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Ga Outdooring ceremony – An Annunciation by Ade Sawyerr

ga outdooring

Ga outdooring ceremony – kpodziemo ceremony places a new born child within the family and relations. It provides the opportunity for the family to welcome the child into the community. it can be described as the annunciation – announcing and welcoming the baby, endowing the child with gifts and giving the child its first commandments. before naming the child.
It is held exactly a week after the child is born – it is essentially an eighth day ceremony and can only be held on the day of the week that the child is born and on no other day.  You do not outdoor a child born on Tuesday on a Saturday for the sake of convenience.  It has to be held on a Tuesday if the child is born on Tuesday or a Sunday if the child is born on a Saturday!
It is held at dawn before the sun rises, it is not about presenting a child to the sun it is about the welcoming the child at dawn and showing it to the last star – the dawn and in days gone by it was the dew that forms into water that is used for the ceremony often collected from the roof.   The Ga phrase for an invitation to and outdooring is – atsɛbo bɔno – “you are being called onto the dew” which means that you are being called out at dawn.
It is usually held in the house of the paternal grandparent where all the family have access to and the grandparents are the most important personalities.  The parents do not need to attend. It helps if they do.
The child is taken from the home of the mother early and transported to the house of the grandparent; this is usually done by an uncle of the child though he maternal family plays an integral role and are seated deep in yard of the house.
The ceremony has 16 parts and some are abridged for simplicity or compacted for purposes of convenience.
Four  main people take part in the ceremony. The paternal grandfather, and two otsiame and the god father or mother depending on the gender of the child.
It is often times an all day ceremony, though it has to end by 6 pm as custom demands.
It is assumed that this is the first time the child is leaving the house after birth.

In this account I have borrowed liberally from the excellent book OMANYE ABA by A. Amartey

The Ga Outdooring – Order of the ceremony

1 Daŋtuu Presentation of drinks
2 Shidzɔmɔ/gbɛgblɛmɔ Ground blessing and asking for permission
3 Kponɔŋmei Out dooring
4 Dzɔmɔ Blessing
5 Daŋwoo Refreshments
6 Gbɛiwoo Naming
7 Nikee Gifts
8 Nikwɛmɔ Accounting for the gifts
9 Saramor. Shitee, Shidaa Thanksgiving drinks
10 Yeigbɛwoo Parting gifts for women’s side
11 ŋmɛdaŋ shishifortemor Draining off the corn drink
12 Kposamɔ Rubbing of hands
13 Daŋdaimo Finishing the hard drink
14 Shidaa Vote of thanks
15 Gbɛbimɛ kɛ  gbɛtsoomɔ Directions for parting
16 Henɔwɔmɔ Rising

1       Presentation of drinks.

The paternal otsiame starts by presenting the drinks from the paternal grandparents to the maternal grandparents.
Agoo Ataamei ke Awoomei 
Atuapɛma yɛ dzɛi lo 
Onuu bɔni Nuumo Ie kɛɛ
Ekɛɛ ehiɛ daa atunkpai enyɔ
Ni ekɛ miito 
Gbɔlɛ  ni eba Ie naanu
Agoo, fathers and mothers.  Have not heard what the old man of the child are saying, they are saying that they have their two bottles of gin to help with the dribbling of the stranger that has come to us.
The maternal side it that acknowledges receipt.  eshɛ
The maternal otsiame presents a pot of ŋmedan.
Agoo Twitwan ye dzɛi lo 
Onuu bɔni Yoomo Ie kɛɛ
Ekɛɛ ehiɛ edaŋ gbɛ kome kɛ eshishi tako 
Ni ekɛ miito gbɔ/ɛ iii eba Iɛ naanu
This time the old woman is the person who is mentioned. Again there is acknowledgement from the paternal side.

2       House blessing and asking of permission.

One gin bottle is opened and the paternal grandfather blesses the house.  The libation is poured at the four corners of the house.
Four corners of the yard or house
With corn drink, provided by the female side
Agoo, niimei and naamei, today we are presenting the new addition to the family to tsotsobi, the last star, have some of this drink so that you bless the land for us so that the stranger respects the earth.   we know you may still be around and hope that we have not disturbed your sleep, please be mindful that what we are doing is something of glory so we ask for your blessing.
Ei nmene ashi me
ŋmɛne ashi soo Niimei a soo, 
Naamei a soo 
Na, gbɔ ni eba lɛ 
ŋmɛne wɔ kɛ Iɛ miitsoo 
Tsotsoobi ei 
Nyɛbaheadaŋ nɛɛ eko nyenua 
Koni nyedzor Iɛ
ni eyi abagbo dzen
After the hard drink is used, water is also used at the same spot –
na nyɛ aflane ni shwe no.

