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Blog / Africa Thanksgiving Tradition

Homowo – The African Festival of the Rains - Another Lovely Way to Show Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration that is observed in a select few countries around the world. However, while it is not a universal celebration, many other countries and regions do share similar festivals and celebrations. In Africa, it is known as Festival of the Rains or the Homowo Festival. 

About the Homowo Festival

The Homowo Festival is a traditional harvest celebration that is celebrated by the Ga people of Ghana in West Africa. It is the largest cultural festival of its kind in the country. The word Homowo means “hooting at hunger,” and the origins of the festival are directly tied to the migration of the Ga people to Ghana. As the story goes, the Ga people travelled nomadically for many years before settling on the west coast – a place they still reside to this day. Along their journey, the Ga people experienced famine; however, rather than giving in, they supported each other through the difficult times and survived. It said that the people were inspired by the famine, which led to large food production processes eventually creating a bumper harvest. Once they settled and their harvest became plentiful, they held a huge feast where they reflected upon and laughed at the hunger and difficult times they overcame. This is known as the first Homowo celebration. With the Ga people’s hunger ended, it’s said they “hooted at hunger.”

Today the festival includes a procession of priests sprinkling kpokpoi in the streets, along with drumming, singing, dancing and horn blowing. At home, families share the traditional kpokpoi in a common bowl, with everyone joining in a festival dance called “oshi joo.” The festival traditionally ends on a Sunday with a closing ceremony known as “Noowala Hamo,” where friends and family visit, exchange the Homowo greeting and settle disputes and misunderstandings.

Other Cultural Celebrations: The First Fruits Ceremony

Other Africans also have similar festivals during harvest season. One of the most common is called “first fruits.” This involves several days of planning to bless the newly harvested crop and purify the people prior to eating the food from the harvest.

A Recipe for Traditional Homowo Meal

As with other festivals and celebrations around the world, Homowo has a traditional meal, known as Kpokpoi.

The meal is made using steamed corn dough that is mixed with palm oil. It’s traditionally served with fish and palm soup. Sticking with tradition, when the meal is prepared, the head of the family sprinkles some of the kpokpoi on the doorstep of the home. This is symbolic of feeding the spirts of past family members of the home.

Here is a recipe to make this traditional dish:


  • 6 okra
  • 6 cups of dry corn
  • Salt
  • Corn husks
  • 1 pint of palm oil
Meal Preparation
  • Soak corn for 2 days prior to cooking
  • Wash and grind the corn
  • Sprinkle water on top of corn meal and cover overnight
  • Once corn meal has sat overnight, rub through a sieve.
  • Place a steamer over a pot of boiling water and seal edges with a little corn dough
  • Cover bottom of steamer with clean corn husks
  • Put sifted corn meal into the steamer and allow it to cook over the steam for about half an hour until the kpokpoi gives out a yeasty aroma
  • Slice okra and cook in little water until tender
  • Mash okra and add salt
  • Take kpokpoi out of steamer
  • Sprinkle with salted cool water, using a wooden spoon to break all the lumps
  • Mix with mashed okra
  • If palm oil is used heat and mix with kpokpoi evenly
  • Serve with palm nut soup and fish
We hope you enjoyed exploring a different way of expressing thanks. We are committed to "provoking humanity" by learning about how others observe and celebrate.
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A Taste of Africa: African (Leftover) Turkey Stew

Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different - and yummy - expressions of each culture through food.

While Canadian Thanksgiving is past, American Thanksgiving is coming up soon! There are still lots of good buys on turkey at local supermarkets. Whether made with inexpensive turkey legs or (as we usually do) with leftover turkey, this stew is a great "warmer upper" for those nippy fall days.

We love sharing our family recipes with you but please remember you can search online and find lots of variations on this dish and other terrific African recipes. An online recipe site we use over and over again is The Congo Cookbook. My East Africa Journal is also a great source for recipes.  Many similar recipes for this delicious stew start with turkey legs. We use leftover turkey most of the time. If you like your stew a little "juicier", reduce the amount of turkey. Play it by ear and vary this recipe and you will end up with a family favourite, we're sure!


  • 2 cups of leftover turkey, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 2 orange (or yellow) bell peppers
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (we use chopped garlic in oil- comes in a jar - much easier)
  • 4 hot peppers (your choice but chop them up fine and be careful handling them)
  • 6-8 plum tomatoes (cut up into chunks) You can use canned plum tomatoes if you want. We do and it works just fine. We use an entire can because we like our stew with lots of juice.
  • 1 sweet onion (cut into bite size chunks)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 cup of olive oil (it is okay to use vegetable oil - we just prefer using olive oil)


  1. Put your leftover turkey into a big saucepan and then pour in the chicken broth. It must cover the turkey meat.
  2. Bring it to a boil slowly over medium heat and cook until the broth has been absorbed/reduced by at least half.
  3. Cut your bell peppers into bite size chunks and blend them roughly along with the onions, hot peppers, garlic, tomato paste and tomatoes. We use our food processor. Don't puree them until they are a paste! Make sure some of the pepper and onion chunks are still recognizable.
  4. Now heat up your olive oil in another big saucepan and pour in your vegetable mixture from the step above. Watch (and stir) carefully as you simmer the mixture in the oil. It will take about 30 minutes for this to be done. Don't let it burn.
  5. Now add your turkey and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Add salt to taste.

Now, here's the nice thing about this recipe. Sometimes we add some more chicken broth and a can of black beans. Other times, we add more chicken broth and tomatoes to make a juicier stew - adding some beans (you can use black beans, navy beans - whatever you like). Sometimes we don't puree the bell peppers. This recipe really lends itself to variations. We often serve this recipe over rice. And sometimes couscous. We often serve it with fresh, hot biscuits. This is a good basic recipe to enjoy any way you want to! It freezes fairly well so, if you find you like it, make a double batch for the next rainy fall day you need something warm in your tummy! Enjoy! And please let us know how you enjoy this recipe and any creative culinary modifications you make.  

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