The Asafotufiam Festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Ada in the Dangbe East District of the Greater Accra region of Ghana to celebrate the bravery of their ancestors and founding fathers who fought several wars including the battle of Nonobe of 1750; the War with Anglo in 1769; the Unsuccessful invasion by Anglo in 1770; the Katamanso war of 1826; and the Glover War of 1876 to establish the territory called the Ada state.
They had rituals in place to welcome back their warriors and war heroes after every war. These rituals included feet washing and the firing of muskets to announce their arrival. However, when the wars came to an end, the observance of the rituals naturally ceased. The People of Ada felt the need to institute a festival to celebrate their ancestors, past chiefs and warriors, who all contributed to the successful establishment of Ada. This paved the way for the annual observance of the Asafotufiam festival in the 20th century. The festival derives its name from the Ada word “Asafotufiami”, which translates into “Divisional Firing of Musketry” in the Dangme language.
As part of the celebrations, there is enactment of the historic events of the Ada people, the “warriors” dress in traditional battle attire and stage a mock battle. It is also a time when the young men are introduced to warfare. There are two Asafo (companies) within the Ada State, namely, Akomfode and Asorkor, membership of which is by matrilineal lineage.
There is singing, firing of musketry and dancing until sunset following which there is a procession to “Kpomkpo-Panya” – the place which used to serve as the departing point for warriors going to war as well as the landing point for warriors returning from war. At “Kpomkpo-Panya”, the Asafo companies form a single file along the riverside and fire three consecutive volleys into the river, dip their feet into it and wash their hands to indicate the washing-away of all evil and bad omens over the past the year and looking forward to all the good in store for the years ahead. All the followers of the Asafo companies follow the custom of feet dipping and hand washing ceremony. The procession then disperses and everyone retires to their homes amid songs of jubilation.
The Asafotufiam festival remains the single most important traditional festival for the people of Ada and is held in high esteem by the people as its serves as a period during which kinship and affinity relations are reaffirmed, friends and people with familial ties reunite and bonds are strengthened to keep Ada State united. The festival takes place in the first week of August each year.