3       Outdooring.

Child is given to the one performing ceremony normally close relative from the fathers family. Female if the child is a girl, male if a boy.
the person chosen must normally be of an exemplary character.
The child is taken naked and given to the surrogate godfather or mother.  The godparent holds the child up to the skies and puts them down on the ground.  This happens three times. The person says these words.
Agoo fathers and mothers, what is today? Today is Monday, the Monday of the fathers and the Monday of the mothers.  Today we are here to show this stranger to tsotsobi – to outdoor the child.  A Gadangme child is circumspect to the extent that they only speak when the wind blows, you see no evil, you speak no evil, you do not tell lies and you do not steal, you have to work so that you can eat, respect your father and your mother.
The third time the child is left on the ground.  The person steps over the child three times and gently uses the leg to touch the child’s leg saying to the child to take after their character.  The person then sprinkles cold water on the child till the child starts crying and then dips corn wine into the child’s mouth with the saying that GaDangme children eat corn so have your first taste.  It is significant that the person chosen must be a family member on paternal side with exemplary character for the child to follow. The water sprinkled on the child is to bless the child and the reason why we wait for the child to cry is that they have heard us and accepted to be one of us.  The chid is then given taken to the mother and need not be part of the rest of the ceremony
Agoo Ataamei ke Awoornei 
Nmene ashi me Nmene ashi soo 
Niirnei a-soo Naarnei a-soo Naa, 
gbɔ ni eba Ie wɔkɛ Iɛ miitso Tsootsoobi eei 
Ga humi Iɛ kɔyɔɔ twsa dani oweɔ 
onu onuko; ona onako 
Amalee, adzuu 
Obatsu oninenaanii ni oye 
Ataa Iɛ Ataa, ni awo Iɛ awo ni
Three times the child is raised to the skies; on the third time the child is put on the ground and the outdoorer steps over the child three times and kicks the child’s leg lightly essentially asking the child to take after him.
Water is then sprinkled on the child till they cry. that signifies that the have responded and they voice has now been heard. The corn drink is then put into the child’s mouth just for the taste. If true Ga child they will lap it. this is to remind them that it is corn that we eat. and not muffins or macdonalds etc.

4       Blessing.

Three times with variations by – head of male family –  head of female family
male side otsiami
This is done three times by the grandfather or head of household on the paternal  and the maternal and by the paternal otsiame.  The blessing is done in the form of a libation with some variations.  The words are essentially.
Agoo fathers and mothers
Strike let there be glory
May our stools be thick, may our brooms be thick
We meet in a circle
If we dig a well may we find water and if we drink may our joints be calmed
The stranger that has come amongst us,
May brightness be in front of them and the darkness behind
Long life to the father and to the mother
May he come to show respect to the world
so that we relatives will be able to support him
A Gadangme child is circumspect before they speak
You do not say everything you see
No telling of lies, no stealing
Respect your father and your mother
May she come and work and share with the family
so that if she needs help the family can borrow to support them
May he live to see other siblings
May he come with black and go with white
And if there is someone with an evil mind about what is happening,
Do we bless them? NO,
May they die of this evil
Agoo ataamei ke awomei
Tswa tswa tswa omanye aba,
Tswa tswa omanye aba,
tswa omanye aba
worsɛ yi ati, wɔblɔ yi ati
wɔbɔle kutu wɔkpe
wɔdze bu wɔdze nu no
woye wɔnu wokodzi ano adzɔ wɔ
gbɔ ni eba Ie etsɛ yiwala enyɛ yi wala
ehiɛ faŋŋ esɛɛ tuu
eyi abagbo dzen
koni wekumeiabii wɔna faanii wɔ fa le
esɛɛ aba haran
eko abatashi ne eko abanina lɛ
ekɛ edin ba ekɛ eyen atee
tswa tswa tswa omanye aba

5       Refreshments.

The corn drink that is used for the blessing is now available for everyone to drink and other refreshments that are available are served to all.   As custom dictates serving of drinks to male from paternal side before males from maternal side and then females from paternal side and then females from maternal side.

