Gonja people

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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 founded in 1675 by Sumaila Ndewura Jakpa.[1] 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. The Gonja kingdom was originally divided into sections overseen by male siblings of Sumaila Ndewura Jakpa including their children and grandchildren.[1]

Under the leadership of Naba'a, who reigned from 1552/3 to 1582/3, the Ngbanya dynasty of Gonja was founded. The capital was established at Yagbum.[2]

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, Tuntumba Sulemana Jakpa Bore Essa, has held his position since 2010.

Gonja chiefs and elders at the Volta River project travelling exhibition(1950)

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[3] 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.[4]

Gonja Names[edit]

No Common Usage Full name Literal Meaning Usage / Figurative Meaning
1 Achaŋso Achaŋso ni ba bi dari Its because of something that one is being respected A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness
2 Achulo Achulo  ?  ?
2 Achintri Ka chini mi tri to Familiarity breads contempt  ?
4 Amabaŋye Amabaŋye You can't open one's heart to see what's inside  ?
5 Amankwa Amankwa a?  ?
6 Amati Ebore b'agbembi matie God's paths don't close  ?
7 Amo elema Amo elema They make me OR that's who I am  ?
8 Amoma OR Allela Allela e-moma Its goodness or kindness that killed me  ?
9 Aso wura Aso wura Property owner  ?
10 Ataawa Ataawa Female twins  ?
11 Awale Awale It is good  ?
12 Awaare Awaare  ?  ?
13 Awalekiye Awalekiye Praise when its good
14 Awo n'nchƐ Awo nchƐ ni ba nyƐnye a?
15 Awo n'nka nne Awo n'nka nne Everything is everywhere - both good and bad
16 Awo omoto OR Brakumu Awo omoto OR Brakumu Everyone has (or brings) their luck
17 Awoshe Awoshe Everything has a fault, good or bad
18 Awoshie Awoshie it's (become) cool, peaceful, under control, etc.
19 Badow Badow a?
20 Bakoaso Bakoaso a?
21 Banemu ƐyƐ Banemu eye ne mbia nu Elders have said and children have heard
22 Bangben Bangben They will be tired OR they'll try (but fail)
23 Benyepo ƐyƐ Benyepo ƐyƐ It is those who know you who have said (only your friend knows your secret)
24 Bi awur'bi Bi awur'bi Be careful with what u do
25 Bin'ka Bi mon ka Don't trust completely
26 Bonyaŋso Bonyaŋso Respectful
27 Booma Boomaso nnana a?
28 BorƐ BorƐ Rain
29 BorƐ chie BorƐ chie a?
30 BorƐ ena sa BorƐ ena sa Its God who gives
31 BorƐ enye BorƐ enye a?
32 BorƐ enyi-enchi BorƐ enyi-enchi It is God who knows the time (God's time is the best)
33 BorƐ esa BorƐ esa God's gift
34 BorƐ masa alowe Ebore masa alowe God doesn't give completely (no one is created perfect)
35 BorƐ walae BorƐ walae God is Good
36 BorƐ wƆ BorƐ wƆ God's own
37 BorƐ wu BorƐ wu God has seen
38 B'sha anye B'sha anye They like us
39 Chepura Chepura a?
40 Daa mato Daa mato Character cannot be changed / thrown away
41 Dambatu K ful dey se na ne anye ba to We came to meet the moon
42 Dari Dari Twins (unisex, i.e. can be used by females or males)
43 Dariche Dariche a?
44 Dokilebi Dokilebi Literally you've sown a bad seed; Figurative - you reap what you sow
45 Ebanyepo Ebanyepo a?
46 Ebo ƐyƐ Ebo ƐyƐ It’s the room that has said Only your friend / family knows your secret
47 EdonbonƐ EdonbonƐ What has the enemy done? The enemy might think they are punishing you but God has blessed u already
48 Edonkufo Edon mo wo ku fo, e wu fo ba awato Your enemy is not far, they are close to you Only your friend / family knows your secret
49 Ekomato E ko ma to No one is useless
50 Ekone oto Eko ne oto piye nba to fo It's happened to someone before you (you are / will not be the first)
