Role of Women in Yani Affairs

BY: Zakaria Alhassan & Samuel Duodu
Women play several traditional roles during the enskinment of a Yaa Naa
Women play several traditional roles during the enskinment of a Yaa Naa

Women play very revered roles in the enskinment process of a Yaa Naa. Currently, the Head of the Dagbon Queen Mothers is Gundo Naa who is assisted by Kpatuya. Only daughters of former Yaa Naas ascend to the position.

After a selection of a substantive Yaa Naa, the queen mothers are consulted before a public announcement is made.

Until now, the Traditional Regalia of the Yaa Naa was in their custody and only handed over to the new-coming King after his selection. They, however, stopped playing that role after a blunder that led to the enskinment of a supposed unqualified person to the Yani Skin.

Yaa Naa’s wives

Custom and Tradition also demand that wives of a late Yaa Naa go through the Gambie (Wall climbing) at a section of the palace to prove their faithfulness to their late husband.

And so the 24 wives of the late Yaa Naa Yakubu Andani had to pass through the test to determine if they were faithful to their husband before and after his death for the past 17-years.

At the end of the test, it was all joy amidst drumming, dancing and appellations as all the 24 women who were camped in a room had successfully gone through the exercise and therefore could now remarry.

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“It is a matter of pride and honour to be able to successfully pass this customary test. My children, indeed my family are all excited,” an elated former wife stated.

Even though the Yaa Naa had more than 24 wives, some of them had either died or remarried.

Wearing of special hats

With the demise of a Yaa Naa, all chiefs in Dagbon are prohibited from wearing their usual hats. Until the performance of the Yaa Naa’s funeral, they tie towels around their heads. This explains why for the past 17-years after the murder of Yaa Naa Andani in 2002, Dagbon chiefs were always spotted in beautifully folded towels of different colours tangled around their heads.

In the case of the Kampakuya Naa who did not grace the investiture of the new Yaa Naa, his handlers explained that, after the successful performance of his father’s funeral, he needed to pay homage to the Overlord at the Gbewaa Palace where the Yaa Naa would officially remove the Bugu from his head and possibly enskin him.

According to the source, “It is uncustomary for the Kampakuya Naa to be in a gathering of the Yaa Naa with the Bugu still on his head.”