The fading sun penetrated through the cracks of Fort Vernon, the former slave fort which lies in ruins at the Lower quarters of Prampram or Lakple, as thousands gathered at the beach to observe the third and final phase of the Lalue Kpledo festival.
Built in 1742 by the African Royal Company, the wobbling edifice provided has been left to decay. The rising waves continue to add to its misery.
But on this very Tuesday, it became a vital hub for those seeking shelter to escape the smouldering heat, as they wrestle with each other to escape the sun’s wrath. Among those scrambling for a spot was Teiko Ayiku, 28, a native of Prampram who lives in Dawhenya, an adjourning town.
“I am here to seek the blessings of our ancestors,” she said with a big smile on her face. She had earlier joined a procession from the Upper Prampram to Woyanman or fishing town, the Lower Prampram otherwise known as Lakple.
It was the last day of the three-week-old festival and the procession had started from the top, amidst the sounds of drumming, dancing, and singing by the various musical groups. The spectators, in their thousands, continue to flood the ground. Some clinging onto large canoes, took off their mobile phones and captured as much footage as their devices could allow.
Considered a vital aspect of the festival, history says the day also marks a cleansing exercise, where after the rites had been performed and the drum lowered into the ocean, means every negative thing on the land had been washed away by the ocean. It is a sacred ritual which forms part of the overall celebration.
A libation is first performed to appreciate the gods and the ancestors, for a successful celebration. Prayers were then offered for fishermen to be able to return from their expedition with an overload of fish.
The same prayer is also offered to every professional in the town, including the safety of drivers and passengers. Once the drum was carried and lowered into the ocean, brought out of the water and carried away, it signified the end of the festival. It also meant the town has been cleansed from bad omen.
People at liberty to wash themselves in the sea, speak good things into their own lives and walk away with joy. This year’s ceremony, which was streamed live on PramCitiTV, the YouTube channel based in the town, was well-patronised. Some residents who spoke to the channel attributed the success to the show of solidarity among the various heads within the town.
“I am a happy man today,” said Dauda Martey, an ex-assemblyman and a prominent native of Prampram. “Our elders have shown leadership, they have shown that they listen to us the people and I am glad that for the first time in many years, we have celebrated Lalue Kpledo and almost everyone is excited.”
“Just look at the crowd here, isn’t it beautiful,” a middle-aged woman quizzed Alvin Nii Okine Kasabrofo aka DJ Soul, one of the prominent presenters on PramcitiTV. “I came all the way from the UK for this and I am very happy.”
Speaking to the channel from a makeshift studio at the landing beach, Asafoatse Lartey Bantama IV from Agbazo Wem, one of the quarters which received the procession team, reaffirmed a public pronouncement he made at the beginning of this year that, he and the prominent chief, Nene Tetteh Waka III have buried their differences and were going to work together for the peace and growth of Prampram.
“I want to also use this opportunity to appeal to supporters from both sides to also come together, let’s put aside our differences and build a prosperous town for the good of our people,” he told Naa Merley and Harrison Martey who hosted the show from the studio.
“We should not allow confusion in the town because no town or country thrives in chaos.”
The event was also attended by Teshie Gbugbla Mantse, Original Nii Martey Laryea I and his army of ‘Asafoatseme and Asafoanye’. The people of Teshie Gbugbla trace their roots to Prampram and observe the same rites and traditions.
With the festival now over, the people are hopeful the show of love and unity will continue during the Homowo celebration.
***Additional files and pictures from PramCitiTV and Samuel Moore.
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