Origin of Gushegu(Gushԑɣu)

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How did Gushԑɣu came to being? We are told that,the origin of Gushԑɣu dates back to the period of the reigns of Naa Zolgu as king of Dagbong whose reigns was so powerful that,other kingdoms from afar and near appreciated the sense in his strengthful and mightful rule . It was during this period in question that, a Mossi man by name Dambore migrated from the Mossi kingdom to settle in Dagbong. Dambore lineage could be traced to the great Ouedrago,founder of the Mossi kingdom who was also a grandson of The great Naa Gbewaa because Ouedrago’s mother Yennega(Yantaure) was a princess of Naa Gbewaa. Dambore,an affluent Mossi prince felt that,he had been robbed off his claim to the Mossi throne hence thought Naa Zolgu as the only influence he could probably use to overturn the selection of his elder brother by name king Zoetre(son of Kouda and Tempoko) who was chosen at the expense of Dambore. Dambore thought he was surely the surest bet for the vacant Mossi throne in 1441 considering his wealthy nature but kingmakers of the Mossi kingdom thought differently. Dambore gave a narrative of how he was robbed off but elders of Yendi counselled Naa Zolgu to also dig deep into the matter before acting. The counsel from the elders of Yendi informs Naa Zolgu decision to delegate some elders to the Mossi kingdom to unravel the truth of the matter. The elders of Yendi got to the Mossi kingdom where they were warmly welcomed to which they told elders of the Mossi kingdom their mission. The elders of the Mossi kingdom revealed every crux of the matter to the delegation and winded it up by saying”The current king though poor,is the elder brother of the affluent but disgruntled Dambore,so he can only wait and pray for as and when the kingdom became vacant again,he can lay claim unopposed”.

The delegation returned to Dagbong and briefed Naa Zolgu the facts presented to them by elders of the Mossi kingdom. Naa Zolgu requested for Dambore to also brief him what the elders of the Mossi kingdom said,Naa Zolgu then asked Dambore “if that was really true?”.Damboee remained silent which implied that,the elders of the Mossi kingdom were right in their selection. Dambore pleaded with Naa Zolgu to give him a place to settle for his following and his properties were copious enough to carry them back home to the Mossi kingdom. Naa Zolgu called for the chief of Tolon as at then and informed him on the urgent need for a parcel of land for Dambore who,when our roots as Dagombas are traced critically, was our cousin. Our present day “Kasuli Yili” was demarked for Dambore and his following. As it is stated by historians,Dagombas weren’t stable in their settlements and even before Dagbong was relocated to west Dagbong from east dagbong, Dagombas initially settled somewhere else before moving to a place around Diare known as “Yani Dabari” and then to “Bichaanpu” the present day fount of authority. So when Naa Zolgu moved to ” Yani Dabari” ,Dambore again requested for a relocation because his following and properties were fast increasing than their place of settlement and they further had issues with the Gonjas who were not far from their settlement. Dambore pestered Naa Zolgu to the extent, that gave Naa Zolgu headache. Naa Zolgu called for the various chiefs such as: Naa Ba kpԑma Kariga Naa,Naa Bapra Tɔnŋ Naa and Naa Bapra Kpatinŋ Lana and lay Dambore’s plea before them and further begged them with the saying”Sonŋmiya ma ka ti Gubi-Shԑ danŋ”. It was through this saying particularly ( Gubi-Shԑ danŋ) that,the name “Gushԑɣu” was formally carved out of. The trio of Naa Ba kpԑma Kariga Naa,Naa Bapra Tɔnŋ Naa and Naa Bapra Kpatinŋ Lana each demarcated parcels from their boundaries which was given to Dambore.

