Kundum (famine could not overcome us), a harvest and religious festival, is celebrated by the Ahantas of Ghana. People of the Ahanta ethnic group reside in the western region of Ghana. It is believed that the Kundum festival was first celebrated in the 16th century through the initiative of Akpoley, a rather adventurous farmer. Legend has it that one day, Akpoley decided to go hunting for food. Akpoley loved the forest as he believed it to be filled with mystery and knowledge – knowledge that could be tapped into if only one was open to it.
On a beautiful, serene day , in the middle of a thick forest not far from his village, Akpoley opened himself to the magical whispers of the forest. As he made his way through the dense forest, he came upon a sight that astounded him. The scene in front of him was unusual and unlike anything he had ever seen before. Intrigued, he decided to inch closer. He moved at a slow pace and very carefully since he did not want his presence to be noted.
Hiding behind a tree, he watched, fascinated, as dwarves danced energetically to sounds of drums and enchanting melody. After some time had elapsed, the music and dancing ceased followed by the disappearance of the dwarves. Akpoley made up his mind to spend the night in the forest since it was already late. The following day, around noon, the dwarves appeared again and began their dance. So moved was he by their dance that he decided to learn it. Akpoley figured that by learning it, he will be in a position to teach the dance to inhabitants of his village. He listened to the rhythm of the music and observed the movements of the dwarves. Akpoley followed this schedule for about a month. By then, he had mastered the legendary kundum dance. Thereafter, he returned to the village, narrated his encounter and taught the Kundum dance to the inhabitants of the village.
Photo Credit : BuzzGhana
Thus, it seems Akpoley initiated the kundum festival. It is an annual festival that is celebrated between August and November by the Ahantas and other inhabitants of the Western region. The week long festivities begins on a sunday and is marked by drumming at specific locations on the town’s outskirts. Monday rolls in with the lighting of the Kundum fire in the chief’s palace. Drumming is temporarily put on hold on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday are marked by singing, drumming, dancing and the usual festivities that accompany festivals. For the remaining days, ritual and cleansing activities are carried out. The festival is concluded by the performance of the legendary Kundum dance.
The celebration of this festival serves an important function among the Ahantas of modern day Ghana. For instance, it provides an avenue for conflict resolution by the Chief and his advisors among disputing parties . It is also deemed as an apt time for planning developmental projects. Finally, it serves as a perfect medium for reuniting returning members of the community. As is often the case with festivals, people wear their best outfits and often make fashion statements on this day.
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Written By : Sherita N Brace
– The Kundum Festival in Ghana – jstor . Retrieved June 12th from https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.5325/jafrireli.3.4.0343.pdf