51 Ekoso Eko-so ni ba nyeti e-ko Because of someone that we have patience for another
52 Ekumpo Ekumpo The Protector
53 Ekunfo Ebore ekunfo God the Protector
54 Elempo Elempo God the Mighty / the Strong One
55 EsapƆ EsapƆ God the Giver
56 Esa ewƆ lanto / Esa ewoeboto Esa ewƆ lanto / Esa ewoeboto a?
57 Etimpo Ebore e-na eten awura keshekama God is able to do everything / God is able / The Able One
58 EwanyƐ Esa nƐ nyƐ, mo e na wora He who is blessed, much is expected
59 Ewale Ebore wale God is Good
60 EwonyƐ Ewo nye ma wo a?
61 Ewunio Ewura mo nio Chief's mother / Queen Mother
62 Ewuntomah Ewura mo to mah Chief's name sake
63 Ewura Ewura Chief
64 Eyri modon Eyri modon ela kulƆ The body's enemy is sickness; Man has no emeny except disease
65 Foto Foto Blessed
66 Gbeadese Kashinteng desay ne efe la ekilti The truth is always quite
67 Gyem che Gyem che a?
68 GyƐma alela Gye maashen a le la Talk well of me
69 Jinapor Ji ne apor bomu so Win, and overcome them
70 Gyeowo Gyeowo God's cobra aims far
71 Kakore Ebore ben nkore, ban lan n'gben God's drums; they'll drum until they get tired
72 Kanagboŋ Kanagboŋ Big family
73 Kanamo Kanamo Which family / clan?
74 Kananmaluwe Kananmaluwe The family doesn't end
75 Kasha Kasha Love
76 Keche e-basa Keche e-basa It pains to be a lady
77 Kenyiti Kenyiti Patience
78 Keshie eko Men ki shie eko I don't hate anyone
79 K'fantaŋ Ebore be k'fantaŋ God's Leaf
80 Kginginfra K'gin gyan fra boƆ ebo fuloŋ A wretched house is better than none
81 Koji Bakra ko ne k'naŋ e sha fo Be wealthy and family would like you
82 Kowuribi Ko wuuri bi small chief
83 Kramoase Kramoase  ?a
84 Kurabaso Kurabaso  ?a
85 Kurayerito Kurayerito Be energetic
86 Lempoche Lempoche Abled woman
87 Lomashie Lowu ma shen ne ba sa be gye bo mo komo Death doesn't allow us to enjoy ourselves
88 Longefiye Longefiye Make yours well / Mind your own business
89 Longesai Longe nsa a-nye Make it well for us
90 Maaman Maaman a?
91 Mankpa Mankpa Twins (females)
92 Mankre Mankre When a women gets pregnant before her menses (either before the first menses, or in between pregnancies)
93 Mantenso Mantenso I'll not forget
94 Mapoche Mapoche I don't boost
95 Masa-agben Ebore masa agben God doesn't tire giving
96 Masape Ebore masa n k pe God doesn't give completely (no one is created perfectly)
97 Matuamo Matuamo I wouldn't be bothered
98 Nefa Nefa Blessing
99 Njo amonchƐ Njo amonchƐ I'm waiting for that day
100 Nkpamafo Nkpa ma fo ne an gye a mo Life is not sufficient
101 Nndefeso Ebore de feso God is watching (protecting) you
102 Ntoba Nn tutu ba My father has come (reincarnation)
103 Obosu Obosu a?
104 Okonfo Ebore/enemu be kum fo God protects you
105 Owoshie Owoshie Its cool, calm, peaceful, over etc.
106 Pumaya Edon pu fa ya to Your enemy is not far, they are right "under your legs"
107 Safo Ebore sa fo God has given / blessed you
108 Samafon Samafon Don't worry
109 Shuŋ nkpa Shuŋ nkpa Cry (pray) for long life
110 Techira Techira a?
111 Titi aka Fo bi titi e-ka a?
112 YƆmba YƆmba Go and come (reincarnation)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  1. ^ a b Danver, Steven L. (2015). Native Peoples of the World: An Encylopedia of Groups, Cultures and Contemporary Issues. Routledge (published 10 Mar 2015). p. 34. ISBN 9781317464006. 
  2. ^ Wilks,Ivor. Wangara, Akan, and Portuguese in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1997). Bakewell, Peter, ed. Mines of Silver and Gold in the Americas. Aldershot: Variorum, Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 29–30. 
  3. ^ The Evolution of War: A Study of Its Role in Early SocietiesBy Maurice R. Davie
  4. ^ Aspect and Modality in Kwa Languages. books.google.com. Google Books.