For the past 200 hundred years the Abbey tribesmen who live about 62 miles ( 100 kms ) north of Abidjan have celebrated the yam harvest with a three-day festival.
GV Village of Grand Morie (with drums beating)
SV People arrive
SV Drummers (2 shots)
SV Men dancing
GV Villagers play ancient game throwing a piece of palm
SV Crowd look on
SCU Thrower is whipped on legs by the catcher
SCU Catching palm
SV PAN.. from horn-blowers to picture of original chief and toby jug on stool (2 shots)
SCU PAN.. from picture to tribal elder asking the spirits blessing on the village
SV Chief seated
LV Elders pay homage to chief (2 shots)
SV Women look on
SCU Spiritual chief arrives
CU Spiritual chief pours libation of palm wine before Toby jug (2 shots)
CU Toby jug
CU ZOOM OUT..ancient war spear
SCU Woman thrown maize flour onto crowd
SCU Paramount chief of the village leads dancers (2 shots)
CU Fainted man carried off
CU Girls dance the Aye de Grand Morie (3 shots)
Initials LN/AW/PS/1200 LN/AW/ES.1147
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Background: For the past 200 hundred years the Abbey tribesmen who live about 62 miles ( 100 kms ) north of Abidjan have celebrated the yam harvest with a three-day festival.
The festivities start at the beginning of October after the appearance of the new moon which marks the harvest.
The entire festival is called Djidja and each of three day-- called Dje, Ekichi, and Ovo -, consists of the performance of different rituals. The yam harvest is celebrated by several of the Ivory Coast tribes but for the Abbeys the festival's purpose is twofold. In addition to being a celebration of the harvest, the Djidja is also a time for asking pardon of the gods and for receiving their blessing.
The festival originated when the first chief, Abede Akossi, discovered yams about two centuries ago when he led his people into the region from Ghana. The yams were said to have magical properties, and they became the staple food of the Abbey tribesmen, who live in the village of Grand Morie founded by their original chief.
The town of Grand Morie is made up of 12 clans, each of which has its own chief. The family chiefs are presided over by the village chief, Atte Nocho. The village also has a spiritual chief, Ngnamin Degbo, whom the inhabitants call Teko.
The ceremony shown in this film took place on the third, or Ovo day. Before the actual ritual begins, all present are shown a picture of Abede Akossi, the original chief, and a stool used by him. An ancient war spear, said to have belonged to Abede Akossi, is placed against the painting. A Toby jug, believed to be vested with the power of providing enough yams to feed everyone, is set on the original chief's stool.
Villagers occupy themselves while waiting for the arrival of their chiefs by playing games. In one of these a piece of palm tree is thrown and one or more people at the receiving end try to catch it one a noose. If it is caught, the thrower is whipped on the leg by the catcher with the palm branch.
One of the tribal elders stand near the picture of the original chief and asks the spirits' blessing on the village before all the elders pay homage to the village chief. Traditional dances are performed before the arrival of the spiritual chief, who pours a libation of palm wine before the Toby jug while the villagers clap. Ceremonial yams are placed on the ground.
After the pouring of the libation, the paramount chief of the village dances with a group of his people. Women with sticks perform the Aye de Grand More dance to mark the end of another year's festival.