The Gonja people engage in the cultivation of some fields with various kinds of millet and some maize.
The Nchumuru people and some Gonjas also do some farming, but mainly hunt and fish.
The main product of commercial value is shea-butter, which is still exported down to the Coast and which can be found in every market, shaped like a sugar cone and wrapped in leaves. Shea-butter is very easy to make: the fruit is roasted, pounded and then boiled in large pots. The fat which swims on top is the liquid form of the product. In smaller quantities, sesame seeds are also exported from Gonja.
Gonjas are very religious people. They are mostly Muslims, and Islamic worshipers make up about 58% of the population. Ethnic traditional religious worshipers constitute 38% of the Gonja population. The Gonjas have their belief in the Supreme Being, ‘Ebore’, nature spirits, and traditional powers. The remaining 4% of the Gonjas are Christians.
Among the Gonja, chieftaincy occupies an important place in their lives. All Gonjas acknowledge one Paramount who resides in the village of Yabum, the Yabumwura. Succession to chiefships is based on patrilineal descent. Such offices circulate among the descendants of Ndewura Jakpa, the reputed founder of the state. The process involves rotation and circulation between village gates. Gonja society is, however, exclusively patrilineal. Patrilateral and matrilateral norms are at play in the affiliation of individuals to kin-groups. Kinship fosterage was practiced in the past and may continue to some extent.
The East Gonja District as a whole has the potential for tourism development. The district is endowed with a lot of natural attractions, historic places, and cultural features that are of considerable interest to tourists. Salaga, the district capital, is famous for the role it played during the slave trade era as the main market centre for slaves. The present township and its surrounding villages have a lot to depict what actually transpired in the past.
Although some of the artifacts of the slaves cannot be traced due to the ignorance of certain individuals, which has led to the destruction of these treasured items, quite a number of them have been preserved. The site for the actual market place still remains in Salaga. At this place, one can still find the huge baobab tree against which the slaves were chained.
Some of the shackles used in chaining these slaves can be located at the Kpembeaur’s palace, about one kilometer from Salaga. Most of the wells dug by the slaves can also be located in the various parts of the township.
Other attractions that can be found in the town include the river where slaves were bathed before they were led into the town and another one where dead bodies were deposited.
The traditional cultures of the people of the district are also an important attraction to tourists. The Damba and Fire Festivals of the Gonja – often associated with drumming and dancing – attract a lot of people. Other attractions of interest to tourists include traditional religious beliefs and practices that prevail in some rural areas.
At Akamade, a village across the Volta Lake, there is a footprint believed to be that of the wife of Ndewura Jakpa, the great warrior and founder of the Gonjaland. Also at Lantinkpa, a village in the northeastern part of the district, a similar mark attributed to the same person can be found.
East Gonja has one of the biggest slave markets in Ghana and also the highest density of hand-dug wells used for the bathing of Slaves and the Slave Raiders.
Ethnologue 2010, History and Traditions of the Gonja, by J. A. Braimah; H. H. Tomlinson et al.