THE STORY OF NANKANA
KNOW THE ORIGINS OF TOWNS
NAVRONGO is the District Capital of Kassena – Nankana tribes in the Upper-East Region. The two tribes so overlap so much that it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to tell, as one goes further north, where on tribe ends and the other begins.
The Nankana people are known as Gurense (Anglicised Grushi), meaning “unbeliever”. They maintain that the name Nankana given them by the Kassena was derived from the language they speak known as Nankane.
However, from all indications, they were popularly known as the fra-fra from the supposed sound of the word which they use as a salutation or in thanks, i.e. fura-fura.
The heterogeneous population of the Nankana is divided into twenty-six totemic clans-each of which is patrilineal and exogamous (custom compelling man to marry outside his own clan).
As common designation as Nankana was therefore, unknown. The citizens simply describe themselves as members of the clan to which they belong.
For example, the clans Ene, the Ko the BU and the Pesego claim migrant origin from Isala; and that the Yowa-Zifu came from the bank of Yowa River near Paga. Also, the Gwegene comprising Kologo,Orogo, Bisigo emigrated from the Mossi country and the Winkono people of the Wa-ba-la-noa clan came from Mamprussi.
The history of the origin of the Nankana people would entail the study of the migration and vicissitudes of each of the twenty-six or more clans which now constitute the tribal division. It would clearly be impossible to do so. One example would therefore, suffice.
History of the Winkono – the head settlement of the we-ba clan. Traditions relate that before the Dagombas came, Anyenyo was the Earth Priest of all the We-ba-la-noe whose taboo are the leopard and the fowl.
The clan is divided into three main yi-zuta, i.e. chief or head compounds; each tracing its descent from one of three half-brothers by the same father, but different mothers. This common father was called Abonposogo whose father was Agunaua who was said to have come from Mamprussi.
Legend tells us that Abonposogo became blind; when a leopard scratched his eyes which was then opened. He then took an oath that neither he nor any of his children could ever eat or kill a leopard again.
After regaining his sight he married and begat Atonaba. When still an infant, she was saved from being burnt to death by a hen which gave the alarm when the hut in which the infant was asleep caught fire. Abonposogo then took a second oath that no first born of his shall ever eat a fowl.
The legend further states that, Antonaba begat Avila who brought fourth Anude. The clan became known as “we-ba-la-noe kyiseba” meaning “those who taboo leopard and fowl”.
Such is briefly, the history of the origin of a single clan among the Nankana tribe. The rest possess residual traditions of origin of their own, separate from those of ruling class.
The spectator - Saturday, September 28, 2013. Page 31
Ref: R.S Rattray – The Tribes of the Ashanti Hinterland, Vol.I Oxford, 1932 234