Residents of Kumbungu in the Northern Region are yet to come to terms with the death of the chief of Chensugu, a village near Kumbungu, who was shot dead during the celebration of this year’s Fire (Bugum) Festival last Thursday night.
The deceased, identified by the police as Saha Naa Haruna, 40, was hit by a stray bullet from an AK47 rifle and died on arrival at the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH).
Although calm has since been restored in the area following the incident, tension is still brewing among family members of the deceased, who are said to be demanding justice.
A family member, who gave his name as Mohammed Abdul Adam, has called on the police to investigate the matter and bring the perpetrator to book.
The Northern Regional Police Command has since the incident launched a manhunt for the suspect, identified as the youth chief of Kumbungu (Zaachi).
The Northern Regional Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Mohammed Yusif Tanko, who confirmed the incident, said the police had commenced investigations into the matter.
In a related development, several other persons also sustained various degrees of injury in many parts of the region during the celebration of the festival last Thursday.
Some of the injured persons in the Tamale metropolis were sent to the TTH for treatment and have since been discharged.
A day before the celebration of the festival, the Northern Regional Security Council (REGSEC) cancelled the event in three towns, including Yendi, Bimbilla and Kpatinga, for security reasons.
A statement issued by REGSEC said: “The various security councils have cancelled the celebration in Yendi, Bimbilla and Kpatinga and we expect them to respect the directives as such.”
The statement cautioned towns that were excluded from the ban to refrain from carrying offensive weapons such as cutlasses, guns and bow and arrows that were capable of injuring others during the celebration.
“The Security Council urges the general public to bear in mind that it is the rich culture that this tradition seeks to portray. Therefore, we must celebrate in a manner that will seek to project our rich culture and tradition and avoid all forms of violence,” the statement added.
The Bugum Festival is an important yuletide celebrated annually among the people of Dagbon, Mamprugu and the Nanumba ethnic groups to mark a historical event on the Mole-Dagbon calendar.
It is celebrated amid chanting, dancing, firing of muskets, lighting of fire and marching through the principal streets.
According to historians in Dagbon, the Bugum Festival is celebrated by the descendants of the Mole-Dagbani Kingdom in the first month of the lunar calendar to commemorate how a son of a great Dagbon chief went missing all of a sudden and the entire community was dispatched to search for him in the night with torchlight, amid chanting and drumming.
The volunteers, after a thorough search, found the prince deeply asleep under a tree and took him to the eminent chief’s palace. However, the chief, out of dismay, declared the tree an evil tree for taking his son away.
Individuals who helped in the search of the prince were made to throw their torchlights at the ‘evil tree’ in order to shame it, and the chief set the day for celebration.