December 4, 2020

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MY HISTORY, MY HERITAGE: KNOWING THE GUANS (The Gonjas Part 3)

4 min read
Jakpa and his men now pushed eastward between the White and Black Volta Rivers, routing Kahu (Laribanga) and the big town of Kurase, South-West of Damongo mostly occupied by a section of the Dagbamba.
Gonjas-2

Gonjas-2

Jakpa and his men now pushed eastward between the White and Black Volta Rivers, routing Kahu (Laribanga) and the big town of Kurase, South-West of Damongo mostly occupied by a section of the Dagbamba.

From there, Jakpa traversed to Kaniamase, the capital of the then Kania people, and captured the town, in the process of killing their king at the palace and renaming Kaniamase (Gbipe or Buipe).

The army now marched on Mpaha and encountered the Debre people. A fierce battle ensued at Kapiese near Mpaha, in which the N’nyamase were conquered.

Jakpa proceeded to Tuluwe through Tamanklan (a place were Jakpa rested before crossing the river, in the process forgetting his mat on which he rested, hence the village’s derivation of its name).

From there he came to Nyilalan and met the Apere (Apir) people of Tuluwe area (Singbin) and overran them.

He continued towards Kafaba, and while still on the western side of the Black Volta, the leader of the town went to meet Jakpa in advance with peace overtures and sending drinking water consisting of mashed Fura fermented porridge with drinking water and honey.

Jakpa, in appreciation of the leader’s overtures reciprocated by promoting him as peace-maker by giving him a blanket, redcap, and a scepter as a symbol of authority for he the Kafabawura to have the power and authority to evoke peace and settle or reconcile any feuding parties or misunderstandings arising thereof in any part of Gonja with his presence.

At Kafaba, Jakpa met a thriving cola-nut trade market. From there he subdued all the inhabitants along the way to Salaga, which was then inhabited by the Nanumba people.

The Nanumbas were driven away, and the kola trade was transferred from Kafaba to Salaga which later became an emporium for the slave trade and other products.

The Gonjas, however, moved a little out of Salaga and built Kpembe town. Jakpa’s insatiable spirit of conquest and land drove him again eastward to conquer the Kpamkpamba and Bassari people.

He took prisoners and captured thousands of oxen, sheep and goats.
The captives were planted between Nchumuru, Salaga and Nanumba, to till the land and supply the Kpembiwura with foodstuffs.

To consolidate his hold and also place a check on the Dagbamba expansion bid southward of Tamale, Jakpa’s fifth son living with his older brother Tuluwewura Abass was then equipped and took Kasugu from the Dagambas by conquest.

After years of rest Jakpa contemplated fighting the Asante, but his men murmured due to fatique of war.

He lated defied them despite warnings against fighting the Asantes. A raging battle then took place, in which Jakpa was shot in the ankle and was morgally wounded.

Before his death, Jakpa instructed that his body be sent to his sister in Mankuma, for burial.

On reaching Aburumase (meaning, ‘I am now weak and dying’), Jakpa was very sick. When they got to Trekpa (‘I have now reached my end), he died. On reaching Gbipe, now spelt Buipe (Gbi meaning ‘heavy’ or ‘weight load’) the corpse was going bad, so Jakpa was interred in Gbipe.

Since it was Jakpa’s express wish to have his final rest at his sister’s home in Mankuma, it has become customary since then, for all Yagbonwuras to be entombed at Mankuma, a village on the main Sawla-Bole road.

It was decided that the successor should be a prince of the chief with a large household and plenty of followers. The Chief of Kong was elected. Hence the tow Nyanga is called ‘Yagbon’, i.e. ‘big household’, and this became the name of the skin and title ‘Yagbonwura’
It was not until 1944 tat the capital of the Ngbanye was moved from Nyanga to Damongo
It will be noticed that before Sumailsa Ndewura Jakpa’s exploits and conquests fo the present-day Gonja, five other kings had ascended the throne in the present Gonja area.

Jakpa conquered them and became the first Ngbanye king, as confirmed by Mr. Blair below:
Mr Blair, in an attempt to compare the histories of the Dagbamba and Ngbanye Kingdoms writes, ‘In the former the Dagbamba came in as a tribe or group of clans, slew many of the Tindanas and empressed their language on the people of the land, aboriginal Grunshi and Guan, or driving them out as in the case of the Konkombas, etc.

‘On the other hand, from the evidence at hand, the Kagbanye were a mere raiding band of Mandingo stock who conquered the Guan, Vagalla and Apir countries, but owing to their small numbers, could do no more than establish a ruling dynasty over adopting Guan, the language of one of the conquered tribes.

The only evidence of their origin is in the few Mandingo words now surviving in the Gbanya language’.

Watch out for Part 4….

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.

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