THE TALENSI TRADITIONAL AREA
The Talensi Traditional Area (Talenteng), which is located in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region of Ghana, was founded by a Mamprusi Prince called Musoore who left Nalerigu about 400 years ago.
In an interview with the Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area (Talenteng), Tongoraana Naba Kugbilsong Nalebgtang, who was enskinned in the year 2015 by the Nayiri (King of Mamprugu, Naa Bohugu Mahami Abdullahi Sheriga), the Paramount Chief gave the history of the Talensis as follows:
“The Talensi people are of two types:
The Talensi Tindamma, who are land owners and first settlers.
And the Talensi Namosi, that is those of us from the royal family.”
“We the Talensi Namosi (the royals) transited from Mamprug that is the Mamprusi kingdom. We are from Nalerigu and we are descendants of the Nab Gbanwaa stock. Our great ancestor and first chief of the Talensi area was called Musoore. He came from the Mamprusi Kingdom. He is said to be a prince who was defeated in the struggle for the kingship in Nayiri and he came here with his warriors and servants. Musoore is the great ancestor of the Talensi people or the Tongo Nayiri proper.”
“It is said that he (Musoore) came here somewhere 400/500 years ago and met the Gbezugu Tindaana (land owner or earth priest) who was called Tindaan Jenit. The Gbezugu Tindaana who was in charge of Gbezugu and the settler zone received him so well that he decided to settle permanently. In fact one of the daughters of Musoore got married to the Tindaana because of the fraternity that they had. It was the Gbezugu Tindaana who introduced him (Musoore) to the other Tindamma (land owners) within the land.”
It is said that Musoore had five sons who became the ancestors of the Tongo clan settlements of Yameriga, Shiega, Beo (Beong) and Pusu-Namogu. Their descendants later spread and founded other villages around the capital Tongo.
Tongo is the traditional capital of the Talensi people, the seat of the Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area and the capital of the Talensi District.
It can be seen from the above that the Talensi people are of two types: the Mamprusis (Talensi Namosi or Musoore biisi) who are the royals of the area and the Talensi Tindamma or Talis who were the first settlers in the area. The Mamprusis in the Talensi areas are called Talensi Namosi or Musoore Biisi meaning the descendants of Musoore, the first chief of the Talensi Traditional Area and a descendant of Nayiri and Naa Gbanwaa (Gbewaa). It should be noted that Prince Musoore was the first to establish chieftaincy in Talenteng but was not the first to settle there and not all Talensis are his descendants. Being the first chief and being the first settler are two different things.
It is only the Mamprusis (Talensi Namosi) who can contest to become Paramount Chiefs of the Talensi Traditional Area and it is the Nayiri (King of Mamprugu) and his elders who determine the right person to be enskinned at the Nayiri’s Palace in Nalerigu (The Traditional Capital of the Mamprugu Kingdom and the Capital Town of the North East Region of Ghana).
There are some Mamprusi villages in the Talensi district whose people are not descendants of Prince Musoore such as Namoalugu, Digaare, Bapella, Tolla and Nuungu. The founders of those villages migrated from Nalerigu around the early 1900’s. Such villages usually have Tindamma (land owners) who also function as chiefs. Those Tindamma are usually chosen by the Nayiri or his elders in Nalerigu but they are not enskinned as Paramount Chiefs even though they usually function as chiefs as well as Tindamma (land owners). The Talensi Traditional Council is currently making efforts to bring all those Tindamma under the Tongo-raana so that they will be enskinned by the Tongo-raana as divisional or sub chiefs under him for easy traditional governance.
The Talensi people speak the Talni language which is similar to the Gurunsi/Frafra dialect and so some people refer to them as Gurunsis/Frafras and most people do not know of their Mamprusi origin because they do not speak Mampruli anymore.