The Tuafo Number 1 Asafo Company emerged winners of this year’s deer hunting race, which climaxes the 2023 Aboakyer Festival of the chiefs and people of Effutu in Winneba, on Saturday.
The traditional warriors arrived at 10:10 hours, with the live animal at the durbar grounds, where hundreds of highly expectant indigenes and visitors had gathered.
The arrival of the heroes was met with spontaneous jubilation ofscreaming, singing, applauding and praising.
After parading the animal aloft the durbar grounds for about 15 minutes, it was presented to Neenyi Ghartey VII, the Paramount Chief of the Effutu Traditional Area, who stepped on it three times as a sign of acceptance.
The second group, Dentsefo Number 2 Asafo Company, also arrived later with a catch around 11:20 hours but because the first one had already been accepted by the chief, they only showed it to the gathering before parading through the principal streets of the town.
The week-long festival is celebrated annually to appease the main deity of the Effutu State, Penkye Otu.
Traditionally, sacrifices offered to the gods ward off evil from the town and attract blessings of bounty harvest.
Earlier, there was a majestic procession of chiefs of the traditional area who were adorned in colourful kente cloths and golden regalia.
They were warmly received by their subjects with cheers.
The Effutu, mark Aboakyer, which literally means the capture of a live animal in Fante, as a sacrifice to their god, Penkye Otu, in appreciation of their safe migration from the ancient western Sudan Empire to their present home, Winneba.
Originally, their priest instructed them on behalf of Penkye Otu, to offer a young member of the Royal Family, as an annual sacrifice.
The people, however, pleaded with Penkye Otu for an animal sacrifice, hence it was substituted for a wild cat, which was to be brought alive and beheaded before the god.
Following the many loss of lives during the hunt and capture, they made another appeal and the god accepted a deer.
Consequently, on the first Saturday of May, the two Asafo companies, using only sticks and clubs, undertake separate expeditions to catch a live deer to present to the Omanhen.
The first company to present the deer is declared the winner.
On the eve of expeditions, the Asafo companies perform rituals for a successful outcome.
The durbar was graced by Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, the Central Regional Minister, Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, the Minister for Chieftaincy, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, members of the diplomatic community, among many other dignitaries.