Yaa Naa Mahama III’s Gbon Lana Abduali ascended Yani under the skin name Yaa Naa Abdulai III. His ascension to the Skins of Yani upset the rotation of the nam between Andani Yili and Abudu Yili. On March 20, 1954 Yaa Naa Abdulai III exited “katin duu” and in a colourful procession amidst drumming and dancing proceeded to Zohe. Zohe is a suburb of Yendi where by custom every new Yaa Naa spends the first week of his reign. While Abudu Yili was jubilating and merry-making, Andani Yili put into motion a series of machinations and protests to the ascension of Yaa Naa Abdulai III. On March 27, 1954, Karaga Naa Adam, Yo Naa Mahamuru, and Mion Lana Andani met in Tamale to formally launch a protest with the Chief Regional Officer against the enskinment of Yaa Naa Abdulai. The protest in Tamale did not bear fruit as the complainants could not answer the question of the Chief Regional Officer as to which of them would be best suited to be enskined Yaa Naa if Yaa Naa Abdulai III was deskined. Andani Yili, not satisfied with the outcome of their protests commenced proceedings in the Dagbon State Council against Yaa Naa Abdulai III. The charges were against the Yaa Naa included his conspicuous physical deformities which by custom disqualifies a person from occupying the Skins of Yani. The said physical deformities were a defective eye and toes. Also, they claimed he was not selected by the traditional four-man selection committee (old Yaa Naa Seletion Committee): Kuga Naa, Gushie Naa, Tugri Nam, and Gomli. He was not eligible for selection because he was not an occupant of a gate skin and his selection violated the established rotation between Abudu Yili and Andani Yili.
The complainants also asserted that Yaa Naa Abdulai III was not installed by the proper functionaries established to enskin a Yaa Naa, i.e. the old Yaa Naa Selection Committee. In fact Kuga Naa and Tugri Nam were the only members of the Yaa Naa Selection Committee to cast their votes for Mion Lana Andani. They were therefore against the selection of Yaa Naa Abdulai III and refused to install him Yaa Naa. On March 19, 1954, Kuga Naa and Tugri Nam together with other Andani Yili supporters were ready to enter Katin duu with Mion Lana Andani, the same time Yaa Naa Abdulai III was in Katin duu. But for the presence of security forces in Yendi, Abudu Yili and Andani Yili were ready to do battle. The Dagbon State Council convened on September 20, 1958 to hear the case against Yaa Naa Abdulai III. The council tried the case and dismissed all charges against Yaa Naa Abdulai III, stating that Yaa Naa Abdulai III was customarily and properly enskinned with the approval of the Yaa Naa Selection Committee. After the Dagbon State Council dismissed the case of Andani Yili against Yaa Naa Abdulai III, various divisional and subdivisional chiefs of Dagbon who belonged to Andani Yili left their respective villages and camped in Sambu. The chiefs of Andani Yili led by then M.P and C.P.P. Minister of Health, J. H. Allassani, appealed the dismissal of their case at the State Council under the House of Chiefs Act (1958) to the government of the C.P.P. on May 04, 1959. The appeal resounded the charges made before the Dagbon State Council and added that the Dagbon State Council refused to hear their case.
To understand the urgency of Mion Lana Andani and Andani Yili, to get to Yani, you have to take a trip back to the ascensions of Ya Naa Abudu I and Ya Naa Andani II to establish Abudu Yili and Andani Yili.
|Yaa Naa Abdulai I
|1864 – 1876 (12 years)
|Yaa Naa Andaini II
|1876 – 1899 (22 years)
|Yaa Naa Darimani
|1899 (7 weeks abdicated)
|Yaa Naa Alaasani
|1899 -1917 (18 years)
|Yaa Naa Bukari
|Yaa Naa Abdulai II
|1920 – 1938 (18 years plus was Gbon Lana for 3 years)
|Yaa Naa Mahama II
|1938 – 1948 (10 years)
|Yaa Naa Mahama III
|1948 – 1953 (5 years)
|Yaa Naa Abdulai III
|1953 – 1967 (14 years)
From above it can be seen that from 1899 to the ascension of Ya Naa Abdulai III, a period of 54 years, Andani Yili had been on the Skins of Yani for only 10 years. During the remainder of the period, Abudu Yili ruled Dagbon and had enskinned almost every Naa of the significant chiefdoms in the kingdom. The chiefs, naturally, favoured Abudu Yili, hence the ease with which the Yaa Naa Selection Committee elected Yaa Naa Abdulai III. This fact apart, Andani Yili had two chiefs, Yo Naa Mahamuru and Mion Lana Andani, who had not yet reached Yani. Yo Naa Mahamuru was over 80 years old and was not expected to live long enough to get to Yani, whereas Mion Lana Andani was now over 50 years old. Ya Naa Abdulai III was in his twenties and there was therefore urgency in an Andani ascending the skins of Yani to keep the gate alive. This urgency included calls for the deskinning Yaa Naa Abdulai III as he was thought to be younger and would outlive the two Andani Yili chiefs on the gate skins of Savelugu and Mion.
