FEATURE: The sanctity of the “Red Sea” at Agortime Kpetoe
|@ the Kente festival|| |
“Water…, it is a source of beauty, wonder and relaxation and refreshment. Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power. It is no accident that people chose places associated with water for holidays, in order to renew and regenerate themselves.” wrote Archbishop Renato R. Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the occasion of the third World Water Forum (Kyoto, 16th-23rd March 2003).
It is the magnetic force of water that attracted early settlers in distant times to choose where to make their homes, no wonder the chiefs and people of Agortime Traditional Area have kept the tradition of fetching freshwater from Tordze, their “Red Sea” as an expression of hospitality towards tourists, who flocked Kpetoe to witness the annual Agbamevorza (Kente) Festival of the Traditional Area.
This is the water all tourists and visitors are expected to use in washing their feet upon entering the community for the Festival.
The grandeur associated with this aspect of the Festival is better seen than described in words.
It is usually a mini climax to the Festival and a great spectacle for local and foreign tourists including indigenes of the area.
By 1600 hours, the whole community having returned from the firing of muskets at Afegame, their ancestral home, descends to the “Red Sea”- a spiritual and a historical river in the Traditional Area for the event.
The River is said to have existed at the beginning of time and is believed to have healing and cleansing powers and never dries up. It used to be the sole source of drinking water for the people until recently.
The “Red Sea” also gets a lot of patronage from some churches in the Volta Region as a baptismal trough perhaps because of its acclaimed healing and cleansing powers.
The River is one of the major side attractions during the Agbamevorza (Kente) Festival.
Few minutes after 1600 hours, young girls and some middle aged women numbering about 200 dressed in quality, rich and varied Kente cloths walk to the river bare footed with clay pots.
The maidens are taken through some rituals amidst singing of traditional songs. They are purified and fortified to be able to carry the clay pots perched delicately on their heads to the Paramount Chief (Konor’s) Palace without supporting them with their hands.
No maiden in her menstrual period is qualified to be among those maidens as it is believed that the God would seize the pot of any girl, who defied this injunction.
Prayers are said through the Ancestors to God for more water to flow into the River for a successful Festival and invocations are made for the renewal of the cleansing and healing powers of the River.
The young girls then file in a long line after the rituals for the two-hour journey from the River to the Palace.
The maidens walk royally through the principal streets of Kpetoe, the District Capital of Adaklu-Anyigbe before finally meandering majestically into the Palace where the water is poured into a very large pot amidst traditional drumming.
At this year’s Festival, Madam Juliana Azumah Mensah, Minister of Women and Children Affairs and Member of Parliament of the Area, led the maidens on the journey with the pot of freshwater to the Konor’s Palace amidst singing of traditional songs - what a spectacle it was!
Tourists from all walks of life including some journalists washed their feet with the cool and soothing water from the River. Some washed their faces, their legs up to the knee level with others taking sips of the water christened by some locals as “water of life”.
Some tourists sought permission and were allowed to fill some bottles with the water to take away.
Nene Nuer Keteku III, Konor of Agotime Traditional Area, said the significance of the event was to give a warm welcome to all visitors to the Community and to wish them a peaceful and a happy stay during the Festival.
Indeed, the celebration was peaceful, very successful and eventful.
Remember, water is a universal tonic of life its sanctity is accepted by all faiths. It is in fact in the midst of water that dry land was made to appear, it was the womb that held, nurtured and gave birth to mother earth.
Come over to Agotime Kpetoe in Volta region of Ghana for the Agbamevorza next year and witness the adoration of Tordze, the “Red Sea” that cleanses and heals.
Written By Anthony Bells Kafui Kanyi