The Bakatue Festival which means “draining of a lagoon” is celebrated by the chiefs and peoples of Elmina in the Central Region of Ghana on the first Tuesday in the month of July every year.
In the six weeks before the festival, fishing in the lagoon was banned so the Festival is a celebration to lift that ban and mark the beginning of the new fishing season in Elmina.
Tuesday was chosen because it is regarded locally as the day for the sea god and generally fisherman do not go fishing in honour of the sea god.
During the first week of July when the festival commences, fishermen are barred from going to the sea to fish as a sign of paying homage to the sea gods.
Members of the Elmina royal family ride in decorated palanquins and participate in a royal procession prior to offering food of mashed yam, egg and red oil to Nana Brenya, the river god of Elmina.
After the procession, there is a colourful durbar held by the chief and various dignitaries.
The durbar is followed by another procession to the Brenya Lagoon where the High Priest casts a net into the lagoon three times to signify the end of the fishing season as well as an end to the ban on funerals, social activities, noise making and drumming.
Any fish caught by the High Priest’s net is offered to the gods as thanksgiving for the coming harvest.
The party and carnival then begins.
The women of Elmina then take a boat ride in the lagoon with beautiful Kente fabrics and local headgear. The royal procession, with chiefs holding their staffs, chiefs underneath ceremonial umbrellas and in decorated palanquins, then lead the way to the Chief’s palace, amidst traditional music and revelry to mark the end of the festival.
With lots of food, great music, fun activities and lively bodies, this is the place to be each July.
How to get to the festival ground