The government of the C.P.P. at this time needed support in the Northern Territories badly as the Northern Peaples Party (N.P.P.) was winning most of the seats in the Dagbon Electoral Areas. The Yaa Naa would not also lend his support to the C.P.P. and his association with the de facto leader of the N.P.P. in Dagbon – Tolon Naa Yakubu Tali, did not help matters. The government of the C.P.P. appointed a committee of enquiry under S.D. Opoku Afari, a barrister of law. The committee of inquiry listened to the case and witnesses from both Andani Yili and Abudu Yili made and a recommendations to the Minister of Local Government of the CPP Government, A.E.A Ofori Atta, who in turn took the report to cabinet. The report found that; Yaa Naa Abdulai III was indeed physically deformed; that the rotation between Abudu Yili and Andani Yili was upset by the ascension of Yaa Naa Abdulai III; that ascention to the Skins of Yani was limited to the gate skins of Karaga, Savelugu and Mion. At the cabinet meeting, the findings of the commission of enquiry were overturned. The government submitted that Yaa Naa Abdulai III was customarily and constitutionally elected and enskinned. It is alleged that this measure was taken because of fear of suffering a set back in the Northern Territories if the government indeed deskinned the Yaa Naa. The set back that was being considered here was that prior to the S. D. Opoku Afari report most of the educated in Dagbon, notably Tolon Naa Yakubu Tali and Salifu Yakubu – MP for Savelugu, had abandoned the N.P.P. and joined the C.P.P. In fact Yaa Naa Abdulai III and most of the chiefs in Dagbon converted to the C.P.P. enbloc. The government then invited Mion Lana Andani and Yaa Naa Abdulai III to Accra. On June 17, 1960, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister of Ghana, asked the parties to bury their differences and work together for the betterment of Dagbon and Ghana as a whole. Back to Sambu, Mion Lana Andani did not give up the fight to get to Yani. He continued to lobby government to take another look at the constitutionality of Yaa Naa Abdulai III ascension to Yani. He sent a letter to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah explaining that he had understood the political arguments behind the government’s decision not to deskin Yaa Naa Abdulai III but asked Nkrumah to understand that if he died without ascending the Skins of Yani all his children and infact the Andani gate would be excluded from Yani forever.
On August 25, 1960, the government made a declaration of customary law which became known as Legislative Instrument 59 (L.I. 59). The declaration was as follows ;
The ascension to the Yendi Skin shall be in rotation among the Abudu and Andani families. Persons who are eligible to occupy the skins shall be the sons of deceased or previous Yaa Naanima occupying one of the gate skins of Karaga, Savelugu, and Mion. Sons of deceased or former Yaa Naa occupying skins other than the gate skins are not eligible for appointment to the Skins of Yani. On the death of the Yaa Naa Abdulai III the next Yaa Naa shall be Mion Lana Andani of Andani Yili. In the event of Mion Lana Andani pre-deceasing Yaa Naa Abdulai III, the next Mion Lana, who shall be from Andani Yili, should occupy the Skins of Yani. Since candidates from Abudu Yili have twice in succession occupied the Skins of Yani, candidates from Andani Yili should be given the opportunity to occupy the Skins twice in succession before the customary law of succession by rotation proceeds in the normal way. In order to facilitate the application of the rule of alternation between the two ruling families of Abudu and Andani, there shall at any one time be at lease one member from either family on one or two of the three gate skins of Karaga, Savelugu, and Mion. Where two candidates from either family become eligible for appointment to the Skins of Yani, the senior (i.e. the one who first occupied the gate skin) shall be nominated for the Skins. Since Mion Lana Andani should have ordinarily been the occupant of Yani, it should be laid down that in the event of his pre-deceasing Yaa Naa Abdulai III, his sons should be regarded as sons of a former Yaa Naa and qualified for Yani.
