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Dancers perform Bawa dance onstage, August 21, 1998
Dancers Tanya Nicholson and Otu Amoo dancing Bawa onstage at the Homowo Festival, August 21, 1998 Photo: Julie Keefe

Portland's Homowo Festival

This harvest celebration of welcoming and thanksgiving originated among the Ga people of Ghana, West Africa. (Homowo is a Ghanian metaphor for mocking hunger.)

As a month-long event in August, the Portland festival begins with children's days camps, where they learn African culture through the arts. The festival finale is a two-day celebration that is held in downtown Portland. More than 8,000 Portland residents and visitors attend this community event, which features Ghanaian, other African, and Caribbean music and dance presentations, storytelling, a children's activity area, a folk arts demonstration area, and other workshops.

The festival was founded in 1989 by the Homowo Arts and Cultures organization to share the traditions of Africa and to pass this heritage to new generations. This festival brings people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds together in a setting of celebration and harmony.

Among musical presentations are marimba music from Zimbabwe, steel drums from Trinidad, and the highlife music of West Africa. Ethic foods from Ghana, Ethiopia, Somalia and Jamaica are offered. Merchants' stands display crafts, clothing, artwork, jewelry, and other items from African cultures.

During the last day of the festival, a procession is lead by Obo Addy, Homowo artistic director and a master percussionist, and members of his traditional Ghanaian music and dance troupe, followed by volunteers who portray the Ga King and Queen of the Warriors, the royal families of the Ashanti and the Dagomba, and the Ewe high priest. After the procession, traditional Ghanaian songs and dances from different cultural groups are performed.

Documentation includes a text report, a slide, 10 photographs, a newspaper article, programs, brochures, and a poster.

Originally submitted by: Ron Wyden,Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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