Dagbon was founded by a warrior called Tohazie (Red Hunter) who hailed from Zamfara in Northern Nigeria from the 1400s to 1600s
Tohazie led the people to kill the wild beast, making the river accessible. He also organised the people and successfully waged war on rival villagers.
For his bravery and assistance to the people, Tohazie was rewarded with a Malian princess, Pagawubga, for a wife and fathered a son, Kpogon-umbo.
After serving briefly in Mali, Kpogon-umbo and his followers came into conflict with the rising
The old Gbewaa Palace in Yendi
Three brothers, three kingdoms
In Pusiga, the chieftaincy of the Kingdom of Greater Dagbon became known as ‘Nam’, which was the preserve of the male children of Naa Gbewaah.
His son, Zirili, succeeded him, but succession disputes among three of Zirili's younger brothers -
The three moved southwards from Pusiga with their followers.
Sons of the late
This is the reason why the people of Mamprugu, Nanung and Dagbon consider one another as brothers because they share the same ancestry in Naa Gbewaah.
A daughter of Naa Gbewaah, Yentuagri, married a Grumah and together, they established the Moshi Kingdom.
Sitobu subsequently settled briefly at Gambaga before moving south to Namburugu, near Karaga, where he founded the modern Dagbon state.
18th century and Second Kingdom (1700–1888)
In about 1700, the capital was relocated from Yani Dabari to a new city also known as Yani (Yendi) in the east because of incessant wars with neighbours.
The Kampakuya Naa Andani Yakubu Abdulai, the Regent of Dagbon arriving at the funeral ground
Naa Nyagsi was later succeeded by many chiefs, including Naa Zangina who in 1713, defeated his neighbours at Sang near Yendi.
Not only is Naa Zangina reputed to be the first Muslim ruler of Dagbon, but is also credited with encouraging trade with neighbours.
With the relocation of the capital to Yani and the return of peace, a Muslim community emerged at the Yaa Naa’s palace at Yendi. A group of Mande origin, led by Sabali-Yarla, and some Hausa Muslims, led by Kamshe Naa, propagated Islam in the kingdom by becoming the Yaa Naa’s Mallams who led him in prayers. Titles were given to the various Muslim clerics at the palace such as the
The extension of trade with the Dyula, and later with the Hausa, linked the Dagbon state with neighbouring kingdoms such as the Fezzan of Egypt and the Bight of Benin. And by 1788, Yendi had established one of the biggest markets in West Africa.
Because of its closeness in culture with other Sahelian neighbours such as the Mossi Kingdom, the Mali and Songhai Empires and the Hausa Bakwai in Nigeria, Dagbon became a major trading partner in salt, kola nuts and slaves.
In 1888, Dagbon became part of a neutral zone stretching from Yeji to Yendi, that was established to forestall conflict between the Germans and the British. The area was later partitioned between the two powers, and Yendi came under German control, thus separating the Yaa Naa from his people in the west.
In 1896, the Germans clashed with the Dagombas at the Battle of Adigbo and the latter, who could not withstand the sophisticated weapons of the Germans, were defeated.
In 1899, the British and the Germans split Dagbon between German Togoland and the Gold Coast.
Following World War I, eastern Dagbon became part of the British-administered mandated territories established by the League of Nations and reunited with the west, allowing the Yaa Naa to resume control of his people.
Thousands of people with various implements took part in the funeral for the late
The British implemented
The Kingdom of Dagbon enjoyed a distinct constitutional position before it became part of the Ashanti Kingdom and British Togoland.
Today, the Gbewaa Palace remains at Yendi. The kingdom is divided into territorial chiefdoms, categorised into divisional and village chieftaincies. There are three major ‘Nam’ Gates reserved for the sons of former Yaa Naas. They are Karaga, Savelugu and Mion, which occupancy qualifies one to contest for the
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (middle) and Nayiri Naa Bohogu Abdulai
Succession to the
Lesser chieftaincies are reserved for grandsons.
However, over the past century, Dagbon has gone through protracted succession disputes and conflicts.