Legislative instrument 59 was a victory of sort for Andani Yili. It displeased Abudu Yili in that it recognized the fact that Mion Lana Andani was the legitimate successor to Yaa Naa Mahama III. When the government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (Convention Peoples Party) was ousted in a military coup d’etat on February 24, 1966, Abudu Yili saw an opportunity to have L. I. 59 revoked. Abudu Yili put their political gurus to work. They lobbied the government of the National Libration Council (NLC) for the revocation of L. I. 59. On May 25, 1967, the Dagbon State Council presented a petition for the revocation of L.I. 59 to the NLC. The petition among other things argued that L.I. 59 violated the norm of Dagbon custom that no successor to any Naa should be known or determined during the reign of the incumbent, that there was no customary rotation between the two gates in Dagbon custom and constitution and that the Gbon Lana of a Yaa Naa has an equal right to ascend the skins of Yani as the occupants of the three gate skins.
Ya Naa Abdulai III died on September 14, 1967 before any action on Dagbon State Council’s petition. Ya Naa Abdulai III Gbon Lana, Mahamadu, then 19 years of age and a student of the Government Secondary School in Tamale, continued the fight for revocation of L.I. 59. On October 21, 1967 Dagbon State Council met to discuss the funeral of Ya Naa Abdulai III. Gbon Lana Mahamadu announced that he wished to postpone the final funeral rites of his father and that Karaga Naa Adam should be responsible for the funeral. Mion Lana Andani was and other members of the Dagbon State Council were against this request, stating that it is the Mion Lana who is responsible for the funeral of the Ya Naa. They also wanted a speedy performance of the final funeral rites of the Ya Naa and the enskinment of a new Ya Naa, Mion Lana Andani, in accordance with L.I. 59. Abudu Yili on the other hand was content with postponing the final funeral rites and the enskinment of the new Ya Naa to give them time to fight for the revocation of L.I. 59. Meanwhile the government of the NLC had returned the petition of Dagbon State Council for consideration in the House of Chiefs. The House of Chiefs rejected the petition requesting that Mion Lana Andani be enskinned Ya Naa. Members of the House of Chiefs, including the Nayiri of Mamprugu and Yebunwura of Gonja, argued that L.I. 59 was the only formula to solve the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis. Dagbon State Council returned to the government with the charge that L.I. 59 was the work of J. H. Allassani and Nkrumah’s C.P.P. and that the instrument seriously undermined the custom and tradition of Dagbon. Meanwhile a new breed of Dagbon politicians was entering the political scene and into the circus of the Yendi Chieftaincy dispute. Among them was B. A. Yakubu, a member of the N.L.C. and Deputy Commissioner of Police and Ibrahim Mahama a commissioner under the N.L.C. government. B.A. Yakubu hailed from Gushiegu and was the son of the Gushie Naa. His brother was appointed to the skins of Gushiegu by Ya Naa Abdulai III and his father was before him appointed by Abudu Yili. B. A. Yakubu was regarded as an Abudu Yili sympathizer. Ibrahim Mahama on the other hand had become the spokesman of Andani Yili. He had earlier in 1966 graduated from the University of Ghana and was a leading member of the Northern Youth Association. In the drama leading to the performance of the funeral of Ya Naa Abdulai III, the N.L.C. government published legislative instrument 596 (L.I. 596) revoking L.I. 59 only to reverse its decision in N.L.C. Decree 281 reinstating L.I. 59. The NLC government advised the Chieftaincy Secretariat to carryout an investigation into the enactment of L.I. 59.The chairman of the Chieftaincy Secretariate, Justice J. B. Siriboe, led a three member committee to Yendi in September 1968 to begin their investigation. After their investigation, the Siriboe Committee recommended to the government to revoke L.I. 59. On October 15, 1968, the NLC government revoked Legislative Instrument 59 (L.I. 59) in NLC Decree 296. NLC Decree 296 also requested that a new Ya Naa be elected by Dagbon Custom and Constitution. This threw Dagbon into a state of disarray. Of the occupants of Yani gate skins only Mion Lana Andani was qualified to ascend the Skins of Yani. Karaga Naa Adam and Yo Naa (Savelugu Naa) Abdulai were both Yanse (grand sons) and thus not eligible for Yani. The struggle for Yani was now between Mion Lana Andani and Gbon Lana Mahamadu, who was eligible with the revocation of L.I. 59. Mion Lana was supported by the traditional kingmakers of Kuga Naa, Tugri Nam, Gomli, and Kpati