Kwahu Easter in a Covid-19 era

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It is an ever-inspiring breeze on the Kwahu Ridge all year round, and even more so during Easter when people from all walks of life and nationalities throng here to celebrate the long holiday.

With activities ranging from paragliding, hiking, carnivals and street jams, the indigenes, that is the Kwahu people themselves celebrate it as a homecoming event whilst for holiday revellers, it is purely a time to party, wind down and take in the beautiful scenery, the amazing weather, enjoy unique and authentic tasting cuisine as well as explore the ridges, valleys, caves, and the other wonders of nature that Kwahu has.

During these times, human and vehicular traffic is at a perpetual standstill stretching from as far as the base of the Kwahu hills-Nkawkaw, and through the roads leading up to the various towns on the hills. With the intention to have the time of their lives, it is not uncommon to see some revellers abandon their vehicles in the gridlock and start their mini parties by the roadside with “sittings” at the various pubs and spots strewn along the main road.

In fact, for the three or so days of the Easter period, one may not be able to distinguish between night and day save for the change in weather. It is a constant sea of parties and carnivals organised by various groups, companies, media houses, and associations all bent on making the most out of their time there by achieving their goal- be it to make money, socialise, identify business opportunities, reunite with family and friends, or perhaps even get a life partner. And for the businesses already set up in Kwahu, there is certainly no “cocoa season” better than this time of year and they surely do look forward to it year after year.

And oh, one cannot miss the signature tagline of “Kwahu oooo Kwahu …” which has come to be associated with the celebration and which actually starts being promoted in various media houses across the country, especially in the capital, Accra, a month or two before the Easter month.

Truth is, one will not be wrong at all to say that the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Christ has benefitted the Kwahu people more than any other tribe or group in Ghana (not even the Jews). It is the reason that Easter has become synonymous with Kwahu and Kwahu synonymous with Easter.

Then 2020 Came and with it was Covid-19

The weather on the Kwahu mountains was as inspiring and inviting as ever, certainly waiting for revellers to experience its goodness and authenticity.  But this was not to be following the declaration by the World Health Organization of the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant lockdowns all across the world. This resulted in anxiety and doubts as to whether the biggest event on the Ghanaian calendar-the Kwahu Easter festivities will come on as usual.  

Also, conspicuously missing was the usual shouts of “Kwahu ooo Kwahu, Kwahu ooo Kwahu.” which would normally have been blaring very loudly on radio stations, especially Adom FM and Agoo FM in anticipation of all that would happen on the mountain top. 

Well, at the end of the day, as many of us are aware, the Easter celebrations was cancelled last year. As disappointing and sad as it was, it was also a good move by the kwahuhene and his elders, because of course, in the end having life post-covid means many more Easter celebrations to revel in.

The streets of Kwahu were as silent as a cemetery during the entire Easter period, and if a pin has so much as dropped on it, it would have been heard beyond the boundaries of Kwahu. It was unusual for an Easter but also much like a normal day usually is for those that live there all year round.

Economic activity associated with the period was almost non-existent, selling and buying wasn’t as vibrant as it was in previous years. The District assemblies couldn’t raise their targeted revenues for the period. Radio stations also lost out on monies they would’ve raked in from the numerous event announcements, Live Presenter Mentions (LPMs) and jingles. And as for the drinking spots, night clubs, restaurants and other social centres, the least said about their predicament the better, they were virtually empty.

As I type this article on this day-Thursday, 18th March 2021, am scratching my head in utter disappointment, the reason being an announcement by the Kwahuman Traditional Council that yet again, there will be no Easter Celebrations because of course, Covid-19 is still very much present and continues to take lives so there is the need to protect ourselves by observing all the protocols, especially, that of avoiding large crowds and social distancing.

Hopefully, in 2022, Kwahu Easter will be back with a deafening bang- bigger and better than all the previous years combined, because remember, it is already a 2-year Easter Celebration drought as of now. But no need to get all gloomy and sad about it, let me whet your appetite by walking with you, literally, through the Easter celebrations and all the happenings so you know what to expect and more importantly how to prepare adequately for it next year. 

Highlights of the Kwahu Easter Celebration

The Easter programme starts with the on-the-road “Akwaaba Night” which is Hosted by Linda Dor Rest Stop at Bunsu junction on the Easter Thursday Night till daybreak. This features up and coming artistes as well as some popular ones. The whole idea is to give people an indication of what to expect as they take a break there, on their journey to Kwahu to either eat, drink, use the restroom or simply to stretch their limbs.

