The chiefs and people of the Kpikpira Traditional Area in the Tempane District in the Upper East Region have celebrated their 2019 “Danjuar” Festival, which is a commemoration of the historical event that made the Bimoba ethnic group triumph over their enemies.
“Danjuar” was said to have come about after Turinwe, a group that emerged from the Bimoba ethnic group as a result of persistent attacks on the group around the 17th century, settled on a mountain at Lodugu in present-day Republic of Togo and conquered their enemies in the war.
Genesis of festival
It is said that the Turinwe group referred to the mountain as 'Dan-Juar', a Bimoba word which means “dependable mountain”, after they were able defeat their enemies from the mountain.
According to the story, following the significant contribution of the mountain to the victory of the group, Turinwe (their great grandfather) walked to the mid-point of the mountain with a clay-mortar bowl on his head and sunk into the ground, leaving the bowl to cover the tiny hole left behind.
The descendants of Turinwe - the Pukpera, Nabigib and Nanik clans - then decided to offer a yearly sacrifice at the point where Turinwe was believed to have sunk.
The Bimoba ethnic group is said to have migrated from the Songhai Empire in the 17th century and settled somewhere around Fada in modern-day Burkina Faso.
Persistent attacks by Mamprusis and Dagombas using Chokosi mercenaries from Cote d’Ivoire with superior weapons forced them to move away from Fada.
The war created division among the Bimoba people as some inner groups accused others of providing the Chokosi Warriors with information which they claimed led to their defeat.
This led to the formation of groupings which were closely related as in affinity.
The confusion, it is further said, led to the movement of the groups to different destinations, some of which moved to the hilltop at Nakpanduri, Binbago, Kpenduug, Nyanu, Bunkpurugu, Gbankoun among other areas.
One of the groups that emerged was the Turinwe group which settled on a mountain at Lodugu in present-day Republic of Togo.
The mountain on which the group settled was so significant in the war against their enemies as it had a swarm of bees which Turinwe commanded to attack their enemies each time they advanced closer.
The mountain was strategically used to shoot arrows against the enemy; it also had a leap of African leopards which protected the mountain as dogs do to homes.
It also houses several caves, some of which were used as cells for captured enemies, recovery wards for the treatment of victims of war injuries and a fortified cave as the King’s residence, among others.
Significance of festival
As a result of the contribution of the mountain towards the victory of the group, the people of the Bimoba ethnic group decided to offer yearly sacrifices to the mountain, which had been named Danjuar, to thank the gods for the triumph over their enemies and for continuous protection.
The sacrifice, which is celebrated 15 days of the new moon after the harvest of farm produce was also used to thank the gods for the harvest and to cleanse bad omens such as poverty, hunger, diseases and war.
Peace and development
The Paramount Chief of the Kpikpira Traditional Area, Naba Danzuuri II, told the Daily Graphic that in a bid to promote unity, peace and development, some prominent Bimobas, including the chief of Nakpanduri, instituted the Danjuar Festival as a symbolic festival for the people of Muog (Bimoba ethnic group) irrespective of clan.
He spoke of plans to use the festival to enhance development, explaining that “we intend opening up our mountains to tourism.
When we institute paragliding in the Nakpanduri scarp, our youth will get employed and earn income.
When the government dredges the Yenyaug and Aadug rivers, the basin of Sambiruk mountains, our farmers will farm all-year round and when we open up the rock shaped like the Africa Map in Bukpurugu, we will generate revenue through tourism,” Naba Danzuui II added.
This year’s edition of the Danjuar Festival, which was on the theme: “Using traditional festival as a means to environmental protection and sustainability”, brought together the chiefs and people of Kpikpira, Nakpanduri, Bunkpurugu, and Gbankoni to showcase the rich traditional culture and to re-unite them to promote peace and unity.
Various speakers called for peace and unity among Bimobas and also reiterated the need to protect the environment to mitigate climate change.