Naa, whereas Gbon Lana Mahamadu had the support of the modern selection committee. It was therefore no surprise that after the performance of the final funeral rites of Ya Naa Abdulai III on November 07, 1968, the two candidates were presented for enskinment. The traditional kingmakers selected Mion Lana Andani while the modern selection committee selected Gbon Lana Mahamadu. The meeting of the selection committee was not attended by Kuga Naa, Tugri Nam and Kumbun Naa who were supporters of Mion Lana Andani. The District Administration of Yendi, receiving news that both Abudu Yili and Andani Yili were preparing to enskin their selections, prevented them from entering Katin duu for the enskinment. An armed guard was posted at Katin duu. Meanwhile the following morning Radio Ghana news bulletin in Dagbanli announced that Mion Lana Andani had been enskinned Ya Naa while the Daily Graphic on its front page announced that Mion Lana Andani had been selected by the kingmakers. It was later alledged that Ibrahim Mahama, then Commissioner for Information, had used his office to get information of Mion Lana Andani’ selection broadcast. Ya Naa Andani III (1968-1969) Ya Naa Andani III Ya Naa Andani III The District Administrative Officer, J. E. Nsaful, began an examination of the facts as presented by both sides. On November 21, 1968, after examination of the facts J. E. Nsaful, summoned the chiefs and informed them that the rightful successor to Ya Naa Abdulai III was Mion Lana Andani. He asked them to proceed with preparations to enskin him Ya Naa. That evening Mion Lana Andani was enskined Ya Naa Andani III. In fact the enskinment of Ya Naa Andani III was not without protest. The Zohe Naa and Kpati Naa absented themselves from Katin Duu in protest. On November 22, 1968 Ya Naa Andani III exited Katin Duu and in a colourful parade amid drumming and dancing proceeded to Zohe where he spent the first days of his reign as Ya Naa. Once again, as was the case in 1954, while Andani Yili was merry-making Abudu Yili begun their machinations and protest against the enskinment of Ya Naa Andani III. On November 24, 1968 they presented a petition to the NLC government against the enskinment of Ya Naa Andani III. The petition declared that Ya Naa Andani III was not properly and customarily selected and enskinned Ya Naa. Both Kpati Naa and Gomli protested that they had not participated in the divination of soothsayers to select that Ya Naa. They also contended that several important rituals had not been performed on Ya Naa Andani III. The NLC government appointed a three-member committee (Mate Kole Committee) on December 14, 1968 to hear the petition. The committee was chaired by Nene Azzu Mate Kole and had Nana Obiri Yeboah and Jatoe Kaleo as members. The Mate Kole Committee commenced sitting on December 17, 1968 in Tamale. The committee was to determine1 The custom and customary procedure for the nomination and/or selection of the new Ya Naa Whether Ya Naa Andani III was properly nominated and enskined in accordance with the said Dagbon traditional custom Whether or not the said installation was unduly influenced by the presence of armed soldiers and policemen and of the district administrative office of Yendi While the Mate Kole committee was still sitting, Ya Naa Andani III died on March 14, 1969 at age 70. He had been Ya Naa for a little less than four months. The Mate Kole committee continued its investigation after the death of Ya Naa Andani III and concluded its report in August 1969. In the interim, General J.A. Ankrah resigned as chairman of N.L.C. and Ibrahim Mahama was removed as Commissioner for Information. Brigadier A.A. Afrifa, the new chairman of N.L.C., announced plans to return the country to civilian rule and lifted the ban on party politics. In Dagbon, party politics and membership to the parties were strongly chieftaincy aligned. Abudu Yili voted massively for the Progress Party (P.P.) of Dr. K.A. Busia while Andani Yili voted for the National Alliance of Liberals (N.A.L.) of K.A. Gbedemah. Ibrahim Mahama was the candidate for N.A.L. in Tamale. After the general elections N.A.L. polled about 49% of the votes and 4 of the 7 seats in Dagbon while the P.P. polled about 46% of the votes and the remaining 3 seats. Against their successes in the rest of the Northern Region and the country as a whole, this result was a defeat to the P.P. and Abudu Yili and a big victory for Andani yili. On September 03, 1969 Dr. K.A. Busia became Prime Minister of Ghana and on Septemb
