Nearly 31 years since the last celebration of the king of the Brong people, the Adaye Kessiè festival is back this year for its second edition. Organized by the luxury travel tour operator Luxe Voyage and the Brong Gyaman NGO, an advocate organization for the preservation of the Brong culture, the festival has gone back to its roots.
Who are the Brong?
Originally from Ghana, the Brong migrated over to North east Ivory Coast in the 15th century in search of new lands to conquer. Being a warrior tribe, their sole purpose was to extend into this part of the region. They succeeded in this mission and decided to learn the language of the Koulongo region. Some say that this was done on purpose to allow them to pass on secret messages among themselves in their native Brong tongue. They went on to name the region Zanzan and installed a new king whose kingdom extends 160 km into Ghana. He may be the only king in the world to rule over two territories.
The Brong people live in the Zanzan district of the Gontougo region. The king’s residence and chieftaincy is in the village of Tabagne or Ahinifié, which means royal court. The kingdom has 4 provinces: Akidom, Angobia, Pinanogo and Foumassa. Only an individual from the village of Ahinifié may succeed the king.
What is Adaye Kessiè?
The Adaye Kessiè was traditionally held on Wednesdays, 12 days after the yam festival. The villagers would go to the king’s court to celebrate it, where he would kill an ox. Everyone was also to come with a piece of meat. Following the festivities, the village chiefs’ council would meet to take stock of the year.
Today the festival has taken more grandiose proportions with the Brong culture, the Bontougo region and its craftsmen at the forefront . Certain traditions have nonetheless been kept, such as the King’s council meeting with notable village representatives and community roundtables.
The festival runs over 5 days and is centred around several events. We were able to attend various round tables on subjects related to the daily village life, as well as traditional dances from different provinces in the kingdom and region. The festival is also an opportunity for the kingdom to demonstrate how its court is organized by staging theatrical performances. We were also privy to creations from vendors and artisans from across the regions.
The highlight of the festival is on Saturday with the parade of the King and village chiefs, an important day for members of the royalty. You’ll enjoy an hour long parade of processions from each province in the most joyful of crowds.
The festival now takes place every year in October. If you’d like to check it out and learn more about it, contact the Luxe Voyage travel agency, one of the festival’s main organizers on their website at www.luxevoyage.com and Facebook.