6       Naming

The otsiame go to the head and household who tells them the name of the child and gives them the second bottle of gin that is the naming drink.
They pour some of the drink and announce to all the name of the child.
Agoo is the other otsiami there?  Have you heard what the oldman has said, the old man says that the stranger that has come to join us now has a name, he is no longer called the stranger or it, or her or kwe.  The child is called Tettey and the child’s nick name is Saashi.
The drink is poured and individually given to all assembled.  With each person the name is given to them and then they drink with the saying.
May he come and respect the earth.
Gadangme children are named after their grandparents on the paternal side so there are two sets of names
The name given to the child is significant because the name places the child in the family.  Gadangme have different types of names.
There are
Lineage names – determined by the division, quarter and house – Abe, Ado, Afo, Ama, Amaa, Ashi, Ayi, Boi, Kwate, Lami, Late, Nete, Obli, Okai, Tete, Yaote
Seniority names – first, second, third – Tetttey, Tetteh, (Kwei Mensah), (Laye Anan), (Boi Anum), (Ashai Nsiah), Ashong, Botwe, Akrong, Badu, Odiko
Dede, Korkor, Kai, Mansa, Tsotso, Manaŋ, Fofo, Manum, Ashami, Ashong, Botwe, Akrong, Badu, Odiko
Day names – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – Kodjo, Kwabla, Kwaku, Kwao, Kofi, Kwami, Kwashi
Special names, for twins, orphans etc
Akwele, Oko, Akwete, Akuete, Akuokor Tawaih, Ago, Aban, for twins
Atuban for orphans
odonkor kwakute, for survival children
Most people are named after their grandparents and the names are provided by the lineage.  The grandfather provides the name.  If a child is named directly after a living grandparent, the child’s name is usually not called and another is substituted.
Explaining this will probably take a whole lecture.
Most of the sabla or nick names are of Twi extraction
Agoo ataamei ke awomei atuapema ye dzei
Onuu boni Nuumo Ie kee Gbor Ie ni ba Ie
egbɛi dzi Tettey esabla dzi Saashi
the drink is given to all assembled, male first
they drink, mention the name and normally add eyi abgbo dzen.
a female otsiame is sometimes hurriedly appointed to give the women their naming drink.
the drink is kept to announce to anyone who comes to the house after the ceremony.

7       Nikee Gifts

The gifts are an acknowledgement that the whole clan shows commitment towards the upkeep of the child till the child is able to start working.
The gifts start from the grandparents on the male side
The grand parents from the female side
Older grand uncles and aunts,
Uncles and aunts
Friends of the father and the mother
Agoo fathers and mothers
Is the otsiame there
Otsiame responds
Have you heard what Ataa Bokete and wife aunti ahinae from bortianor are saying?  They are saying that they have lived with the mother of the child, they are friends but have now turned family with the birth of this child.  They have to be in on the farm today but they just cannot stay away.  They need to see the child and have come all the way to witness this event.  They do not have much, but there is no way they can live with themselves if they do not come.  So today they have come and with their own 10 guineas.  They ask that the money is specifically used to buy shea butter to put on the back of the child to seal off any pores that are exposed during this harmattan period.
So what do we tell them
The response is
We thank them very much
When people start working, it is customary as part of the practice to share their first pay.  My was in 1966 and I earned 11 cedis which I gave to my mother who duly distributed it amongst my uncles and aunties
Agoo Ataamei ke Awoomei
Atuapema ye dzei Atuapema ebeshi
Ataa Bokete ke ehefatalor Autie Ahinae Dede Ota nidze Bortianor amekee arne hie arne mantse yitsoo Guinea oha ameke mu dzie amebile kpo.
ame yiwala donn.

8       Accounting for the gifts

The keeloi or otsiame go with appointed people to count the amounts donated. this is usually given to the couple. It is divided into three. The woman takes two thirds if the ceremony is for any reason held at her fathers house. Normally the man takes the two thirds or more. If he is not married to the woman he gives the bulk to the woman it becomes what we call sune shishi = something put under the pillow as a reward for the nine months that she carried the child and the dangers inherent in childbirth.
The total amount collected is never announced to all.

9       Thanksgiving drinks

drinks are provided to the men from the paternal side

10  Parting gifts for women

Gifts are provided to the women from the maternal side
soft drinks     12 bottles     6 if unmarried
beer   4 bottles       2 IF UNMARRIED
wine   2 BOTTLES   I if unmarried
Money          I shilling        sixpence if unmarried

11  Draining off the corn drink

Performed by the otsiame from both the male and female sides.
They have to drink all that is left of the nmeda and finish it off.   The significance of this is that the ceremony is closely coming to an end.
There is the blessing of the child once again
Performed by the otsiame from both the male and female sides.
They have to drink all that is left of the nmeda and finish it off.   There is the blessing of the child once again
Agoo tswa, tswa, tswa omanye aba,  tswa omanye aba
abaafɔte wordaa shshi
Tswa tswa omanye aba dzee wɔgbe kome
tswa omanye aba woseŋ  yi ati wɔblɔi ayi ati
wɔbɔle kutu wɔkpe wɔdze bu wɔdze nu no
wɔye wɔnu wɔkodzi ano adzo wɔ
gbɔ ni eba etsɛ yiwala enye yiwala
ehiɛ fann eyi abagbo dzen
wekurnei wɔna faani wofa le
ebatsu eha wo ni woye
Ga humibi le koryor tswa dani oweɔ,
ona oanko onu onuko amalee adzuu
ke wɔna tuu lɔ enyondzi,  fuu le aglama
yeifɔyei atsormotoi amewo ketra shi wofa maŋo  dzurɔ wɔŋɔjɔ
eko ata shi eko anina
eke edin ba eke eyen aya
aso owirofo nankafo sulorkplor aata heko iii eeke ake befeebe le kpakpatsewe nec bii niidzie kpo le
ana ke wodzor nee wondzor le ooho
shor ke horgba gbea le   eegbo
nyewoa ayi   hoo
tswa omanye aba   hiao
They then embrace each other telling all that the work that they have been asked to do is at an end.
The otsiame embrace and then each says
Noko fioo le ni
Onukpai le keha mile edze miden
the other congratulates him and says
Oku nsa mo
This signifies the beginning of the end of the ceremony

