The perspective and the portrayal of northern Ghana as a 'cluster of zongos’ is pigeonhole and a feebleminded way of describing the region. Situated at the upper part of Ghana are the northern regions. It consists of five diverse regions comprising several tribes with distinct social contracts. The regions cover a geographical area of approximately 146,219 square kilometers, representing 48.7% of the total land area of Ghana.
A brief overview of the Northern Regions.
Upper East Region is located at the topmost right, predominantly inhabited by the fra fra, kusaal, Buli, Mossi, etc. The region is well-known internationally for its popular Paga Crocodile Pond. It has several magical and amazing sites such as the Gbewaa Shrine, Tongo and Bongo rocks. The region was very vibrant during the slave trade era as it served as the first point of entry into modern day Ghana for most African captured slaves. The Pikworo Slave Camp was developed as a slave transit centre where slaves were auctioned and later resold in the Salaga Slave market. The cultural and traditional products of the people from the region is widely used and well-cherished by most Africans here and abroad. One cannot visit any popular market in the region without buying hand crafted artefacts such as baskets, pots, beads, animal sculptures etc.
Upper West Region is located opposite Upper East region and has a border with Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. It is predominantly inhabited by the Dagaba, Sisaala, Wala, etc. The region is a culmination of prevalent agrarian societies, crops grown include corn, millet, peanuts, okra, shea tree, and rice. A very interesting and well preserved site in the region is ‘The Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary located in Wa. The indigenous lifestyle of the people has not been influenced much as compared to other regions and it is the place to have an original feel of pito – a fresh, mildly alcoholic beverage derived from millet. The pito is sold by the brewers in open air bars and drunk from calabashes.
Savannah Region is bordered on the north by the Upper West region, on the south by the Bono and Bono East regions, and on the west by the North East and Northern regions. It boasts of large landscape in Ghana, rich culture and great tourist sites. It is predominated by the Gonjas. The region has placed Ghana on the international map for its famous and most visited Mole National Park and Larabanga Historic Mosque. The region is notable for its very amazing and unique culture in northern Ghana.
North East region is bordered on the north by the Upper East region and on the south by the Northern region. The whole region represents the kingdom of Mamprugu and beyond, with the Nayiri as the overlord. The Nayiri palace and the culture and traditions of the people attracts hundreds of visitors every year during its main Damba festivals. It is predominated by the Mamprusi, Tampulma, Dogambas, Talensis etc. It has a very wild scarp landscape that links Ghana to Togo. The region is a culmination of prevalent agrarian societies and hunters. The scarp in Gambaga provides visitors the opportunity to tour the ancient rock art at Gingana, Kpatiritinga, Jilik, and Tusugu.
Northern Region with Tamale as the capital, is the most popular region, it is dominated by the Dagombas, Mamprusi, Konkombas etc. Northern region is known for its fast development pace and vibrant music and movie industry. The region is well-known for its accommodating cultures and traditions, the blend of traditional folklores with modern inventions to present a very diverse cultural heritage. The region is mostly mistakenly used in place of northern Ghana due to its name. Northern region presents its inhabitants with a mix of indigenous cultures and contemporary lifestyle in a holistic package filled with festivals, sacred sites and modern infrastructure.
Therefore, Northern Ghana is very diverse and encompasses different people with different cultures. It is an interesting adventure to tour around the regions and experience the unusual lifestyles of the people. The esteem flat lands of the Northern and Savannah regions, the wild and cliff scenes of the North East region, the dry and sunny view of the Upper regions will enlightened and educate you on the indigenous lifestyle of the people.
With this brief description of northern Ghana, readers should by now know that it is a pigeonhole mentality to compare such a huge and diverse landscape to a community or a slum in the southern part of the country. Even though some of these communities are Muslim or northern majority, it still does not warrant just hasty and unfair prejudice.
To be continued....