Tuesday 5 September 2023


The Kingdom of Dagbon is one of the oldest organised traditional kingdoms in Ghana founded by the Dagomba people (Dagbamba) in the 15th century. During its rise, it comprised, at various points, the Northern, Upper West, Upper East, Savannah Region and North East regions of present-day Ghana. It’s territories varied over time. The kingdom was formed around the fourteenth century when a group of Mossi knights who came from the North imposed themselves on the local people who inhabited their lands of conquest. The exact timing and circumstances of the kingdom's formation may be subject to historical interpretation and further research. Accounts of the kingdom's origins, rulers and wars of conquest are preserved in drum histories.

The ancient Dagbon kingdom occupied an extensive area in the current North-Eastern Ghana, an area of savannah crossed by two rivers: the Volta Bianco to the West and the Oti to the East. The kingdom was ruled by a king known as Ya-Na who was considered sacred and was believed to have supernatural powers. The kingdom was divided into two parts: Yendi and Karaga. Yendi was considered the capital city of Dagbon.

The kingdom had a complex social structure with different classes of people. The king was at the top followed by his family members and then other nobles. The commoners were at the bottom. The kingdom had a rich culture with music and dance being an important part of their lives. The Dagomba people are known for their drumming skills which are used for communication purposes, and are integral to their culture.

Dagbon followed an unwritten national constitution based on customary laws and traditions, with a hierarchical governance structure led by chiefs and sub-chiefs at various levels.

Land tenure in Dagbon was primarily communal, with chiefs and families holding authority over specific areas.

The kingdom still exists, without its former standing army. It is blessed with fertile lands and is known for its agricultural resources, cultivating crops such as millet, maize, yams, and shea nuts. In terms of its neighbors, Dagbon has historically maintained both cooperative and competitive relationships with neighboring kingdoms, including Gonja, Mamprugu, and Nanumba. 

The kingdom has rich cultural traditions, and marriage customs in Dagbon involve complex rituals and negotiations between families.

Music still plays an integral role in the kingdom, with the Dagomba people inventing several traditional musical instruments such as the xylophone-like gyil and the gonjey fiddle.

Architecturally, the kingdom features distinct earth-built structures called tatale, which serve as ancestral shrines and ceremonial spaces within the community.

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