|Regions with significant populations|
|Kingdom of Dagbon, Northern region, Ghana|
|Related ethnic groups|
|subgroup of the Guang people|
This page discusses the Ghanaian kingdom of Gonja; for uses for the word Ganja, see Ganja (disambiguation)
Gonja (also Ghanjawiyyu) was a kingdom in northern Ghana; the word can also refer to the people of this kingdom. The Gonja are a Guan people who have been influenced by Akan, Mande and Hausa people. With the fall of the Songhai Empire (c. 1600), the Mande Ngbanya clan moved south, crossing the Black Volta and founding a city at Yagbum. Under the leadership of Naba'a, the Ngbanya expanded rapidly, conquering several neighbors in the White Volta valley and beginning a profitable gold trade with the Akan states through nearby Begho. By 1675, the Gonja established a paramount chief, called the Yagbongwura, to control the kingdom. The Ngbanya dynasty has controlled this position from its founding to the present day, with only two brief interregnums. The current Yagbongwura, Yagbongwura Tuntumba Sulemana Jakpa Bore Essa, has held his position since 2010.
Precolonial Gonja society was stratified into castes, with a ruling class, a Muslim trader class, an animist commoner class, and a slave class. Its economy depended largely on trade in slaves from Central Africa and kola nuts, particularly through the market town of Salaga, sometimes called the "Timbuktu of the South."
- Goody, Esther and Jack Goody. "The Circulation of Women and Children in Northern Ghana." Man, New Series. 2.2 (1967): 226-248.
- Wilks, Ivor. "Wangara, Akan and Portuguese in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries II: The Struggle for Trade." Journal of African History 23:4 (1982): 463-472.