History Chieftaincy system Religion Drumming Dance Spirituality

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Tamale Cultural Tours provides guided tours to many destinations. All of our guides are trained and experienced local people with knowledge of traditionel and modern life in Ghana. We introduce you to the interesting history of the Dagomba people from their arrival to Ghana back in the fifteenth century until today by visiting historical sites. By visits to chiefs and chief palaces you get an unique introduction to the chieftaincy system in Nothern Ghana as well. Tamale Cultural Tours further more give you an opportunity to experience religious ceremonies, festivals, celebrations as well as individual spiritual practices.

And last, but maybe the most important, Tamale Cultural Tours can introduce you to our famous drumming and dance traditions by giving unforgettable lessons and a spectacular performance.​

At the following web pages we present tour packages to Yendi, Mole National Park, Bolgatanga, around Tamale and a cultural afternoon at Youth Home.

Tamale Cultural Tours started in September 2017. Tamale Cultural Tours is registrered under Ghana Tourism Authority as a limited shareholder company.

Below you find facts about the Dagombas, our history, the chieftaincy system, religion, spirituality, festivals and celebrations

The Dagombas

The Dagombas iare the second largest etchnic group in Ghana, the largest in the Nothern Region.Today the Dagombas counts about 1 mill.citizents, their language is Dagbani.

The Dagomba culture is heavily influenced by Islam brought to the region by traders between the 12th and the 15th centuries. Dagomba has a sophisticated oral tradition woven around drums and other musical instruments. Most of their history, until recently, has been passed down via oral tradition with drummers as professional griots (history tellers).

The King of Dagbon, the Ya – Na, literally translated as “King of Absolute Power”, has his seat in Yendi. Yendi is situated 136 km to the east of Tamale cloze to the border of Togo. Skins are material symbols of traditional political office in the northern and upper regions just ad stools are in central and southern Ghana.


Tamale is located 600 km north of Accra in the Kingdom of Dagbon, on the crossing of three ancient trade routes .

Tamale, officially called Tamale Metropolitan Area, is the capital city of The Nothern Region of Ghana with an estimated population of 360.700 people.

During the last few years Tamale has developed and transformed significantly and is now the fastest growing city in West Africa.


Years and events of importance in the Dagomba history

During the 15th and the 16th centuries the Dagomba came from the north, moving from Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso before settling in Ghana. Oral histories of the kingdom tell that it was founded by a warrior named Tuhazie, who arrived with his cavalry men. From the beginning the Dagombas dominated the existing tribes in the area. Trade, particulary in gold as well as expanding populations and empires elsewhere were major reasons for this influx of people.

In about 1700, the capital was relocated from Yendi Dabari near Tamale to a new city, also known as Yendi, in the east because of incessant wars with the Gonja people.

1713. Naa Zangina defeated the Gonja people and killed their leader at Sari near Yendi. Naa Zangina is reputed to be the first Muslim ruler of Dagbon.

1744-45. After the Dagomba people was defeated in a battlevwith the Ashanti, Naa Gariba was captured. He was later released; in return the Dagombas had to send 500 slaves, 200 cows, 400 sheep and some cotton clothes to Kumasi every year. This lasted until 1871.

During the 17th and the 18th century the Transatlantic slavetrade expanded and the need for slaves increased. The Dagombas helped the Ashantis, who were big slave traders, to get slaves to the white people living at the fortresses along the coast in the south. The long term effect of the slave trade of Nothern Ghana was retardition of the development in the area.

1867. The British Gold Coast colony was formed by the government in London. Britain steadily expanded its colony – not without problems.

1884. European leaders gathered in Berlin, Germany to disguss and decide which part of Africa in the future was going to belong to whom. According to the treaty signed in Berlin the Eastern part of todays Ghana was going to belong to Germany as a part of Togoland, the Western part to Britain as a part of The Gold Coast. The Kingdom of Dagbon hereby was divided.

In the Nothern territories of the Gold Coast the greatest resistance to European rule came from the Dagomba.

1896. After years of rejected requests from the Ya- Naa in Yendi the Germans burned down Bimbila in November. One month later 4000- 5000 Dagomba worriors got defeated by German soldiers equipped with modern weapons after a rejected ultimatum in the battle of Adibo. Today the graves of both Dagomba worriors and German combats from this battle are there for visitors.

