past over 2 years ago

Fri, Dec 18. 10:00AM - 10:00PM

Sandema Abiliyeri, Upper East, Ghana Sandema Abiliyeri, Ghana

Event Details

"The story of Feok is of great historical significance as it affects the destinies of millions of people not only in Ghana but also across the African Continent and in the diaspora. It is on this score that the event cannot be allowed to pass without some reflection. Normally, the festival is celebrated among the Builsa around the third week of December each year, to commemorate the defeat of Zambarima slave raiders led by a man named Babatu by the ancestors of Builsa in the 1880s.

By simple translation, “Feok” in the local Buli dialect, means abundance of food. In this context, then, the festival becomes one of thanks-giving by which the people of the area express thanks to God, their ancestors and the earth shrines for seeing them through another year and a successful farming season.

The climax of the festival is a public gathering bringing together chiefs, war dancers, and singing groups from the villages in the Builsa area. The festival commences with the pouring of libation to invoke the ancestors and shrines of the land for an uneventful and peaceful celebration.

This is followed by speeches by the Paramount Chief and key dignitaries present, interspersed by a variety of musical performances. War dancers representing various villages are given the floor to perform at this stage. Armed with shields, spears, short axes, bows and arrows, they relive battle scenes from yester-year. Scenes of resistance and the ultimate defeat of the marauding warriors of Babatu.

Babatu stands out for his prolonged career in slave raids and his prominent role in the history of slavery in the Northern Territories. Historical sources relate that he originally hailed from Indunga in present day Niger. Recruiting Hausa, Fulani, Mossi and Grunshie fighters, he embarked on a conquering spree. The area stretching from Ouagadougou in the north to the present day Upper East and even parts of the Northern Region of Ghana fell under his sword.

The tide, however, turned against him when he entered Builsaland. He and his warriors suffered a decisive defeat in the hands of the Builsa in the Battle of Fiisa, bringing to an end his two-decade career. (Fiisa is the name of a section of Sandema where the battle was fought).

Babatu fled the Builsa area following this defeat, and later took refuge at Yendi in the Northern Region, where he eventually died. Thus ended the life of the notorious Zabarima slave raider whose name became synonymous with the human trade in the Northern Territories.

Feok has become the most significant event in the Builsa area in recent times, giving the people a true sense of identity and solidarity. This is in direct contrast to what pertained in the early years of the Builsa which were characterised by mistrust, petty rivalry and intra-clan conflicts (a situation that rendered them weak, vulnerable and easy prey for slave raiders).

It has become a rallying point, an occasion that brings the people of Builsa together, providing them with a forum to express their collective view on important issues as embodied in the address often delivered by the Sandem-Nab. “When we meet each year to remind ourselves of the courage and bravery of our ancestors, we are at the same time drawing upon our spiritual and physical strengths to meet modern challenges that have replaced slavery,” declared the aged and venerable Sandem-Nab Ayieta Azantilow at the recent Feok celebration last month. He said, “In place of Babatu and Samori, we have the twin brothers of HIV/AIDS and underdevelopment,” adding that the challenges facing Builsa today are more complex than marauding slave raiders.

The impact of Feok is not confined to natives of Builsa alone. Outsiders too view it as an event that connects them to the past. African-Americans, for example, regard it as an occasion that enables them to come to terms with history and to identify more easily with their African origins.

To the increasing number of them who attend the festival each year, Feok depicts victory over the collaborators of slave merchants. It is in deed a story of emancipation.

From palace sources, a growing number of local scholars and expatriates have been interviewing the Paramount Chief and prominent elders in Sandema about the festival in recent times, which lends credence to the assertion that Feok is rapidly catching the attention of the larger world public. Which brings to mind the tourism aspect of the festival?

Builsaland abounds with important landmarks of the slave trade era. There are the Fiisa Shrine, slave routes, the slave market at Doninga, swords, spears and other artefacts left behind by slave raiders and many other attractions that would fascinate visitors both local and foreign. This side of the festival, however, has not been given the required level of development and publicity even though it is one area that could easily generate revenue for the District Assembly.

Any lessons to be drawn from Feok? Yes. With determination, unity of purpose and love for the nation, Ghanaians as a people can overcome the difficulties they are presently going through. The same way as the people of Builsa came together to defeat Babatu's army and redeem their land from the ever-present feeling of insecurity posed by slave raiders."...http://www.mclglobal.com