Monday 23 May 2022

Kassena People of Ghana and Burkina Faso

Kassena People can be found in Ghana and Burkina Faso, they are part of the Gurunsi ethnic group and they grow crop such as millet, sorghum, yam, maize, peanuts which is ground nuts, beans also they are part of the Gur speaking people, they are related to the Frafra, Waala and others part of the Gur speaking group, It is said their neighbouring people include Mossi, Frafra, Winiama, Lobi and Nuna. Kassena people are recognized for their art forms which is considered to be magnificent wooden masks, In addition figures sculpted from clay, wood and various personal objects, ranging from jewellery to wooden stools are created to honour their Ancestors.

According to another account on Kassena, Kassena people belong to a larger subset group in northern Ghana and northern Burkina Faso, they are considered as Gurunsi, the Gurunsi is said to be people who share common histories, languages, political structures but it also carries pejorative overtones in local  usage, most of the Gurunsi live in modern day Burkina Faso, and the degree to which recent Kassena history differs from their northerly neighbors such as Nuna, Bwa and Winiama because It is believed they live in modern day Ghana these differences arose during the colonial systems differed in their administrative practices. 

Among Kassena farmers throughout the region practice slash and burn farming, using keri fields for approximately seven or eight years before , they are allowed to lie fallow for at least a decade. In Kassena family fields close to the women they grow cash crops, Including Sesame and tobacco, which are sold in local markets, men participate in hunting during the long dry season and According to all Africa’s account on Kassena People, the Chiefs and people of Navrongo traditional area in the Upper East Region of Ghana who are mainly Kassena and Nankani celebrate their annual Fao festival, Fao is celebrated each year by the people of Navrongo and it environs as a major thanksgiving to commemorate the end of the harvest season and also to thank God and the Ancestors for their provision of adequate rains throughout the cropping season, during Fao festival , Kasena-Nankani show their gratitude to God and their Ancestors as well for good health, protection during the cropping season. In Kassena tradition they live in fortified houses, women create beautiful abstract frescoes that decorate the walls of their mud huts , situated in a round formation the architecture is known for the beauty of its functional lines, the decorating of walls of their buildings is an Important part of their cultural legacy in the Kassena culture the wall decorating is always a community project done by the women and it's a very ancient practice that dates from the 16th Century AD. They build their houses entirely of local materials earth, wood, straw and cow dung is moistened to a state of perfect plasticity to shape almost vertical surfaces this modern day it is replaced by the use of the mud brick molding walls with foundations resting on large stone, the front doors are only about two feet tall, which keeps the sun out and makes the enemies difficult to strike, roofs are protected with wood ladders that are easily retracted and local beer is known as Dolo is a brewed at home after construction, women makes murals on the walls using colored mud and white chalks . 

The designs also serves to protect the walls themselves, the decorating is usually done just before the rainy season and protects the outside walls from the rain adding cow dung, compacting layers of mud, burnishing the final layer, and varnishing with nere all make the designs withstand wet weather, enabling the structures to last longer. According to the history of Navrongo, Navrongo is in the north east of North Ghana beside the Burkina Faso border, the town was founded around 1740 during the 19th Century , the town became an Important staging post on the Sahel caravan route at the beginning of the 20th Century and According to the oral traditions, Kassena and other groups part of Gurunsi originally came from Nubia Present day Sudan through Sahel their presence was not recorded until Mossi moved North around 1500, from the Northern Region of Present day Ghana, to create the various Mossi Kingdoms, diverse accounts relate to the numerous incursions by Mossi into the area.