12  Warding of evil –

The kposamo action involves rubbing of palms and bringing the hands over the shoulders three times, left right and then left.
The otsiame tells all assembled that the old man will say a few words
Agoo, strike let glory surround us
Let us look after it
If we pour the water on ourselves may our joints be calmed
Let the child stay
The intriguing issue is that this is said mainly in twi.
Kotoko minsheso
Owia akose
Bedzina, bedina

Otsiame says
Agoo agoo Atuapema ye dzei
Na Numoo Ie nine baaya nwei
koni wokposa
Agoo tswa tswa tswa omanye aba tswa tswa omanye aba tswa omanye aba
Ataamei ke awomei nyemo a mli ko
wuye wodzu wokodzi ano adzor wo
ekoatashi ni eko anina
kotoko munshwe so
owia akosee
Ataamei ke awomei nyemoa mu ko wuye wodzu wokodzi ano adzor wo okoatashi ni oka anina
The kposamo action involves rubbing of palms and bringing the hands over the shoulders three times, left right and then left.

13  Finishing of the hard drink

They then embrace each other telling all that the work that they have been asked to do is at an end.
The otsiame embrace and then each says
Noko fioo le ni
Onukpai le keha mile edze miden
the other congratulates him and says
Oku nsa mo
This signifies the beginning of the end of the ceremony

14  Vote of thanks

It is the old man who provides the vote of thanks.
Ago fathers and mothers – le the child come and stay
Let the another child come and meet this child and let the child respect the earth
Thanks very much and if the cock crows tomorrow morning let it be a reminder that we are thanking you for attending this ceremony
Agoo, Ataamei ebadamo shi Awomei obedzina ei
ekoabatashi ni eko aba nina le eyi aba gbo dzen
Nuumo – twice
Agoo tswa, tswa tswa omanye aba tswa tswa omanye aba
tswa omanye aba
ataarnei kedzi dzettsere le nyeyiwala donn
Awoornei ke wor leebi wuo bo kokotsi okoo le nyeyiwala donn

15  Directions for parting

from maternal otsiame
is the otsiame there?  Have you heard what the old lady is saying? She says that we are ready to leave so we are looking at the oldman to show us the way
from paternal
is otsiame there.  Have you heard what the oldman is saying?  He is saying that if you go towards this direction you will  probably end up in the toilets and where no one who does not leave in this house should wander, but if you do towards the opposite direction you are well on your way home
from female side otsiame
Twitswan ye dzeme
onuu boni Nuumo Ie keor
Ekee alee gbe ayaa
Hewo Ie eekwe Nuumo le
From male side okyeame
Agoo tswa, tswa tswa omanye aba tswa tswa omanye aba
tswa ornanye aba
Ha eshe Nuurno le den ake ke ametsto biegbe le amerniiya Nuumo le mosee le
shi kedzi ameyi neke Ie Gbe le dzi no

16  Rising

from Nuumo
Agoo tswa, tswa tswa omanye aba tswa tswa omanye aba
tswa ornanye aba
Ataamei ke Awomei Mini eshwe wo – won wole wohe ano
Three times

This end the Ga Outdooring ceremony

Ade Sawyerr is a partner in Equinox Consulting, a management consultancy that provides management consultancy, training, and research services in the areas of enterprise strategies, employment initiatives and community development primarily for disadvantage communities in Britain. He provides occasional comments on politics in Ghana and Africa. He can be reached at or at He can also be followed or
* based on endnotes from the Star 100 UK  (, The Professional Ghanaian Network’s, Tribes event on 24th September 2010 in London.

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The Matters Arising blog is a collection of thought-provoking, thought-leadership pieces sprinkled with some blue-sky thinking on pertinent issues affecting African communities both in the diaspora and at home. It includes articles on culture, politics, social and economic advancement, diversity and inclusion, community cohesion topics. It is also a repository of the political history of Ghana, traditions of the Gadagme people of Ghana, and the Pan-African politics of Kwame Nkrumah. Read, enjoy, like, share, and join!


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