Each spring, the Effutu people of Winneba -a district on the coast of Ghana - celebrate the Festival of Deer Catching.
Each spring, the Effutu people of Winneba -a district on the coast of Ghana - celebrate the Festival of Deer Catching. This year the tribe's Tuafo Group, were chosen to conduct the ceremony on Saturday (4 May).
Although the weather was dull, they nevertheless soon emerged from the forest with their first catch - a healthy male. By tradition, the deer is caught with bare hands and is kept alive. It is tied to stakes and carried to the village to be laid before the shrine of the tribal God Penkye Otu.
The ceremony is very popular among local people and visitors, including tourists. This year the Festival was attended by the Regional Commissioner and other local dignitaries.
Originally, Penkye Otu was the God of another tribe, the Dwamba, but he has now been adopted by the Effutu. The traditional legend behind the ceremony tells how Penkye Otu once demanded that his people should sacrifice to him a member of the Royal Family.
The tribesmen did not want to do this because it would inevitably mean the extinction of the Family. So instead they substituted a live leopard. This also proved unsatisfactory, because too many tribesmen were killed in the process. So finally they hit on the idea of providing their God with a live door.
Before the tribesmen can enter the township with their live sacrifice, they are met on the outskirts by the Paramount Chief. He then touches the animal three times with his foot to make sure it is alive.
When this is done, the company dances triumphantly to Penkye Otu's shrine, where they lay the sacrifice down. This year the ceremony was accompanied by much merry-making, because shortly after the sacrifice there was a heavy down-pour which signified that Penkye Otu had accepted the prize so there will be plenty of fish and crops in the coming year.