KUNDUM FESTIVAL

Esiama people celebrate kundum festival! Kundum is a festival celebrated by the Ahantas and the Nzemas to commemorate successful harvests of farm produce, fish and to keep away the famines that can befall the region1. And to thank God/gods in the form of sacrifices, rituals songs, drumming, dancing and consultations in the spirit world to expel evil and invite goodness for their communities, as the saying goes “coming events cast their shadows”. Hence, Kundum is both a harvest and a religious festival; both social and spiritual.

Origin

The origin of the festival was passed on through oral tradition and involved a couple by names Egya Akpole Kuntum and Maame Afua Chie both living in Aboade in the Ahanta East. It is believed that Egya Akpole Kuntum came from the Royal lineage of King Kuntum family of Princes Town (Kpulisi) in Lower Dixcove of the Ahanta West District. Egya Akpole Kuntum a hunter and the spoke person for the village of Aboade, his wife also was a farmer.

One day, Madam (Maame) Afua Chie went to the bush to cut down some fire wood and chanced upon some dwarfs (or some spirit in the form of dwarfs) dancing in a circle to the beat of drums under some Myrrh trees. She observed the dance and wondered what it meant, run home to tell her husband Kuntum who also followed her to witness the dancing festival of these beings. This dancing festival they kept it secret over sometime and along the way Egya Akpole Kuntum got sick to the point of death, this really troubled the king of Aboade hence appointed both Abrema and Arsuoro leaders of the warriors and the messages respectively of the town to go to the Native Doctor at the outskirt of town by name Seidu to inquire or consult the divine for solution to Kuntum’s predicament.

They went to Seidu to inquire and he told them to go and come back the next day. The following day upon reaching Seidu’s place, he told them in vivid details what transpired hence became a fest celebrated annually to drive evil and thank God for plentiful harvest and provision. The name of the Festival was called “The Fest of Consultation” (Abisa  avuyia)  (Abisa means “consultation” and avuyia means “festival”) for during consultation that this festival was discovered but now popularly called “Kundum Abisa” literally Kundums Consultation.

Furthermore, other sources say, a hunter by name Akpole, during hunting work chanced upon some dwarfs dancing in a circle to the beat of drums. He observed the dance and wondered what it meant therefore came home and told it to the priest of the town. This priest out of jealousy that such revelation should have come to him first as a Priest did not take any steps to inquire about the matter, along the line he got sick and upon consultation that the true was known and was introduced to the people of Aboade. This dancing eventually developed into a way to drive the devil and evil spirits from the village, eventually became a festival for the Ahanta communities.

That said, one will ask this rhetorical question; how did the Nzema’s also celebrated this Ahanta festival? History has it that in those days at Aboade lived an Nzema man call “Belahua Aka Amihyia”4 from Beyin seeking healing and protection from the native doctor Seide and belongs to the Nvavile clan, after participating in this festival for some years came back to his hometown Beyin and started it with his family to expel evil and call for protection over his household. With time when the community of Beyin understood and appreciated the history and benefits, they adopted it and made it an annual festival. 

That said, but for Esiama the kundum festival was brought to town by the Alowoba (Oyoko) clan led by Egya Kadiba Ekua from Princes Town (Kpulisi). Kundum festival predates British colonization of the country, as the festival was first reported outside the region in 1704 in the Dutch edition of A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea: Divided into the Gold, the Slave and the Ivory Coast by Willem Bosman.6 Therefore, there is pre-colonial historical evidence for some of the Kundum activities from early participants and observers.7 The start of the festival is based on the day the fruit of the palm tree becomes ripe which usually is around September. The festival occurs separately in each town among the Ahanta’s and Nzemas. The festival usually is scheduled to start on Sunday and is independent of each other town.

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