Odambea is a festival in Nkusukum Traditional Area in Central Region, Ghana, which is celebrated every year in the end of August. The last Saturday in August is the highlight of the festival which begins on Monday before that Saturday. Odambea reminds of the Fante migration from the Tekyiman area to Mankessim and further. The parades strengthen the role of Akan Chieftaincy (Ghana).
The Fante Migration
Around 1300, the Fante had separated from the rest of the Akan people and settled in Mankessim. They came from Tekyiman, today Brong-Ahafo-Region. It is uncertain how long the Akan settled in Tekyiman and where they had come from before. From Tekyiman to the coast, there were many different migration movements throughout the centuries.
From Mankessim, the Fante spread to different parts of today's Central Region, defeated the peoples they found there and settled. Mankessim became seat of the Omanhene (Paramount Chief) of Nkusukum. Today, Mankessim is split into two paramountcies: The Omanhene of Mankessim Traditional Area has his seat in Mankessim. Nkusukum Amanase-Mankessim (also part of the town of Mankessim, market area), is seat of the Nkusukum Obaatan (chief in a high position). The seat of the Nkusukum Omanhene had been transferred to Yamoransa.
The festival was first celebrated 200 years ago but had become meaningless in the 20th century. Nana Essandoh VII who was installed as Omanhene in the 1970ies, revived Odambea.
During the festival week, Omanhene with nananom (chiefs) and citizens visits different historical places. In each of these places, the guests are welcomed and a sacrifice takes place. There is drumming and dancing, ceremonial gun fire and Asafo (traditional civil defense unit) singing.
From Monday until Friday, everyone is dressed in black and red because they are mourning over the ancestors who had suffered so much hardship during the migration. On Saturday, the arrival of the ancestors is celebrated in Saltpond, and people are wearing splendid dresses. On Sunday, during the ecumenical church, people wear the usual Sunday dress.