The Bakatue Festival is celebrated by the chiefs and peoples of Elmina in the Central Region of Ghana. The festival is used to mark the beginning of the fishing season in Elmina. The name Bakatue is from the Fante dialect and translates as “draining of a lagoon”.
The Elmina states set aside the first Monday and Tuesday of the month of July for the festival. All necessary customary activities are performed on Monday. Tuesday was chosen because it is regarded locally as the day for the sea god. As such in Elmina, as in many fishing communities in Ghana, fishermen do not go to sea on Tuesdays in order to honour the sea god.
During the festival, the Paramount Chief and his sub-chiefs and the entire state of Elmina offer the sacred festival food of eggs and mashed yam mixed with palm oil to Nana Brenya, the river god, and pray for peace. On the morning of the festival, all members of the Elmina royal family participate in a royal possession made up of chiefs and stool carriers. Chiefs of higher towns in the Elmina paramount area ride decorated palanquins. After the procession and the giving of various addresses by select chiefs and invited guest, the chief priest casts his net three times into the Brenya Lagoon. This is followed by declarations of the end to the ban on fishing, drumming, funerals and other social activities in the Elmina traditional area, after which there is the riding on the lagoon by women wearing Kente cloth and local festive headgear. A royal procession leading to the chief’s palace amidst traditional music ends the festival. All the fish that is caught by the net, during the ceremony, is offered to the gods as a symbol to thank them for the harvest. The day ends with merry-making after the durbar.