er 04, 1969, bearly one day in office, the P.P. government disclosed the findings of the Mate Kole committee in a white paper stating that the enskinment of Ya Naa Andani III was against Dagbon custom and therefore null-and-void. It also accepted the findings that Gbon Lana Mahamadu was properly selected and directed that he be enskinned Ya Naa as soon as possible. The principal findings of the Mate Kole Committee of enquiry were as follows;1 that those eligible for paramountcy are the occupants of the skins of Karaga, Savelugu, or Mion if they were sons of a Ya Naa and the Gbon Lana of Yendi; these are the four persons from among whom a Ya Naa could be selected that the body traditionally authorized to select a Ya Naa is that body agreed upon by the Dagbon State Council in 1948 and accepted by the Government that the Mion Lana was not selected by the recognized body of Selection Committee, his alleged selection by soothsayers consisting of Kuga Naa, Tugri Nam, Amadu Gomle, and Mahama Kpatia is not the custom as at present recognized that the Mion Lana’s alleged installation on 21 September 1968 was not performed by the Gomli, Malle, Kpahigu, Gagbindana, the Kpati Naa and the Gulkpe Naa. He did not undergo ceremonies at Zohe Naa’s house, Mba Buga’s house, or Mbadugu’s house that the Gbolon or “Gbewa Ceremony” was not performed on him. His alleged enskinment cannot therefore be in accordance with Dagbon traditional custom and procedure The Mate Kole committee also found that District Administrative Officer of Yendi had interfered with the selection process by preventing Gbon Lana Mahamadu from entering Katin duu. That the District and Regional Authorities had exceeded their legal power by directing that Ya Naa Andani be installed Ya Naa. This ruling was of course not favourable to Andani Yili. On September 07, 1969 Andani Yili sent a letter of protest to the government stating that the act of enskinment of a Ya Naa and the accompanying rites performed on a qualified candidate are irrevocable. These rites were performed on Ya Naa Andani III and he lived out his life as a Ya Naa. The period from September 04 – 08, 1969 was grim for Yendi and Dagbon. The government after ruling in favour of Abudu Yili directed that Gbon Lana Mahamadu be enskinned Ya Naa. The government directive also indicated that Andani Yili vacate the Gbewaa Palace to enable the enskinment of Gbon Lana Mahamadu. Andani Yili at this time was protesting the deskinment of Ya Naa Andani III. A curfew was imposed on Yendi but was constantly violated by the citizenry. In the midst of the chaos that prevailed in Yendi, the District Police Officer for Yendi was transferred and Police Superintendant Imoro Alhassan appointed in his place. On September 09, 1969 the security forces in Yendi opened fire on members of Andani Yili who were still in the Gbewaa Palace. In all, about 23 men, women, and children were massacred and about 40 more wounded. Some 700 people were arrested and a large quantity of guns confiscated. The cause of the shooting in Yendi are not clear and accounts of what happened are clamoured in rumour and often mutually exclusive. Suffice to say that even the official Government reports on the events leading to the Yendi massacre are conflicting. No commission of enquiry was ever set up to investigate the shootings at Yendi. Ya Naa Mahama IV(1969-1974) Ya Naa Mahamadu Abdulai Ya Naa Mahamadu Abdulai Gbon Lana Mahamadu Abdulai was enskinned under the skin name Ya Naa Mahama IV (Mahamadu). On September 13, 1969 Ya Naa Mahamadu exited Katin duu amidst heavy military and police presence. Upon ascension to the skins of Yani Ya Naa Mahamadu appointed B.A. Yakubu to the vacant skin of Gushiegu. His brother the Gushie Naa died after the ascension of Ya Naa Andani III. Ya Naa Mahamadu also appointed his uncle, Sang Lana, to the vacant skin of Mion. On the national scene, Ya Naa Mahamadu gained some prominence. He became a member of the Council of State of Ghana in September 1969 and in May 1970 he was elected the President of the Northern Region House of Chiefs On February 13, 1972 the Progress Party Government of Dr. Busia was overthrown in a coup d’etat led by General I. K. Acheampong’s National Redemption Council. On February 26, 1972 Andani Yili sent a petition to the new military government to appoint a committee of inquiry into the Yendi Chieftaincy Dispute. This petition gave birth to the Ollenu Committee of Inquiry. The Ollenu committee of inquiry was headed by Justice Nii Amaa Ollennu with Sir Tsibu Darki IX, Nana Atakora Amaniampong II and Togbe Adja Tekpor VI as members. The Ollennu committee of inquiry, among other things, was to; Ascertain the customary law (procedure) for nomination, selection, and enskinment of the Ya Naa Inquire about the circumstances leading to the abrogation of Legislative Instrument 59 (L.I. 59) Inquire into the deskinment of Ya Naa Andani III