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The Mole-Dagbani, primarily located in the Upper and Northern regions of Ghana, make up 16 percent of the current Ghanaian population and accounts for the majority of the Muslim population in Ghana. Of the Mole-Dagbani there are five subcultures, four of which trace themselves to the same ancestry. They are the Mamprusi, Mossi, Dagomba, Nanumba, and Gonja. The languages they speak are classified as a variation of Gur.
It is said by oral tradition that the founding ancestor of all the Mole-Dagbani migrated from north-east of the Lake Chad to the south of the Niger bend, Zamfara, which is modern day Nigeria. Due to the political and military superiority, the ancestors were able to easily wield smaller individual tribes into their kingdom. The Mamprusi, Mossi, Dagomba, and Nanumba all have passed down the same story of origin by means of oral tradition. The story begins with a warrior princess whose father restricts her from marrying in fear of losing her military knowledge. She flees on a stallion, becomes weary and finds refuge and sleep under a tree. A prince of another tribe finds her there, too beautiful to resist and rapes her in her sleep. From this a child is conceived who grows to later marry, producing a son.
This son, Gbewa was to become the first leader of the kingdom. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his own son Zirile upon his death. At the death of Zirile conflicts erupted over his successior among his three surviving brothers and their supporters, which thus led to a civil war and split within the tribe. One formed the kingdom of Maprussi and the other two formed the Dagomba and Nanumba. The Mamprusi later divided, thus forming the Mossi. The fifth group, Gonja, migrated from what is currently Mali near the end of the 16th century.
The Mole-Dagbani are very reclusive due to their Muslim beliefs and cultural practices. Also, their culture is highly dependent upon oral tradition, so there is little text on the culture for researchers to obtain. These two factors make it difficult for one to report on the culture. It is puzzling however that more western anthropologist have not investigated this region and its people.
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