For more than a century and half, the people of Edina have celebrated Bakatue Festival. The celebration is to invoke the deity Nana Benya and to ensure the continuous protection of the state and its people.
Bakatue is more than a festival, it is the very embodiment of the people of Elmina it holds their history culture and heritage. During this time the true meaning of being an Elminian is brought to bare through the abundant display of the rich culture and history of the people. Bakatue is about fostering unity, bonding and giving thanks to God the creator, our ancestors and to offer sacrifices to appease souls of the departed who the living still count on for blessings and to chat a path to the future.
The Bakatue History
Tradition has preserved for Edinaman and its generations a marvelously rich annual festival which is second to none, captioned “Bakatue”. This festival has remained much treasured and constitutes the priceless cultural heritage of the people of Edinaman.
Bakatue is a festival of the people of Elmina township and its traditional area, a geographical stool land more appropriately referred to as “EDINAMAN”.
For a century and half, the people of Edinaman have celebrated Bakatue Festival. Bakatue falls on the first Tuesday of July (the month of Ayewoho) each year.
“Bakatue” translated means “the opening of the lagoon” or the “Draining of the Lagoon”. It is celebrated to invoke the deity, Nana Benya’s continuous protection of the state and its people.
The founder of Amankwakrom, Kwa Amankwa is migrated from the Savana Based Walata Empire, settled at Techiman for some time, moved to Eguafo and thence to Elmina, where in search of drinking water and accidentally discovered a streamlet, exclaiming “Be-enya which expression means” I have found or got”.
To commemorate the discovery, a hut was erected where the emigrants refreshed. Kwa Amankwa bowed and worshipped and in the solemn silence there suddenly appeared before him a god animate of the Lagoon now called river Benya. The self-manifesting deity made human company with Amankwa for eight days, a period at the expiration of which a covenant was concluded between man and god.
The sayings of the covenant are:
- That a Shrine was to be constructed by Amankwa in honour of Nana Benya which was to be the consecrated abode of the tutelary deity and from which Nana Benya would be invoked in times of need.
- That schedule was to be worked out from the phases of the moon which stipulated that the first Tuesday of the month of July of each calendar year shall be observed as a festival day in commemoration of this man-deity meeting.
- That the Omanhen, Divisional Chiefs, Sub Chiefs, stool holders, Asafo elders Priests and Priestesses and the entire citizenry would present the sacred food (mixture of yam, palm oil and eggs) to the god of the River on the founder’s day.
Circumstances beyond control has brought about a change of location of the shrine to the spot where it stands at present, but the god is still very much alive and vibrant with the terms of the covenant “that in this shrine I shall meet you, at least once a year and there, you can invoke me in times of need”.
This once a year meeting has withstood the test of time and though Benya has been met and consulted without ceremony in times of need, whenever this meeting is executed with ceremony, the result is the Bakatue Festival. There have been occasions when the usual funfair has not accompanied this ritualistic meeting. At such times such as during war, civil strife or chieftaincy disputes, the meeting has been restricted to only the high-priest (Benya Komfo) and his immediate deputies ‘as Well as “Birifikyewfo” on behalf of or with the reigning monarch or the regent as the case might be.