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Dambore since then, lived in Gushԑɣu as its chief till the year(1486) when Naa Zolgu died bringing to an end the reigns of Naa Zolgu. Arrangements of the final funeral rites of Naa Zolgu was set. As the main funeral begun, elders of Yendi,subordinate chiefs,divisional wing chiefs,commoners etc all started paying homage to the regent of Naa Zolgu,Zuu Zonŋ but conspicuously missing was Dambore. On the day of the dressing of quiver(Loɣiri Bobbu) and circumambulation of the palace(Yili Gilibu) as Namo Naa and other elders of Yendi awaited for sundown to climax the main event, Dambore together with his horse riders,elders and his following from Gushԑɣu raided the Gbewaa palace with the agility of the leopard. Dambore took everyone by his surprise family-play(Dachahili) of claiming the Yendi skin and definitely attempted entry into the hall of the palace. The elders of Yendi secretly conspired with the confidantes/lieutenants (Naazo bihi) to resist Dambore’s attempt entry into the hall of the palace in order to prevent Dambore from breaching the dagbong customs. Dambore surged towards the palace main hall but his attempt was met with an apparently impenetrable defence line drawn up by the confidantes/lieutenants (Naazo bihi). It was in the course of this headlong scamper that,the confidantes/lieutenants (Naazo bihi) had the opportunity to lift Dambore in efforts to pull him back from entering the palace main hall and in a split of seconds,Damobore held onto the straws from the palace main hall. Dambore removed the straws and continue to hold onto it as he was pulled back by the confidantes/lieutenants (Naazo bihi). Damobore felt self- ashamed for not succeeding which informs his decision to head for the Kuɣu Naa’s palace. Dambore went and reported to the Kuɣu Naa what had been meted out to him with the straws in his hands as evidence of his claim. Kuɣu Naa disapproved and disassociated themselves from what the confidantes/lieutenants (Naazo bihi) have done and reassured Dambore of their firm decision to admonished the confidantes/lieutenants (Naazo bihi) involved. Kuɣu Naa then pleaded with Dambore to lodge at a village whiles the regent of the immediate pass Yaa-Naa Zolgu in the name of Zuu Zonŋ was prepared for the circumambulation of the palace. Dambore headed for Gushԑɣu but made a stop over at a particular village around that realm called MalӠԑri where he chose to lodged upon the advice of Kuɣu Naa.
And usually after the circumambulation of the palace, a new Yaa-Naa is scheduled for selection asap on that night in accordance with the traditions of dagbong. Zuu Zonŋ was selected to succeed his late father as king of Dagbong in the year 1486. On the following day which fell on Friday, the Kuɣu Naa also came to finalised his roles required of him when a new Yaa-Naa is selected. When Kuɣu Naa came to the Gbewaa palace along with the straws Dambore drew from the palace main hall when he attempted entry into the palace main hall. When Kuɣu Naa was done with his functions and as everybody were anxiously waiting to see how the newly selected king moves to Zohԑ to spent his night there, as soon as Zuu Zonŋ stepped foot out of the royal museum ready to ride the donkey, Kuɣu Naa handed over the straws to Zuu Zonŋ inquiring if he knew where it came from? But Zuu Zonŋ answered in the negative. Kuɣu Naa briefed Zuu Zonŋ events that transpired when Dambore graced the funeral rites of Naa Zolgu,his father. Kuɣu Naa recommended that, Zuu Zonŋ ought to look for a smock,red crown hat, some amount of money and a sheep coupled with some chieftaincy stuffs such as(Salmata,jinjam,Namda etc) were to be sent to Dambore as a way of asking for forgiveness. These materials were sent to Dambore who was at MalӠԑri and that brought the issue to a happy end. The origin of Gushԑɣu started and ended in a family-play(Dachahili).

Some people wanted to find out if we could desert some customs and traditions that more or less raises needles arguments and were in nonexistence to Dagbong in some era? The simple answer is that,if such customs and traditions weren’t in existence but now finds its way into our practices as Dagombas,we can no more abandoned it. It must be stated without any inkling of equivocation that,the thatch that Naa Yab- Gushԑɣu Naa draws for Naa Yab- Kuɣu Naa to select who becomes Yaa-Naa cannot be deserted on any day. Why do I say such customs and traditions can’t be deserted? All our customs and traditions weren’t in existence but now,we practice them and apply them in our daily routine with joy. Certain chiefs have a specific functions to carry out during the selection of a new king of Dagbong. These chiefs are; Naa Yab- Kuɣu Naa,Tugri Nam,Gomli and Naa Yab- Kpatii Naa,whose functions are recognized and accepted by all and the authorities as far as the selection of a new Yaa-Naa is concern. When a seating Yaa-Naa dies and his funeral is due,it is incumbent on the Gushԑɣu Naa to draw the thatch for Naa Yab- Kuɣu Naa for selection of a new king of Dagbong shortly after the performance of the departed Yaa-Naa. But it is necessary to note that, Naa Yab-Gushԑɣu Naa has no hand in the selection of the king of Dagbong. Naa Yab- Kuɣu Naa,Tugri Nam,Gomli and Naa Yab- Kpatii Naa are those responsible for executing the role of the Yaa-Naa selection. Let go down the memory lane a bit, Naa Yab- Kuɣu Naa was a prince of Naa Gbewaa. Tugrinam and Gomli were all brought to dagbong all the way from Biun. They are those responsible for carrying out that function. When Naa Gbewaa was reigning as king,we had nothing like Gushԑɣu. When Ӡirili succeeded Naa Gbewaa upon the death of Naa Gbewaa, Gushԑɣu was still in nonexistence. When Naa Shitobu succeeded after Ӡirili, we had nothing like Gushԑɣu Naa. Naa Shitobu commanded that,Naa Nyagsi be selected by Kuɣu Naa Sibԑԑ as the new king of Dagbong whiles Naa Shitobu was still alive and kicking, better still, Gushԑɣu was in nonexistence. When Naa Zulandi succeeded his father (Naa Nyagsi) as king of Dagbong in 1416, Gushԑɣu could still not be located but Naa Yab- Kuɣu Naa and the three distinguished remaining chiefs such as:Tugri Nam, Gomli Nam and Naa Yab- Kpatii Naa were all already in existence. Even after the ascension onto the Yendi skins by Naa Biԑrigudeera in 1442-1454 and Naa Darigu deera in 1454-1469, historians have it that,we had nothing like Gushԑɣu Naa!

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IMAGE: Gushԑɣu Naa Bawa(Zɔnŋ kpuɣiri kpuɣi zu Zɔnŋ kpiinga).

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