Ankos Masquerade in Takoradi

“Colorfully dressed figures at Ankos Masquerade festival in Takoradi street.
Group in colorful costumes with intricate patterns at a cultural festival.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Ankos Masquerade Festival in Ghana’s twin coastal cities of Sekondi-Takoradi, which happens on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Like in many carnivals all over the world, the Ankos groups, fancy clubs as they are called, spend the year in advance preparing their costumes, their music and their dance moves. On the day of the event the clubs move through the streets celebrating, dancing, and facing off when they cross paths with each other. Ankos has a real family vibe, with spectators joining in, and everyone from mamas to tiny kids parading in costume.

Group marches down the street in vibrant parade costumes with orange, yellow, and blue patterns.
Colorful masquerade participants pose in a lively street parade.
Group in street with colorful costumes, two folks wear gorilla masks at festive event.

The costumes are quite uniform, but those of each group differ in the details. Many many layers of thin brightly colors fabric  and ricrac are sewn loosely to a base, building up dense patterns and textures. I’m not even sure what to call this… free appliqué? There is great footage of tailors working on the costumes here. I could stare at this stuff all day long.

The dance moves are tight, with a lot of high stepping and fancy footwork. A nice video of the style is here. Where does this come from? What does it mean? I really don’t know. People are enjoying, that is about all I was certain about. The brass band makes it easy to imagine at least some military connection to this party? Maybe this lengthy interview in Fante reveals more? I couldn’t say.

Group in festive colorful costumes, one person is holding a Canadian flag.
Group from behind in colorful regalia with geometric and floral motifs.
Two individuals in colorful costumes and masks, one with peace sign, other with street food.