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THE STORY OF MAGAZI AKUSHI: THE ORIGIN OF THE GAMBAGA, MAMPRUSI MUSLIMS

Magazi Akushi was the first prominent Muslim in Gambaga. He was a weaver. The pits where he dyed thread are in front of Magaziyiri. His name, Akushi, comes from the name of the carved wooden bowl in which he used to give food to the caravans which came from Hausa-land on their way to Salaga.

Magazi taxed the caravan for Nayiri. The caravan leaders all had to go and greet Magazi; owner of the Akushi whenever they reach Gambaga. They gave him cattle or cloth, or money. This road was the only one to Salaga in that time so many people came.

It got to a time, the Nayiri decided to put his own son as Magazi. This was because his son Bangimboa followed after Magazi’s child. He learned to read and he wanted to become a Muslim. They went together to greet Naba Tampuri who was the king at the time. That was when kings lived in Gambaga. Magazi said: "your son is following my children and he learned to read".Naba Tampuri said: “if he wants to scribble like a mallam that is his affair.” So Magazi Akushi got a turban and a gown and some money (six pounds 10 pence) and a sheep, a cock, and a cow. They shed blood (they sacrificed) and then they named him Ibrahim. When Naba Tampuri died they said he should be Bayiri but he said that a mallam could not consult diviners. He said: “I do not want to be polluted.” So they gave the naam (kingship) to Atabia. Naba Atabia left Gambaga for Nalerigu but Ibrahim remained behind.

His house is now Magaziyiri and from that day the princes call Magazi’s house people “Bapura” (junior father). But since they did not want the naam (kingship) none of the children of that house can ever take it. But his house has power. If the Nayiri wants to give any naam (chiefship) he must consult Magaziyiri. They call Ibrahim (head of Magaziyiri at the time) “Yiidaana” (landlord) because they do not want to mention his name. It is a matter of respect. But you can tell that they descended from princes because their praise name is “zuu-yiiridima”.

 

Personal commentary and notes:

The Original Magazi, who was tasked to collect taxes from the caravans on behalf of the Mamprugu Kingdom was not a royal or a Mamprusi. It was at a point when Bangimboa converted to become a Muslim that he became the first Mamprugu Magazi

Dyeing and weaving was practiced by most of the people in Gambaga at some time ago. This is an indicative of the popular occupation by the Mamprusi’s generations ago.

The Nayiri was powerful and as the overlord of his Kingdom, he collected tax from migrants and traders who used the Gambaga route.

Gambaga, was the most important caravan stop in the Mamprusi region on the route to Salaga.

The Mamprusi polity contains a large number of offices (naam) of different types, which are allocated by Manprusi courts to different sectors of the population. It is typical, in the origin traditions, not only of Muslims, but of other clans and lineages holding non-royal office, that is mostly founded by a prince who has sacrificed his opportunity to succeed to royal office in favor of some other place at court.

The sons of kings are sent out of their father’s house on reaching puberty and live in the houses of trusted members of the court.

This story also points out the history of Islam involvement in the Mamprusi kingdom.

Those days Mamprusi Muslims were distinguished from non-Muslim Mamprusi in dress and to some extent by name. Thus the turban and the gown are specifically the dress of the Nayiri’s Liman and adult Muslim men wear a different type of hat and gown from those worn by traditionalist or Christian Mamprusi.

The Arabic names are given, now with great frequency to Mamprusis, is an indication of the dominance of Islam in the region and the acceptance of Islam as part of the traditional practices.

The move of the Mamprusi capital from Gambaga to Nalerigu is often said by Mamprusi to be associated with the succession of Naba Atabia.

 

REFERENCES

Drucker-Brown, S 1975 Ritual Aspects of Mamprusi Kingship. Cambridge African Studies Centre.

Drucker-Brown, S. (1986). The Story of Magazi Akushi: (The origin of the Gambaga, Mamprusi Muslims, Northern Region, Ghana). Cambridge Anthropology, 11(1), 79-83. Retrieved October 3, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23817247

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