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Hooting at Hunger! The Ga of Ghana Celebrate Homowo

For Americans, Thanksgiving Day is a holiday when we give thanks for all our blessings, including food. In Ghana, Africa, people also have their own type of Thanksgiving, called Homowo.

Credit: Photo by Julie Keefe, for 'Homowo Festival, Portland, Oregon,' an Oregon Local Legacies project.  

Long ago, when the Ga people were traveling across Africa to reach the continent's western coast, they experienced many hardships, including great hunger. They traveled for many years, but they helped each other through difficult times and survived to settle in what is now known as the country of Ghana. After they settled and their harvests were plentiful, they had all the food they needed. They held a harvest festival, called Homowo, that mocked the hunger that they had suffered during their journey. The word homowo can mean "hooting or jeering at hunger" in the Ghanian language.

The Homowo festival in Portland, Oregon, is a harvest holiday of welcoming and thanksgiving, like the one celebrated by the Ga people of Ghana. The festival began in 1989 as a way for people to share the traditions of Africa and pass them on to new generations. There is a lot of joyful dancing and singing and, of course, plenty of food!

The Homowo festival was a Local Legacies project of the Library of Congress. You can learn more about the more than 1,300 Local Legacies projects by going to the Explore the States section of the America's Library Web site and clicking on any state. There, you can read about the projects in your home state that celebrate your local customs and traditions.

You can learn more about Ghana by visiting the Country Studies home page. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world and examines the interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural factors.

A. Credit: Photo by Julie Keefe, for "Homowo Festival, Portland, Oregon," an Oregon Local Legacies project.