Inquire whether the nomination, selection, and enskinment of Ya Naa Mahama IV (Mahamadu) was according to Dagbon custom and constitution On April 23, 1974 the government of the NRC published the Ollennu Committee report together with a white paper. The Ollennu committee reversed the findings of the Mate Korle Committee. Specifically, the Ollennu Committee found that the nomination, selection, and enskinment of Ya Naa Andani III was in accordance with the custom and constitution of Dagbon and therefore his deskinment was unjustified. On the nomination, selection and enskinment of Ya Naa Mahama IV (Mahamadu) the committee was of the view that he was not customarily nominated, selected and enskinned. As a result the enskinment of Ya Naa Mahama IV was declared null-and-void. The Ollennu committee also ruled that since no eligible member of Andani Yili occupied any of the gate skins of Yani, Ya Naa Andani III’s Gbon Lana Yakubu Andani be enskinned Ya Naa. Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II (1974-2002) Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II Ya Naa Yakubu Andani II On May 31, 1974, Gbon Lana Yakubu Andani (Kampakuya Naa) ascended the skins of Yani as Ya Naa Yakubu II. The ascension of Ya Naa Yakubu did not put an end to the aspirations of Abudu Yili to get back to Yani. On July 5, 1978, the government of General Acheampong was ousted in a palace coup led by Lieutenant General F. W. K. Akuffo. Almost one year later, on May 09, 1979 Abudu Yili presented a petition to the government of the Supreme Military Council II. The government granted Abudu Yili the right to appeal the findings of the Ollennu Committee of Inquiry. On June 04, 1978, however, the government of Lieutenant General F. W. K. Akuffo was toppled in a military coup led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry J. Rawlings. On September 08, 1979 Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings visited Yendi and in a durbar held in his honour and attended by both Ya Naa Yakubu II and deskinned Ya Naa Mahama IV. Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings made Ya Naa Yakubu II and deskinned Ya Naa Mahama IV shake hands, reminding then they were brothers, and asked them to burry their differences in the interest of peace and development of Dagbon. On September 24, 1979 the government of People’s National Party (PNP) led by Dr. Hilla Limann was inaugurated. In 1981, Abudu Yili won the right to appeal the findings of the Ollennu Committee and won the appeal in the Appeal Court of Ghana. The P.N.P. government of Dr. Hilla Liman was ousted in a coup d’etat on December 31, 1981 by the Provisional National Defence Council (P.N.D.C.) led by Jerry Rawlings. The court case on the Yendi Skin Dispute, however, continued in the courts. The appellate court found that; The legitimate body for selecting a Ya Naa was the selection committee formed in 1948 The selection of Ya Naa Mahama IV (Mahamadu Abdulai) by the selection committee was valid and according to the constitution and tradition of Dagbon The selection of Ya Naa Andani III was unconstitutional and thus his enskinment was null-and-void, thus Ya Naa Andani III never became Ya Naa Ya Naa Yakubu II (Yakubu Andani) could not have been selected and enskinned since his father was never a legitimate Ya Naa the findings of the Ollennu Committee of enquir
y which recommended the deskinment of Ya Naa Mahama IV (Mahamadu Abdulai) be abrogated. Andani Yili then, appealed the decision of the Appellate Court in the Supreme Court of Ghana on February 25, 1985. On December 17, 1986 the Supreme Court of Ghana ruled, by a vote of six to one, in favour of Andani Yili setting aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal. The ruling of the Supreme Court of Ghana brought the twists and turns involving the Yendi Skins to an end. On December 21, 1986, Ya Naa Yakubu II returned to Tamale amid drumming and dancing and proceeded to Yendi and was met by an equally large jubilant group of supporters. The former Ya Naa Mahamadu also returned to Tamale and had to postpone his return to Yendi because of reports of sporadic violence between Abudu Yili and Andani Yili supporters. At the end of the disturbance, six people were killed and many more wounded. Former Ya Naa Mahamadu returned to Yendi unannounced on the January 03, 1987. He lived in Yendi as the Bolin Lana until his death. Ya Naa Yakubu II ruled Dagbon until March 27, 2002, when in clashes between Abudu Yili and Andani Yili he was murdered together with over thirty people in the Gbewaa Palace in Yendi. Look out for more on Dagbon History. This page will continuously be updated to include most of the Yananima whose reign have not been included here.
