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This page discusses the Ghanaian kingdom of Gonja; for uses for the word Ganja, see Ganja (disambiguation)

Regions with significant populations
Kingdom of Dagbon, Northern region, Ghana
Related ethnic groups
subgroup of the Guang people

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, 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 NamesEdit

No Common Usage Full name Literal Meaning Usage / Figurative Meaning
1 Abere Anyo 'Abere Anyo Two human bodies Unity is strength / two heads are better than one
2 Achaŋso Achaŋso ni ba bi dari It's because of something that one is being respected A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness
3 Achulo Achulo ? ?
4 Achintri Ka chini mi tri to Familiarity breads contempt ?
5 Afiso Bomine ewo afiso ne ebore wo awurso Man proposes and God disposes ?
6 Amabaŋye Amabaŋye You can't open one's heart to see what's inside ?
7 Amankwa Amankwa a? ?
8 Amati Ebore b'agbembi matie God's paths don't close ?
9 Amo elema Amo elema They make me OR that's who I am ?
10 Amoma OR Allela Allela e-moma Its goodness or kindness that killed me ?
12 Aso wura Aso wura Property owner ?
13 Ataawa Ataawa Female twins ?
14 Awale Awale It is good ?
15 Awaare Awaare ? ?
16 Awalekiye Awalekiye Praise when its good
17 Awo n'nchƐ Awo nchƐ ni ba nyƐnye a?
18 Awo n'nka nne Awo n'nka nne Everything is everywhere - both good and bad
19 Awo omoto OR Brakumu Awo omoto OR Brakumu Everyone has (or brings) their luck
20 Awoshe Awoshe Everything has a fault, good or bad
22 Awoshie Awoshie it's (become) cool, peaceful, under control, etc.
23 Ayinsah n ye ne se Ebore I have said it to the Lord I give all to God
24 Badoh Badoh a?
25 Bakoaso Bakoa so Have things
26 Boreginkpr Ebore Ginkpr ma God is leading me It is God who leads me
27 Banemu ƐyƐ Banemu eye ne mbia nu Elders have said and children have heard
28 Bangben Bangben They will be tired OR they'll try (but fail)
29 Bashaso Bashaso Hang on Hang on to God
30 Benyepo ƐyƐ Benyepo ƐyƐ It is those who know you who have said (only your friend knows your secret)
31 Bi awur'bi Bi awur'bi ni an chi na Be careful and we will sit together
32 Bin'ka Bi mon ka Don't trust completely
33 Bonyaŋso Bonyaŋso Respectful
34 Booma Boomaso nnana Cover me grand parent God cover me grand parent (mostly used for women)
35 BorƐ BorƐ Rain
36 BorƐ chie BorƐ chie a?
37 BorƐ ena sa BorƐ ena sa Its God who gives
38 BorƐ enye BorƐ enye a?
39 BorƐ enyi-enchi BorƐ enyi-enchi It is God who knows the time (God's time is the best)
40 BorƐ nyekpƐ EborƐ nyi kpi ni ne nwo Lightning has shined and revealed my enemy
41 BorƐsa Ebore Ɛsa It is God that has given God's gift
42 BorƐ masa alowe Ebore masa alowe God doesn't give completely (no one is created perfect)
43 BorƐ walae BorƐ walae God is Good
44 BorƐ wƆ BorƐ wƆ God's own
45 BorƐ wu BorƐ wu God has seen
46 B'sha anye B'sha anye They like us
47 Chepura Chepura a?
48 Daa mato Daa mato Character cannot be changed / thrown away
49 Dambatu K ful dey se na ne anye ba to We came to meet the moon
50 Dari Dari Twins (unisex, i.e. can be used by females or males)
52 Dariche Dariche Born after twins (equivalence of Dari for men) Born after twins
53 Dokilebi Dokilebi Literally you've sown a bad seed; Figurative - you reap what you sow
54 Dranaya Dra e na ye Old things speak for themselves
55 Ebanyepo Eba nye po a?
56 Ebo ƐyƐ Ebo ƐyƐ It's the room that has said Only your friend / family knows your secret
57 EdonbonƐ EdonbonƐ What has the enemy done? The enemy might think they are punishing you but God has blessed u already
58 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
59 Ekomato E ko ma to No one is useless
60 Ekone oto Eko ne oto piye nba to fo It's happened to someone before you (you are / will not be the first)
62 Ekoso Eko-so ni ba nyeti e-ko Because of someone that we have patience for another
63 Ekumpo Ekumpo The Protector
64 Ekunfo Ebore ekunfo God the Protector
