Gonja people

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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, Bawah Abudu Doshie, has held his position since 2000.

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[1] and kola nuts, particularly through the market town of Salaga, sometimes called the "Timbuktu of the South."

The Gonja language is a Tano language within the Kwa languages family, closely related to Akan languages.[2]

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