Their Ancestors escaped the domination of the Mossi Kingdom , Navrongo was believed to have derived from the word ‘’ Na Voro ‘’ Naga” , Na meaning foot and Voro meaning Soft which later became known as Navrongo, The Oral history began with three brothers from Zecco, Butto was the eldest, Zakato and Sule was the youngest from Zecco, the three brothers set out to find better hunting after for a few days they came across a new small village called Telania, the three brothers from Zecco were Kassena and Nankani speakers while Telania people were Kassena speakers, Telania originated from Tielebe in Present day Burkina Faso, the three brothers became friends with Telania, they exchanged their gifts or expertise with one another, Butto and his brothers taking farming techniques and Telania people taking architecture. Butto went out for hunting in a new area and found that the ground was soft, he returned to his brothers he quoted ‘’ I’ve found a place where the ground is soft on the foot ‘’ Na Voro Naga”, which became known as Navrongo during Butto’s hunting sojourn he came across a grove of trees and rocks that reminded him of his ancestral shrine of Zecco, Butto moved near to a shrine which is now located in a Chief’s compound . The people of Navrongo prospered and grew despite expeditions It is believed Babatu Zato in 1850 who devastated the area , all villages wished to avoid Babatu Zato’s raids and he had to pay heavy tributes in cowries, cattles, even horses, It is believed in 1896 French troops led by Lieutenants Voulet and Chanoine intervened at the request of Hamaria, Babatu was driven southward to Wa, Upper West Region of Ghana, In Kassena Culture they perform cultural dances such as Nagila, Nagila is a dance genre that is known in the Upper East Region of Ghana, particularly among both Kassena and Frafra, It is a recreational solo dance with a driving rhythm a typical feature of the Nagila dance is stamping on the ground with the feet in a specific rhythmic pattern  and in Interaction with drums.  

Nagila dance is also short, the dancer takes centre and performs an energetic dance for about 30 seconds , this is followed by a break during which only the percussion Instruments play, when the dancer is ready again , the drums play louder and with more precision, the dance can be resumed in this way some six times by the same dancer takes on the floor , the dancer bends the upper part of the body forwards at the hips so that the thighs and back form almost a right angle, for women they bend their knees and bring their heels off, women hold their elbows either in front of her and behind her, the dance is performed for entertainment purposes, at public gatherings of Chiefs and during festivals. 

During Fao festival Kassena hunters perform a Fao harvest dance it is believed to be a Fao harvest ritual dance through Imitation of their prey, In this case of a buffalo, Kassena hunters It is believed they capture essential spirit of the animals in this way empower themselves to defeat the beasts when the time comes the hunters kill the beasts as a sign of bravery. Djongo is traditionally a dance of rivalry, vitality, strength and energy performed by Kassena to impress women other unknown dances include acrobatics performed in some parts of Burkina Faso, Kassena War dance, Ancient warrior dance, Djongo, they use rattles and string instruments also crocodiles are said to be totems of Kassena People and In Kassena Concept God distanced himself from human beings after creating the world, God gave Su the task of taking care of man, Su represented in both masks and statues which is similar to the Gurunsi belief. The use of masks is taught to the young Initiates return to the village and give offerings to Su and According to Derell an African- American It is said his Ancestors are Kassena captured from Present day Burkina Faso to USA during Slave trade, he traced his roots to Kassena and planned on visiting and connect to his Kassena heritage.

Below are Kassena natives who are well known as

1. Ghanaian- Norwegian Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, whose Ghanaian father is known as Jerry Kwarasey who hail from Navrongo, Upper East Region of Ghana and his Norwegian mother who hail from Oslo, Norway.

2. Ghanaian Football Legend Abedi Pele Ayew ,  Ghanaian Footballers Andre Dede Ayew, Ibrahim Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Kwame Ayew who hail from Paga, Upper East Region of Ghana.

3. Ghanaian Preacher Joseph Eastwood Anaba who hail from Navrongo, Upper East Region of Ghana, but live in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region of Ghana he is also known for his ministry in Bolgatanga.

4. Kofi Adda hail from Navrongo, Upper East Region of Ghana. 

5. Ghanaian Politician and Minister of Interior of Parliament Mark Woyongo hail from Navrongo, Upper East Region of Ghana.

6. Hawa Yakubu hail from Kulungugu, Upper East Region of Ghana.

In Kassena tradition the Tortoise helmet mask is used for Initiation ceremonies and festivals alongside they used instruments such as flutes and drums as well.

1 comment:

  1. - Thank you very much for this valuable information


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