65 Elempo Elempo God the Mighty / the Strong One
66 EsapƆ EsapƆ God the Giver
67 Esa ewƆ lanto / Esa ewoeboto Esa ewƆ lanto / Esa ewoeboto a?
68 Etimpo Ebore e-na eten awura keshekama God is able to do everything / God is able / The Able One
69 EwanyƐ Esa nƐ nyƐ, mo e na wora He who is blessed, much is expected
70 Ewale Ebore wale God is Good
72 EwonyƐ Ewo nye ma wo It is the one who has who does what they want
73 Ewunio Ewura mo nio Chief's mother / Queen Mother
74 Ewuntomah Ewura mo to mah Chief's name sake
75 Ewura Ewura Chief
76 Eyri modon Eyri modon ela kulƆ The body's enemy is sickness; Man has no emeny except disease
77 Footou Fotou The Family will spread / extend (fo)
78 Gbeadese Kashinteng desay ne efe la ekilti The truth is always quite
79 Gyem che Gyem che Friday born woman
80 GyƐma alela Gye maashen a le la Talk well of me
81 Jinapor Ji ne apor bomu so Win, and overcome them
82 Gyeowo Gyeowo God's cobra aims far
83 Kakore Ebore ben nkore, ban lan n'gben God's drums; they'll drum until they get tired God's Drum, they will drum till they get tired
84 Kanagboŋ Kanagboŋ Big family
85 Kanamo Kanamo Which family / clan?
86 Kananmaluwe Kananmaluwe The family doesn't end The family doesn't end
87 Kasha Kasha Love
88 Keche e-basa Keche e-basa It pains to be a lady
89 Kenyiti Kenyiti Patience
90 Keshie eko Men ki shie eko I don't hate anyone I don't hate anyone
92 Keshie wale ? ? ?
93 K'fantaŋ Ebore be k'fantaŋ God's Leaf
94 Kginginfra K'gin gyan fra boƆ ebo fuloŋ A wretched house is better than none
95 Koji Bakra ko ne k'naŋ e sha fo Be wealthy and family would like you
96 Kotochi ? ?
97 Kowuribi Ko wuuri bi small chief
98 Kramoase Kramoase ?a
99 Kurabaso Kurabaso ?a
100 Kurayerito Kurayerito Be energetic Be energetic
102 Lempoche Lempoche Abled woman
103 Lomashie Lowu ma shen ne ba sa be gye bo mo komo Death doesn't allow us to enjoy ourselves
104 Longefiye Longefiye Make yours well / Mind your own business
105 Longesai Longe nsa a-nye Make it well for us
106 Maaman Maaman a?
107 Mankpa Mankpa Twins (females)
108 Mankre Mankre When a women gets pregnant before her menses (either before the first menses, or in between pregnancies)
109 Mantenso Mantenso I'll not forget
110 Mapoche Mapoche I don't boost
111 Masa-agben Ebore masa agben God doesn't tire giving
112 Masape Ebore masa n k pe God doesn't give completely (no one is created perfectly)
113 Matuamo Matuamo I wouldn't be bothered
114 Mbema ? ?
115 Nefa Nefa Blessing
116 Njo amonchƐ Njo amonchƐ I'm waiting for that day
117 Nkpamafo Nkpa ma fo ne an gye a mo Life is not sufficient
118 Nndefeso Ebore de feso God is watching (protecting) you God is your protector
119 Ntoba Nn tutu ba My father has come (reincarnation) My father has come
120 Obosu Obosu The greatest
122 Okonfo Ebore/enemu be kum fo God protects you God protects you
123 Owoshie Owoshie Its cool, calm, peaceful, over etc. It is cool, calm or over
124 Pumaya Edon pu fa ya to Your enemy is not far, they are right "under your legs" Your enemies are not far, they are right 'under your legs' or beneath you
125 Safo Ebore sa fo God has given / blessed you God has blessed you
126 Sha moye Sha mo eye Everyone loves their own ???
127 Samafon Samafon Don't worry Not to worry
128 Sorkowule Sor ko wule ? ?
129 Shuŋ nkpa Shuŋ nkpa Cry (pray) for long life
130 Techira Techira The person with good standing (Techi for men)
132 Titi aka Fo bi titi e-ka a?
133 Tuntunba Tun tun ba It met others before you Nothing new under; you are not the first
134 YƆmba YƆmba Go and come (reincarnation)

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

  1. ^ a b Danver, Steven L. (2015). Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia 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.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ The Evolution of War: A Study of Its Role in Early SocietiesBy Maurice R. Davie
  4. ^ Aspect and Modality in Kwa Languages. Google Books.