By Ahedor Jessica
Hogbetsotsoza is one of the oldest, well known and the most prestigious festivals of the people of Anlo. It is celebrated on the first Saturday of the month of November every year. The festival is used by the Anlos to commemorate the exodus and the bravery of their forefathers, who through endurance and sacrifice found a new home for them at their present location when they left Nortsie.
Some school of thought explains the term Hogbetsotso, as been derived from three Ewe words – *Ho* to move, *Gbe* meaning day and *Tsotso* as the crossing over. Thus Hogbetsotso means the long journey of the Ewes through Norrtsie in the Republic of Togo to their present settlements in the Republic of Ghana.
The Hogbetsoso, as a unified commemorative event, has been celebrated for a few decades now,while many of the processes and sacraments such as Nugbidodo (the grand reconciliation) go far back in pre-history and antiquity. The first Hogbetsotso was celebrated in 1962 during the reign of Awoamefia, Torgbi Adeladzea II. This year’s celebration is christened ‘’historic’’ as the festival is set to witness the visit of the Asantehenhene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II from the Ashanti Region, the first-ever in the history of the Anlo state.
The move has been applauded by many who had known the Ewe and the Asante rivalry, even in modern Ghana. Other dignitaries to grace the occasion are The Ewefiaga Torgbui Agorkli XVI of the ancient Nortsie in the Republic of Togo, President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, and two former presidents of the Republic of Ghana, HE John Dramani Mahama and HE Jerry John Rawlings and other dignitaries from home and abroad. The Hogbe Institute, organizers of this year’s festival estimate patronage to be more than fifty thousand including locals and foreigners who will throng the area in commemorating this day.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Hogbe Institute, Dr Sylvanus Kwashi Kuwor intimated that, the theme for the festival “Uniting Anlo through its values for the benefit of its citizens and the Nation at large’’ is a clarion call on all Ewe people to utilize available opportunities in the land for the development of the area. He urges the citizenry to go beyond the celebration and foster peace and cohesion among themselves.
The Anlos –Ewes in the course of their exodus settled briefly at Notsie, currently within the territory of Togo after migrating from Southern part of Sudan, and crossing the Niger, to their present home in Ghana before the 14th Century and the advent of colonialization.
Available historical documents and oral history have it that the Anlos settled at Ketu in the Republic of Benin and Ile Ife in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Before migrating to live briefly in Notsie in the Republic of Togo. Each state of the journey has its epic story. For example when they were leaving Nortsie, the people had to move backward as they exited Nortsie, to deceive any pursuit. This backward movement is incorporated in a dance style called Husego or Misego in Anlo.
The Anlo-ewes are now widespread and located in different countries in West Africa, Togo, Nigeria, Benin and Ghana. They are the largest homogenous ethnic population in Ghana and Togo. They speak the Ewe language (Ewe: Eʋegbe) which belongs to the Gbe family of languages.