1899. The Germans occupied Yendi permanently.

1902. The Nothern Territories were proclamed British Protectorate. Now the three territories of the Gold Coast became a single political unit or crown colony. The British imposed inderect rule. They administrated through local strong chiefs. In the north the Dagomba were put in dominans over the other tribes. The British regulary had meetings with the king and chiefs in Tamale for talks and negotiation in case of troubles. This happened until the day of independence in March 1957. Unfortunately the British largely neglected development of the Northern Territories during all the years up to independence in 1957.

1914. The Germans lost the western part of The Volta Region to the British. Now the kingdom of Dagbon got united again and the Ya-Naa of Yendi became the overlord of all Dagombas.

1956. The people of the Volta Region, in those days called British Mandated Togoland, voted in a pubiscite and chose to become part of modern Ghana.

Most of the history of the Dagomba people, until quite recently, has been passed down via oral tradition with drummers as professional griots. Some of the early history however, is written in “ Tarikh-es Soudan”, a work of an inhabitant of Timbukto, who lived in the seventeenth century and by an earlier manuscript “Tarikh-el Tettach. Both manuscripts serve to record that at least 250 years ago the oral traditions of the Dagombas those days are the same as they are today.​

Chieftaincy system

Ghana has a dual authority system, one modern and state centered, and the other traditional chieftaincy system. The constitution of Ghana recognized and protects the power of the chiefs in local matters like conflicts between people like marriages, land disputes etc. The chiefs are responsible for maintaining Ghana’s cultural heritage and identity in the face of progress as well. The chiefs are hierarchical organized with the paramount chiefs on the highest position and the village sub chiefs and other lower ranks chiefs in lower positions. More than 5000 chiefs are working in the system.


Religion and spirituality

In Ghana 70% of the population are Christians and 18% Muslims and the rest other religions. Along with those are 5% practicing their traditional religion. In the religious practice of all modern religions in Ghana you will find traditional rituals as an integrated part. In Northern Ghana most people are Muslims. The connection to the traditional spirituality however is still strong and in practice in music and dance, in festivals, in funerals etc. The ancestors are believed to be the most immediate link with the spiritual world, and they are thought to be constantly near, observing every thought and action of the living. People’s individualized spirituality is often in practice in personal rituals for purification and healing and includes sacrifices like prayers, food for poor people, eating or not eating certain foods or doing things.

Important festivals in the Dagomba culture

The Damba Festival. Damba is celebrated to mark the birth and naming of Muhammed, but the actual content of the celebration is a glorification of the chieftaincy, not specific Islamic motifs. The festival takes place on the 11th, 17th and the 18th of the Damba month in the third month of the Dagomba calendar. Damba is the most important and widely celebrated festival of the Dagombas. You can find more information on the website 

The Bugum Fire Festival. The Bugum Fire Festival is the first festival in the year; it is celebrated in the first month of the Dagomba lunar year. Read more on

TheEid al- Filr. The Eid al-Filr is one of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar which marks the end of the Ramadan. The date of the celebration varies every year, this is because Islam followes the lunar calendar. After the Morning Prayer people spend time wishing one another “Eid Mubarak” or “Blessed Eid” and also exchange food and gifts with their neighbours. Children receive new clothes and gifts.

The Smock

The Smock is the traditional dress for men in the Dagomba culture. When the Dagomba people arrived to what today is Nothern Ghana, they were dressed in animal skins. Trade networks later introduced clothing into the markets at Gamaadze and Yendi. Later a smock production was started. The fabric of the smock, made with cotton is processed into threads by women. The threads are then streched, dyed in different colours, dried on a lin for a period of time and woven into strips on hand looms by men. The strips are four inches wide and sewn together by hand or mashine, later the material is made into smocks.

Traditionally the smock is seen as a war dress. At the earlier stage of appereance the dress was used for political and military rather than economic purpuse. During the Damba Festival the dress code is the smock. The smock was earlier worn during marriage and burial ceremonies.

The Ghanian smock has a powerful symbolic meaning recogniced internationally, especially among Ghanians in the Diaspora. The smock gained prominence when the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah and other leading members of his party wore it when they were declaring the country`s independence on March 6th 1957. Since then presidents have used the smock extensively making it to be aknowledged as national attire.​

Tamale Youth Home​ Cultural Group

​State Street, former Regional Administration Road Tamale,

Northern Region - Ghana

​P.O. Box 601, Tamale, Ghana, West Africa

​Abdul-Rahaman Mohammed, Group-leader: Tel. +233 244708222 /+233 203636908

​Ibrahim Zakaria, Assistant leader: Tel.  +233 242315820

All photos can be copied with reference to this homepage