From my series of African people from A to Z with the letter D, I will present in this article the Dagomba also called the Dagbamba people.
Who are the members of the Dagomba?
The members of the Dagomba represent the largest ethnic group in seven of the thirteen districts of the Northern region of Ghana. In the 14th century the Dagomba Kingdom was founded by invaders of the North, centralized around Yendi which was once located east of the White Volta River.
In the 1600's the conquest of the Gonja people reduced the kingdom's size. At the end of the 17th century the Asante had subjugated the Dagomba people until the British forces defeated the Asante. Today the Dagomba remain powerful people divided into two sub groups with the Nanumba people.
Where are the Dagomba people located?
Their land is called Dagbon located in Tamale; the capital city of the Northern region of Ghana on Africa. The Dagomba people add up almost 52% of the population of Ghana.
Tamale is reputed as one of the fastest growing cities in West Africa. The palaces of the Gukpe Naa and the Dapkema are found in the center of the city.
How do they live?
The Dagomba people's leader and inheritance are patriarchal and patrilineal. They live in a small village community in a circular pattern. Around the village are found their farmlands and bush. In the center of the village the chief's home is found; a domed hut higher than the other huts facing his.
Commoners are scattered in compounds traditionally built of mud and thatch. The men live in rectangular rooms and women in circular rooms.
How do the Dagomba people communicate?
The Dagomba speak a language called Dagbane (Dagbani). Dagbane is a language of the Gur branch of the Niger-Congo language family. This language was once recognized as officially of the Northern territories under British rule. The Dagbane language serves commonly as a bridge language throughout a large part of the North.
How do they survive?
The Dagomba people survive mainly by seasonal farming of over 32 varieties of crops such as: sorghum, millet, corn (maize), yams, and peanuts (groundnuts). They use the manure of the village cattle to fertilize the soil. Women often assist in harvesting while the work is mostly done by men.
The Dagomba also practice:
- administrative and managerial work
- craftsmen are skilled tailors, traders, and makers of ropes and mats
- some specialize as blacksmiths, butchers, and barbers
What characteristics define their diversity?
The Dagomba are known for their sophisticated oral culture which is accompanied and largely supported by drums and other musical instruments.
The talking drum (known as: dondon, gongon or lunna) is used in Ghana at funerals and historical ceremonies where its elaborate rhythms and inflected pitch speak proverbial drum poetry, telling the history of its people's origins, migration, battles and genealogy of their royal rulers.
The lovely part of this characteristic that defines their diversity is the fact that music for them is throughout the performance of everyday tasks such as fishing or cultivating crops.
The Dagomba celebrate a festival called "Bugun", which means "fire" or "hell"; to honor their ancestors.
This article is a simple example of the Dagomba people. I just wanted to present them and leave in the reader a thirst of knowing more about our brothers around the world, in particular African people. Below is more information and an interesting video which transport the viewer to Ghana.
Blessings to all and stay tuned for the next article with the letter F of the A to Z series of African people.
© Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill
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