Gonjas-2

MY HISTORY, MY HERITAGE: KNOWING THE GUANS (The Gonjas Part 2)

…… From the time of the taking of the oath on the Qur’an, open hostilities between Chari Manwura and Lata Dii Ngoro Jakpa ceased. In 1675/6 Lata Dii Ngoro Jakpa abdicated and handed over the sovereignty to his son who was given the title of ‘Ndewura Jakpa’.

Lata Dii Ngoro Jakpa became Burrewura in 1634/5 and therefore sovereign of the Lata Ngbanya (Gonjas) for 41 years when he died in 1681/2.

It was Ndewura Jakpa who expanded the Gonja Empire by conquest. All the land he conquered was Dagomba territory.

Limu, Manwura’s brother who came after Amoah was still alive at the time Lata Jakpa(Burrewura) handed over his sovereignty to his son Ndewura Jakpa.

Limu had expected that he would have succeeded Lata Jakpa. Sumaila Ndewura Jakpa, the founder of the Gonja Kingdom, was himself initially a trader from Malle or Made, according to a source.

At a point in time he became bankrupt. Just about that time he had consulted a Mallam about his fortunes in life.

The Mallam bluntly told Jakpa that even though he came from the royal family, he would never ascend the throne. Instead, his fortune was in foreign lands, where he would attain rises and would establish a kingdom for himself, his children and followers.

Jakpa was so convinced of the Mallam’s prophecy that he mobilized tens of thousands of fighting contingent and other followers and set out around the sixteenth century.

From Mandi or Gizi, both sources affirm that Sumaila Ndewura Jakpa and his army, on reaching Jah, the first town of call, Jakpa came into contact with Fati Morukpe, a very powerful Mallam, and made friends with him.

The ‘Kpe’ in the Mallam’s name stands for his albino colour and features. Jakpa solicited his company for his impending adventures so that he would be an intermediary to offer prayers unto God, so as to divert mishaps and evil in his exploits.

If the offer was accepted, Jakpa promised to pay a tribute of a hundred pairs of every domestic animal including one hundred slaves, cattle, horses, and gowns.

In the ensuring friendship that developed, anywhere Jakpa conquered and left behind a son Fati Morukpe also replicated with a son.

Fati Morukpe’s descendants now form the Nsuawura’s lineage in the Yagbonwura’s palace and also form the Sakpari (Mallam) section in every division.

Ndewura Jakpa began his conquests by first moving west from the Dibir country where his father founded his state.

On reaching Bole he was told of a powerful Fetish or Shrine Priest who must be overpowered at Mankuma,the capital of Gbipe (Buipe) before he could settle down. 

Consequently, Ndewura Jakpa marched on Mankuma, and after a great display of black power and show of strength on both sides, he defeated the Fetish Priest and planted his sister and nephew there.

His sister was subsequently given the title Mankumawuriche (Mankuma Queen) and his nephew Kakulasewura (meaning ‘an eavesdropper to tap information from the Fetish Priest for Jakpa’). Jakpa then overran the Vagalla people who largely occupied the place.

He marched through Sakpa  into  Ntereso-Gbanfu, western Gonja (the Bole Division). There was now open hostility between the Lata Ngbanya and the Manwura’s group, and a man called Sulemana became an active leader of the Manwura’s people.

Limu might have been too old at that time to be able to give effective leadership.

At Sakpa, the elders of Bel (Bole), Mandari and Gbenfu met Ndewura Jakpa and surrendered to Jakpa.

The town of Bel was renamed ‘Bole’, meaning, ‘Submission’ in Gonja. After he had settled affairs in Bole and appointed a Chief (the Bolewura) for the area, Ndewura marched north.

Jakpa now pushed into the Wala country, defeated the people, and chose Nyanga as the capital of the conquered lands, and named it Gbinipowura-pe. He then partitioned the land among his sons whom he made chiefs to administer these areas.

This Wala country included Kong and Kandia areas.
Jakpa now turned his attention on the Tampruma people on the Western banks of the White Volta River.

These Tamprumas were subjects of the Dagomba Kings who appointed their representatives to administer the area and also control the salt-making by the natives in Burugu (later to be known as Daboya by the Ngbanye).

Jakpa went into combat with the Dagombas, dislodging them on the western side and following them up to the Eastern side where there ensued a fierce battle, and very heavy casualties were suffered on both sides.

In the end, the Dagombas were defeated and their King Na Dariziogo slain.

Many Dagomba towns were captured, including Gbirimani (Birimani), which came under the jurisdiction of Kpembi and Kasulyili under the Wasipewura.

Ndewura Jakpa then placed Burugu (Daboya) under the authority of his daughter who accepted the title Burugu-Wurche (Queen of Burugu). She was left with a small garrison under her command.

The strategic importance of Daboya to the Ngbanye and also to the Dagbamba was in no doubt because it was the gateway to the western corridor of the food producing country of the Tamplumas who incidentally were also a very brave fighting force who had to be conquered and assimilated strategically to act as a buffer to a Dagbamba expansion bid to the west of the river.

Burugu/Daboya itself was economically and socially important due to the salt making industry and the resourcefulness of the river which earned the town its name Daboya (meaning our brother is better than us).

These benefits indicated above, and other factors urged the Dagbambas to continue to make persistent military incursions into Daboya and surrounding villages.

This necessitated the removal of the Wasipewura by Jakpa, from Wasipe in the Bole area to Daboya, to reinforce the garrison and control the salt-making industry. The Daboya chief continued to be called Wasipewura to this day.

Meanwhile, Jakpa had conquered the Biegas (Beso Nsoko of the Banda people) after initial resistance, before making inroads into the Bole area, as mentioned earlier.

From Bole, Jakpa also penetrated the Bamboi area where the Mos easily submitted themselves to his authority by presenting him with 30 kegs of gun-powder without a fight.

Watch out for Part 3….

Sources:

https://molenationalpark.org/the-gonjas.php
http://archive.lib.msu.edu
http://www.questia.com/library/102539893/history-and-traditions-of-the-gonja
Ethnologue 2010, History and Traditions of the Gonja, by J. A. Braimah; H. H. Tomlinson et al.

Sokynewsgh.com / SOKY TV / Ghana

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