From here, most revellers pumped, and charged up for all the excitement ahead continue their journey, a journey that allows them to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way as the gridlock will not allow drivers to speed anyways even if they so wish. In fact, one can do at least some 3 hours commuting from just Nkawkaw (the main town before Kwahu) to the mountaintop, a distance which can be done in less than 20mins on a normal day. It is the reason some people abandon their vehicles and party away till such a time that it seems ok to them to journey on to their destination.

On Easter Friday mornings there is a special welcome programme hosted by Kwahuhene at Abene with Chiefs and prominent Kwahus paying homage to the Chiefs. Kwahu citizens all around the globe come home to pay homage to our very respected Chiefs and elders. Libations are poured to plead with our heritage forebearers and ancestors to intercede on our behalf. Various projects initiated and supervised by Chiefs and residents are formerly opened or sods are cut to commence such. Disputes are settled and the doors are opened for a boom in economic activities.

Visit to the numerous beautiful tourist sites in Kwahu is the next activity for hundreds of people on the Friday Afternoon. These sites includes but not limited to The Paragliding Site [Odwen-Anoma mountains, Atibie-Kwahu], Buruku  Rocks & Shrine, Butuase Waterfalls and the Roman Catholic Grotto [Kwahu-Tafo], Jay’s lodge provides the eight hundred and eighty eight [888] steps to climb the Obo Plateau and do the canopy walk and fly on the Zip line [Obo-Kwahu], The Mysterious Caves [Twenedurase], The Stone Age Park [Abetifi-Kwahu], Canoe ride on the Afram River [Adawso], The Oku Falls [Bukuruwa] and many others.

It’s a party all night long on Friday Nights. There are various street carnivals and jams at every nook and cranny. All streets on the mountaintop-Obomeng, Obo, Mpraeso, Bepong, Tafo, Abetifi and Nkwatia are packed and jammed with people. Corporate bodies climb up the ridge to also market their products and services as well as sponsor many of these activities.  Musical platforms are mounted on the streets, makeshift discos and pubs also spring up almost everywhere and these hosts popular Ghanaian Music Stars like Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, SARK and others who normally perform free in the open space for an excited and enthusiastic audience, these events run non-stop from Friday night to Sunday night.

In the elite and prestigious hotels like Rock City-the biggest hotel in Africa, Nyarkoah ba Nyarko, Wags, Modak etc, the excitement is at a constant crescendo. Exclusive and high-level programmes are held for the accomplished and wealthy business sons and daughters of Kwahuman along with their friends, acquaintances, and business partners from overseas and other parts of the country. Here, equally seasoned musicians and entertainers like kojo Antwi, Daddy Lumba and Amakye Dede are on the bill and never disappoint. 

The period is also used as a reunion for families as they meet to share their successes and challenges. Marriages are contracted and divorces are also sealed and stamped in some homes. Broken homes are mended, and some families are separated forever. The good,the bad, and the ugly are seen during this period.

Sporting activities especially football galas are organized by institutions and drink distilling companies between the major communities. These activities are all organized to foster unity and teamwork amongst the various towns. There is also the popular paragliding event which is normally patronised by the brave at heart. There is never a dull moment at the mountaintop and so much to see at this time of year as the whole of Ghana can be said to be there at that time.

And let me add that hotels are fully booked around this time, in some cases, months ahead of the Easter period as it is always a first come first serve scenario even with the obvious upward adjustment in prices. Townsfolk also cash in by offering their homes as “hotels”. So that is a tip for you when next you are planning your trip to Kwahu for the Easter period.

Easter 2020 was quiet, very quiet, but one thing that was not missed was the weather. Just like it happens on Easter Fridays, there were very strong winds that pushed down banners, plantain and banana trees and anything in its sight that it could uproot. So, this year as well, it is the only “event” we are looking forward to in Kwahu since the ban is still in place. 

But hopefully next year- now, the thought alone of it gets me very excited because Ghana has started vaccination for Covid already with some 20million people expected to be vaccinated by year end-the world would’ve have opened up to embrace the normal and Easter in Kwahu will be back like it never stopped with twice the excitement and everything good that the period has been come to be associated with.

I have already started preparing, what about you? See you on the mountaintop in 2022, fingers crossed. But in the meantime, though, do not forgot to stay safe-mask up and observe all the protocols so our world will be normal again. Until then, its “Kwahu ooooo Kwahu” from me.

Kwasi Gyimah: The writer is a member of the Kwahu Professionals Network and a royal from Kwahu Tafo. He works with the National Health Insurance Authority and also serves as the Operations Manager of iCare [Ninajali] Africa. He has lived and worked in Kwahu for the past 16 years and is certainly a walking encyclopedia and your go-to person for everything Kwahu.

Email:    Facebook: Kwasi Gyimah     Instagram: ispiritplusgh

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