Posted by / Saturday 28 October 2017 / No comments

The pre-colonial political orgaization of the Mole-Dagbani ethnic group of Ghana

The Mole-Dagbani ethnic group is spread within the political administrative regions of the northern sections of Ghana, namely, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions. 

The Mole-Dagbani ethnic group is made up of five sub-cultures, including the Mamprusi, Mossi, Dagomba, Nanumba and the Gonja.  They are believed to have originally migrated from the regions around Lake Chad somewhere around the 13th century.

The pre-colonial political organization of the Mole-Dagbani was segregated into a three-tier structure, namely, the Nayiri (Paramount Chief), the Sub-Chiefs, and the Village Herdsmen. 

The Paramount Chief (The Nayiri)
Each of the sub-cultures of the Mole-Dagbani, for example, the Mamprusi and the Gonja, had their Paramount Chiefs. Among the Mamprusi, he was called the Nayiri and among the Gonja, he was referred to as the Ya Na.

The Paramount Chief made laws to govern his jurisdiction. He was also responsible for the administration of justice in cases brought directly to his attention or appeals from the courts of the lower chiefs. 

Council of Elders
The Paramount Chief was assisted by a Council of Elders. The Council participated in deliberations on issues brought before it. They generally helped the Paramount Chief in administering the Paramountcy. 

Tendana (Owners of the land)
The Tendana is another level of political authority among the Mole-Dagbani. This position was only political, in as much as he was the one responsible for enskinning the Paramount Chief. His other responsibility was religious in nature. He was responsible for the performance of state religious rituals and also gave spiritual direction to the state leaders.

The Paramountcy was further divided into sub-divisions that could be called Provinces. Each of these sub-divisions or provinces was headed by a Sub-Chief. These sub-Chiefs were the direct descendants of the original founders of the state. 

The major duty a Sub-Chief was to administer the province under his jurisdiction. He availed himself for consultation on matters of importance. 

He also performed judicial functions. Disputes were brought before him for redress. However, a complainant could appeal to a higher court, the court of the Paramount Chief or “Nayiri” if he or she felt his or her case had not been properly handled.

Village Herdsman
At the bottom of the political structure was the Village Herdsman. The Sub-divisions or provinces were made up of several villages. Each of these villages was headed by a Village Herdsman. Politically, they were in charge of these villages. They ensured peace and harmony. They maintained law and order. They settled disputes between individuals and families but a complainant or respondent who was dissatisfied with the outcome of a case handled by the Village Herdsman could appeal t the court of the Paramount chief

1. Outline the pre-colonial political organization of the Mole-Dagbani ethnic group in the northern territories of Ghana.

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