Naa Zangina, King of Dagbon (1648 to 1677)

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The ascention of Naa Zangina to Yani is a very important milestone in the history of Nam in Dagbon. Since the foundation of the kingdom of Greater Dagbon through the conquest of Naa Nyagse, the skin of Yani was preserved for YANABIHI. Since the Ya Naa traditionally had several wives, the number of aspirants and eligible candidates for the Nam grew with every Ya Naa. On the death of Naa Gungobli there were nine contestants for the skins of Yani. All the contestants were sons of Naa Titugri, except for Andani Sigli, who was the son of Naa Zagli. The contest was so fierce that the elders feared for a civil war. The elders not able to reach a consensus as to which of the contestants would become Ya Naa referred the selection to the Nayiri (the paramount chief of Mamprugu).

The Nayiri asked each of the contestants to prove his wisdom and show that he is best suited to ascend the skins of Yani by choosing a proverb. As it is in Dagbon, every Naa upon ascension to the skins chooses a proverb to guide his reign. After the choice of proverbs by the contestants and consideration of the Nayiri, Naa Zangina, the youngest of the sons of Naa Titugri and the wealthiest of the contestants, received the nod of the Nayiri. Prior to his ascension to the skins of Yani, Naa Zangina was a very successful and wealthy trader. Some contend that Naa Zangina bought his way to the skins of Yani. Second on Mamprugu Nayiri’s list was Andani Sigli. Nayiri decreed that he would be Naa after the death of Naa Zangina.

After the ascention of Naa Zangina, the constitution of Dagbon, which hitheto preserved the skins of Yani to all sons of a Ya Naa, was amended. The amendment limited eligibility to the skins of Yani to those Yanabihi occupying the “gate skins” of Karaga, Savelugu and Mion. This amendment was to eradicate the bitter, and sometimes bloody, contests amongst Yanabihi to the skins of Yani.

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