The Mole-Dagomba are a meta-ethnicity and western Oti-Volta Gur ethno-linguistic group residing in six present-day West Africa countries namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali and Togo.
The Mole-Dagbani tribe makes up around 16 percent of the current population in Ghana. The tribe accounts for the majority of the Muslim population in the country. It has five sub-cultures, Mossi, Nanumba, Mamprusi, Dagomba and Gonja.
Dagbani migrate from north-east of Lake Chad to the south of the Niger bend, Zamfara modern-day Nigeria. It is believed that the tribe originated from these regions around the 13th century.
The Mole-Dagbani has distinctive traditional and cultural practices that set them apart from other tribes. They are very withdrawn because of their Islamic beliefs. Their culture is also highly dependent on oral tradition. Here are the aspects that make up their culture and traditions.
Ya-Na is the king of the Dagbon traditional kingdom. The court and administrative capital of this kingdom are at Yedi. The seat of the king of Dagbon known as King of Absolute Power is a collection of cow and lion skin. Therefore, the political system is commonly known as Yendi skin. In the kingdom, the houses are arranged in a precise order with the chief's or elderly man's hut built in the middle. Another major feature in the administration of the Mole-Dagbon tribe is chieftaincy. This system is very hierarchical with the paramount chief being the head. A tiered system of governance rules under him. The tiered structure is made of:
Many people in the tribe are farmers. Men do the work in the farms while women help during the harvesting period. Their main crops grown are millet, sorghum, yams, maize, and peanuts. The tribe also keeps sheep, cattle, guinea fowls, chicken, and goats while others take part in fishing and hunting. Their food is made of the things they rear or plant.
Mole Dagbon speaks the Gur language of Ghana, which is also known as Dagbani, Dagbanle, or Dagbanli. It is widely spoken in northern Ghana especially among the leadership of the king of Dagbon. Mole Dagbani languages are a compulsory subject in both primary and junior schools in Dagbon kingdom.
Mole Dagbani dance and music is one of the cores of its people. It is through the art of dancing and music that they get to preserve their history over generations. They consider dancing as a form of expressing their emotions. The Dagbani people also use it for social interactions and physical exercise. Through dance, people can illustrate and articulate a story or idea. The Dagbamba people have also embraced and incorporated a modern form of music and dance into their traditional one. At the local level, Dagbani music is heard in non-traditional music genres such as hip hop, reggae, Islamic music, or hip life.
Two of the most important festivals are Bugum (fire festival) and Damba.
Damba festival is celebrated by the chiefs and the people. The celebration takes place during the third month of the Islamic calendar. It is celebrated to mark the birth and the naming of the Holy prophet Muhammud. The festival is divided into three different sections:
The Dagbon people live in walled compact villages. Every household is made of related men, wives, children, and other dependents. The population of the tribe is divided into two groups, the chiefly families and the commoners.
The patrilineage is the basis of social organization among the people. Matrilineal descent is acknowledged and accredited with the contribution of the spiritual attributes of an individual. The patrilineages are partitioned into different hierarchically arranged sections which are made of:
A kinship unit is a descent group that is referred to as the dang. It is made of descendants of a single great grandfather or grandfather. Only the sons of Ya-Na are eligible to rise to office.
Mole-Dagbon tribe is one of the earliest inhabitants of Ghana. It is characterized by a fascinating culture and historical background. They pass their culture orally from generation to generation.
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