At the end of October, Odumase Krobo hosts Manya Krobo’s colorful annual harvest celebration called Ngmayem or Millet Festival, to celebrate unity and continued prosperity in the region. In Adangme, the local language, ‘ngma’ (pronounced ‘my’) means millet and ‘yem’ means festival.
The Manya Krobo region is divided into three administrative districts, Upper Manya Krobo, Lower Manya Krobo and Yilo Krobo. The area is famous for their traditional handmade glass beads and home to the country’s finest bead-makers. Odumase Krobo is the capital of the Lower Manya Krobo district.
Ngmayem lasts one week and culminates with a festival on the last Friday in October. The week leading up to the festival is full of events.
On Thursday, locals and visitors hike to the top of Krobo Mountain, the ancestral home of the Krobo people, to commemorate the region’s ancestral heritage and catch a spectacular view of the Volta River and the surrounding bush.
To hike Krobo Mountain, I travelled to Odumase Krobo on Wednesday afternoon and stayed the night with a friend. Odumase Krobo, a short distance north of Accra (Ghana’s capital city and my current place of residence), is a two hour non-stop drive without traffic. In tro tro, the local transportation, the trip took four hours from start to finish with crawling traffic leaving Accra.
We started early on Thursday morning to avoid the crowds coming later in the day. On our ascent, we met the elders descending. The elders had performed an early morning ancestral rite on a rock face, called the ‘Dipo Stone’, at the top of the mountain.
The elders descended the mountain singing and dancing, and carrying ceremonial objects including a cutlass and a whip. We joined their song while they stopped for photos.
When you go…
Start early to avoid the midday heat. Krobo Mountain is nearly 30 minutes by taxi from Odumase Krobo and takes about one and a half hours to hike to Dipo Stone and back at a slow pace. The terrain on this hike is rocky and uneven and may require some scrambling near the top.
Take extra water and consider hiring a local guide. The Ghana Bradt Guide (6 ed.), the most comprehensive travel guide to Ghana, provides a brief description of Krobo Mountain and does not mention Ngmayem.
If you hike Krobo Mountain during Ngmayem time your hike so that you descend by midday to avoid becoming trapped on the mountain by the afternoon rush. As always, keep aware of your surroundings but take care to be extra vigilant during Ngmayem as crime in the area increases.