Asogli Te Za, popularly known as Asogli Yam Festival is essentially a harvest festival celebrated by the Asogli State (Ho) and its surrounding areas such as Sokode, Abutia Klefe and Akrofu. The festival is celebrated annually by the Chiefs (Togbewo, Mamawo) and the people of Asogli State in the Volta Region of Ghana. It is celebrated every September to thank God and also the gods and ancestors for a bumper harvest, and as an occasion to offer prayers for good health and prosperity.
The cultivation of yam which is called “ete” in Ewe, meaning, it is swollen, was started by a hunter who found the tuber in the forest on his hunting expedition during the famine period. The cultivation then began when the hunter cooked some of the tuber for a meal and hid the rest in the soil for use some other time. When he later went back for it, it had germinated and grown bigger.
The celebration of the festival was brought into Ghana by the Ewes when they migrated from Notse in the Republic of Togo where it is still celebrated.
Cooked yam is sprinkled at the various shrines. This is done before any human being is allowed to cook and taste the real yam. There is usually a grand durbar of chiefs where the chiefs sit in state to receive homage from their subjects. The mode of celebration differs slightly from one traditional area to another.
Ban on funerals
As part of preparations towards the annual Te Za celebration of the people of Asogli, the Asogli State Council usually lays a customary ban on funerals in the entire state for a month. The ban which is an annual phenomenon observed for one month prior to the celebration of Te za is to be strictly observed, implying that all funerals and burial ceremonies are to be suspended until the ban is lifted.
A durbar of chiefs and people of Asogli is held on a Saturday at the Ho Jubilee Park to climax each year’s Asogli Yam Festival the celebrations. The durbar is used to showcase the rich cultural dexterity of the four traditional areas forming Asogli, which include Akoefe, Ho, Kpenoe and Takla. The festival attracts Ewes from the Republic of Togo, as well as local and foreign tourists, chiefs and some members of the diplomatic corps. A government delegation is also usually in attendance. Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli State (Paramount Chief) sits in state to receive homage and address the gathering.