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Oto (A Ghanaian Ceremonial Dish)

Life Story Club Contributor

Oto from Ghana is incredibly special to the people of Ghana. Especially those belonging to the Akan ethnic group. It is a celebratory dish, reserved for some of the most important days and festivals of the year, for example: birthdays, baby naming
ceremonies, marriage ceremonies, etc. It can also be served on any other ordinary day. Oto is simply mashed yam, but it is a very
important dish in my tradition. It is a ceremonial dish.

It is normally prepared during big ceremonies, like when a girl has her first menses. At these ceremonies, the girl being honored eats with other people gathering around her. She has little children
surrounding her, all eating from the same pot. Sometimes, when they are eating, she closes her eyes and tries to reach out to the
children. The number of children she’s able to grab with her eyes closed indicates the number of children she’s going to bring forth.

Oto is also served on people’s birthdays. At every birthday, there’s an egg for the person having the birthday and the Oto. When it’s being served at a birthday party or ceremony, and there is an elder person around, someone is designated to initiate the food. They take some and they hit the celebrant’s lips three times before it’s opened for everyone to partake in it.

Oto often has eggs on top of it. You can either have the eggs sliced or leave it whole, and then you add peanuts to the center. You can also serve it with avocado.

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