also all who were in leadership positions in the traditional area at
He said the “Apoo” was also used to recognise those in society who had distinguished themselves or done something good for the society.
The Adontenhene said the “Apoo” is also used to promote social interaction as well as settle family disputes among citizens of the area. It is also it which citizens both home and abroad come together to undertake community projects.
He said Nananom also pour libation during that period to ask for prosperity, peace and success..
Nana Twi Brempong said the significance of the festival among others are to measure the people in authority and also to enable them give account of their stewardship, protect and preserve their cultural identity as a people as well as promote the well being of the people.
He said this year’s festival is focusing on things that would help fight poverty, illiteracy and ignorance in the society.
Nana Twi Brempong mentioned one of the highlights of the festival, which begins on April 11, 2009 as ‘Hyereko’ (Collection of white clay). This is when white clay collected from the Aponkosu River, is used to decorate the shrines in the traditional area, while the priests/priestesses also used the clay when they are possessed by spirits.