Tendana: In the earlier days the area of present day Burkina Faso and most parts of the northern region of Ghana was inhabited by acephalous tribes. These indigenous people had no structured kingdom or political system. The Tendana was the “owner of the land”. He was the gateway to the ancestral or spiritual world and was responsible for offering sacrifices to the ancestors for prosperity and peace in the land.
Yanabihi: The male children of a Ya Naa. Gbon Lana: The eldest son of the Ya Naa (or any chief) who is of age.
Gbolon: Royal stool used in enskinment of Ya Naa. The Ya Naa sits on the royal stool three times in the katin duu.
Death of Ya Naa: When a sitting Ya Naa dies, all divisional, and sub-divisional chiefs are officially informed of the death by the family. All chiefs must travel to Yendi and perform some prescribed rites. These include firing of the musketry by the chiefs soldiers; visit to the Ya Naa’s grave; presentation of the burial kit to the bereaved family. The presentation of the burial kit by the Karaga Naa, Savelugu Lana, and Mion Lana – occupants of the gate skins to Yani, constitutes a preliminary application for the vacant Yani Skins. The chiefs then have the option to either go back to their respective chiefdom or stay in Yendi until the performance of the final funeral rites and the selection of a new Ya Naa. The exception to this tradition is that the Kumbun Naa and the Gushie Naa, who are not to enter Yendi until the Ya Naa selection committee have selected a successor to the Ya Naa.
Zong Titali: Main palace hall
Katin Duu: Room in the Ya Naa palace where the Ya Naa select adorns the regalia of the Ya Naa.
Yani: The Skins of Yendi or the kingship of Yendi
Selection of Ya Naa: The selection of the Ya Naa, until the early 1950s, was the responsibility of the traditional selection committee consisting of Kuga Naa, Gushie Naa, Gomli, and Tugri Nam. Kuga Naa is the official Baga of the Ya Naa. The post of the Kuga Naa was created during the reign of Naa Sitobu and his brother Sibie was the first Kuga Naa. The selection committee consults the spirits of the departed Yananima and soothsayer to establish the most eligible candidate for the nam. The most eligible candidate is one whose reign as Ya Naa will bring peace and prosperity to the kingdom. In 1948 the traditional selection committee was replaced by the modern selection committee consisting of divisional chief and elders (this new committee is a subject of dispute in the kingdom).
When the Kuga Naa and his committee have decided on the next Ya Naa the meet the Gushie Naa at the outskirts of Yendi. It is, by custom, a taboo for the Gushie Naa to enter Yendi after the death of the Ya Naa. The Kuga Naa informs the Gushie Naa who the choice of the selection committee is. Gushie Naa then enters Yendi with his entourage amidst drumming and dancing and rides to the Ya Naa palace where he pulls a piece of thatch from the roof of “Zon titali”. Gushie Naa hands the piece of thatch to Kuga Naa who later in the day sends it to the Ya Naa elect. This signifies official election of the Ya Naa.
Enskinment of Ya Naa: In the evening the Ya Naa select is led to katin duu where he is adorned with the royal insignia. The insignia includes a smock and hat belonging to Tohadzie, beads, calabash, a gourd, and a set of spears. He then sits on the royal stool, Gbolon, three times. In the early morning the newly enskineed Ya Naa is led to Zohe in a colourful procession amidst drumming and dancing to the house of the Zohe Naa where spends the first days of his reign. The Ya Naa also stays at the house of Mbadugu for a couple of days.
- “The Lions of Dagbon: Political Change in Northern Ghana”, Martin Staniland, Cambridge University Press. 1975
- “Ya-Naa: The African King of Power”, Ibrahim Mahama, Ghana Publishing Corporation?