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The factors that influenced the rise and growth of the northern states of Ghana

Ghana, West Africa, Africa, Village

The Gonjas, the Mamprusi, and the Dagombas are a few of the many states that ever existed in the northern zone of Ghana. Today, these states can be located in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana. Several factors account for the rise of these states.

Indigenous industries
One of the factors that have been identified to have accounted for the rise of the northern states is their local industries. The northern zones of Ghana were and are still noted for their arts and crafts, such as weaving and leather works. They wove items like mats, baskets and created various leather items. These items were traded in across the western sides of Sudan. There, notable markets like the Salaga market were established. Their engagement in these indigenous industry activities brought in much wealth into their states and accounted for their rise and flourish.

Political organization
Another factor that accounted for the rise of the northern states was their political organization. At the helm of the structure was the Paramount Chief. He was called the Nayiri among the Mamprusi and Ya Na among the Dagombas. The Paramount Chief was assisted by the Council of Elders who met every now and then to discuss important issues. There were sub-chiefs below the Paramount Chief. They administered the provinces of the state. They were also responsible for the administration of justice. This strong political organization contributed to making the northern states.

Ghana, Africa, West Africa, Village
Also, agriculture is identified as important to the rise of the rise and sustenance of the northern states. The Savannah was used in the production of grains such as millet, rice, and yam. These crops were used both domestically and the rest sold into other markets far and beyond. They were also involved in keeping domesticated animals like bulls and cows, sheep and goats. The meat from these animals provided protein for the people and the hide was used in the production of leather goods. These agricultural activities brought in wealth into the states and helped prop it up.

Trade was very important in the rise and growth of the northern states of Ghana. The northern territories had trade routes which linked the southern states with the north Sudanese territories. These trade routes were used to transport goods like gold, kola, ivory, and salt from the southern states through the northern states to their destinations far into Sudan. These trading activities led to the establishment of important market centres in Bole and Wa. The notable merchants of the time were the Mandes and the Wangaras.

Islamic Religion
Islamic religion and the adoption of some of its political, the administrative and judicial organization also helped in the rise of these northern states and contributed to their prolonged existence. The Mande and the Wangara merchants are believed to have introduced Islam to the northern state areas. They used to frequent the trade routes so along the way they converted willing locals to their religion. After the conversion of the political leaders, some of the names of the leadership positions began to change. The magistrate was named Qadi and the spiritual heads were now called Imams. Islamic scholars also emerged, having been well schooled in the content of the Quran. Festivals were also Islamized and the celebration of the festivals brought a lot of human traffic to the north. All these contributed and sustained the states in the north of Ghana.

1. Explain the factors that influenced the rise of the northern states in Ghana.
2. Account for the rise of large centralized states in the northern territories of Ghana.

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