Fetu Afahye was grand, but Accra-Cape Coast gridlock denies access!
The Fetu festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Cape Coast (Oguaa) is undoubtedly one of the highly-rated tourist attractions in the country.
With its organisation, attendance, costumes, preparations, unity and camaraderie, this year’s version was par excellence.
Apart from the merry-making, there were some precedents which could have taken the shine away.
The first unacceptable incident was the frustration patrons, who thronged Ghana’s ancient city from around the country and the world over, endured just to get to Cape Coast, a journey of about two and half hours from Accra.
Oguaa, the Central regional capital, has several beautiful tourist attractions apart from its famous castles with visits on a daily basis but visits to the town during peak periods such as this year’s Fetu festival between August 28, 2023 and September 5, 2023 was breathtaking.
In spite of all these plaudits, a major concern which could derail the gains made in terms of boosting tourism and making Cape Coast the heartbeat of tourism in the country are the unmotorable portions and the dangerous state of the Accra to Cape Coast road.
That road has outlived its usefulness and has been described by many as not fit for purpose.
On Friday, September 1, 2023, the thousands that were on the road to be part of the celebrations had to endure close to two hours of frustration in traffic just to cross from Kasoa to Awutu Beraku, a journey of about 20 minutes.
The experience was no different when the visitors were returning to Accra from September 4, 2023, onwards, because part of the road had flooded around the Tuba Junction tollbooth after some rain.
They also had to encounter another gridlock at the SCC Junction, around the West Hills Mall, towards the old barrier on the Kasoa-Mallam stretch, with rainwater flooding the road.
But for the irresistible Fetu festival, many of the visitors would have preferred to stay in their comfort zones.
Some have called on the Central Regional House of Chiefs and possibly their Western Regional counterparts to petition the government to, as a matter of urgency, mobilise funds to re-engineer and make the road better.
Traditionally, the chiefs and people of the Oguaa Traditional Area (Cape Coast), observe week-long festivities from the last Monday of the month of August to the first Saturday of September; but prior to these festivities, is the confinement of the Omanhen, yam festival, cleansing of stools and a ban on drumming and fishing in the famous Fosu Lagoon.
After close to a month of virtual serenity in the traditional area, the ban is lifted and the Oguaa version of the Bakatue is held.
Through the creative lenses of a local private radio station (Cape FM) with the colour orange as its brand, a street carnival was introduced on the Friday over a decade ago as part of the festivities, known as “the Orange Friday street carnival”.
The grand finale on Saturday, September 1, 2023 was colourful and blended with tradition and Christianity as most brass band groups sang along and danced to gospel songs.
On the heels of the carnival, were procession by the seven Asafo companies, Bentsir No. 1 and Anafo No. 2, together with Intsin No. 3 and Nkum No.4, Abrofomba No. 5, Akrampa No.6 and Amanful No. 7 Asafo companies in their full regalia, amidst drumming, dancing and the firing of muskets.
The procession included chiefs of the traditional area, who also joined in palanquins in pomp and ceremony.
Finally, a non-denominational church service crowned activities.
Congratulations to the 2023 Fetu Afahy3 planning committee for putting up a splendid festival this year, as well as the leadership of the traditional area both traditional or political and the indigenes, especially the influential ones.
They must not rest, but lead the charge in finding a solution to the Accra- Cape Coast gridlock, as well as some other development needs, such as factories, streetlights and drains.
It is worth mentioning that tourism is not just about the tourist sites but also prioritising access to the sites.