The change of the name of the popular Kundum Festival to Kuntum has angered the Concerned Citizens of Ahanta.
The pressure group has, therefore, threatened to take legal action to stop this year’s celebration if their concerns are ignored.
In a strongly-worded statement issued and signed by Justice Baidoo, Ignatius Yankey, and Abraham Yalley, all executives of the group, and copied to all the traditional rulers in Ahanta land, they warned against any attempt to dilute the cultural values of Ahanta.
“Our attention has been drawn to some photos in circulation on social and mainstream media purporting to be from the people of Essikado Traditional area – a sub-set Paramountcy under the Ahanta state – announcing the celebration of the annual Kundum festival in Essikado.
“Whiles we are happy and commend efforts by Paramountcies like Essikado, led by the respected Nana Kobina Nketsia V to keep Ahanta heritage alive by celebrating this festival when others have fallen behind, we are appalled by attempts – deliberate or otherwise – to alter or adulterate aspects of our rich culture and the symbols that represent us”.
The group further stated that “We have noted that on the said picture, the name of the festival is spelt “KUNTUM” instead of “KUNDUM” indicating the name of the festival be mentioned in Fanti. Also, the type of dance portrayed in the photo is that of ‘ADOWA’, the traditional dance of the Asante people, rather than ‘ABISAA’ which is the traditional dance of the Ahanta people that goes with the Kundum festival.
“We wish we could take this to be a genuine error that anyone could have made. But, unfortunately, we have a litany of reasons to also believe this is part of a grand agenda – deliberate or otherwise – to further dominate our culture and further inflict on us the pervasive Fanti socio-cultural hegemony that has been foisted on we people of Ahanta extraction for nearly two centuries now.
“For the avoidance of doubt, KUMDUM is the Ahanta festival of harvest to mark the end of the farming season in August- September.
“The longer form of the phrase written in Ahanta is KUNDU WO MI, which translates to FILL YOUR STOMACH signifying an end to hunger and a call on the people to eat as much as they can in the bumper harvest season as another dry season beacons.
“For an outsider, who has no background to this, our call may come off as petty and tribalistic but nothing could be further away from the reality. For us, this is the last straw that would break the camel’s back.
“The Kundum Festival is probably the last symbol of community in which we the Ahanta people take common pride and so to change the name to suit ‘visitors’ on our land is the highest level of insult. We are proud that our land- including Sekondi-Takoradi, our two major cities became the starting point of Ghana’s industrialisation”.
Tracing the historical underpinnings to back their claims, the group explained in the statement “With the railways, ports and modern day commerce kicking off in the port city of Takoradi, with the opening of the Takoradi harbour in 1928 and the beginning of Ghana railways in 1889, Ahantaland attracted many job-seekers who mainly came from what is now the Central region.
“Today, every Ahanta town or village has a Fanti name. The Ahanta people have for years suffered systemic discrimination, endured poverty and underdevelopment, ethnic abuse, and an apartheid system of some sorts -in part- because of this socio-cultural order.
“Enough is enough! This is a century-old socio-cultural hegemony that has been left unchecked because the people who should do so are cowed into submission by their lack of education and enlightenment, poverty and complex of inferiority.
“We won’t sit aloof to watch our cultural identity taken from us with such gross impunity and to be able to do that, we are developing human capacity to challenge the status quo.
“We are by this statement calling on the people of Essikado, led by the respected Nana Kobina Nketsia V, to change the name they intend giving to this important festival and all the symbolism that they portray with it. “We may be forced to take further action, including a court injunction, to stop the celebration from going ahead if we are ignored again. We are calling on Western regional house of chiefs to take up the matter and ensure that the right thing is done”.