The Story Behind the Frafra-Dagaaba Friendship[Article]

Dr Cynthia Bogee presenting the puppy to the captain of the Frafra team

There are many legends and narrations as regards the Dagaaba and Gurune/Frafra joking relationship. However, I would like to share this one with you.

According to a legend by Anthony Atarebore, a long time ago, Dagomba, Gurune and Dagao were brothers, or rather cousins. Upon arriving in Ghana, they decided to settle in Damango, south of Tamale, exercising trade in hides and skin. They agreed to travel in turns to Burkina Faso to buy goods to sell in Ghana. Dagomba was the first to go.

He bought goods and came back. Next, Dagao went, but he did not return. He got married and settled in Burkina Faso. He became both the Chief (Naa) and the Landlord (Tendaana /Tengan Soba) there. After a long time waiting in vain for the return of Dagao, Dagomba decided to send Gurune to look for him. In Burkina Faso, Gurune found the brother happily married and doing very well. He was the owner of vast farmlands and numerous animals.

He was so much well established that he could afford to marry fifty or more wives. Having many wives was a symbol of status in society. It turned out that the visitor like the host was not to return. Dagao stopped him from going back. Consequently, Gurune settled with his brother and the two worked in Burkina Faso.

They were both prosperous and hard working. Gurune got married and the two continued to live in harmony. Dagao decided to share his authority with Gurune. He gave Gurune the title of Chief, but retained the title of the landowner. According to tradition, the office of the landowner is more important than that of the Chief.

A time came when they wanted to perform a thanksgiving sacrifice to God. Dagao who was the Tendaana consulted with the ancestors as to the best sacrifice. A dog was chosen.

The sacrifice was to be held at dawn on a chosen day. As it was difficult to kill a dog at dawn, they decided to kill it the previous evening. Only the head and entrails of the dog were needed, so they took and hid these parts.

But when everybody was sleeping, the oldest son of Gurune stole the sacrificial meat. He was eating it when the oldest son of Dagao found him. Together, they ate the meat, but decided to hang the skull on the family shrine. In the morning, when the elders gathered for the sacrifice, Dagao went to fetch the meat, but the head had disappeared. The whole house was searched and the compound swept but to no avail.

They found only dry bones hanging over the shrine. The poor elders were drowned in fear and wondered what to do next. Then, the youngest son of Gurune came forth as an eyewitness.
He had seen his elder brother and cousin eating the meat. But Dagao could not accept that his son was a thief and put the blame on Gurune’s son. This annoyed Gurune so much that he decided to move out of the house and go his way together with his family.

Upon leaving, he threatened to go east and prevent the sun from rising. Fearing what his brother could do, Dagao decided to move his family west so that he could prevent the sun from setting. And this is why the Gurune is found in the east, the Dagomba in the south and the Dagao west of Northern Ghana.

An excerpt from Naribong Gabriel.

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