The emergence of the Yani gates is a pivotal era in the history of Dagbon. It is the beginning and the birthplace of the current crisis and Yani struggles in Dagbon. From the era of Naa Gbewaa, the Nam remained the preserve of Yanabihi and it was common for aspirants to use brutal machinations to ascend the skins of Yani. Brother rose against brother in war to reach the ultimate destination of all Yanabihi. The last of the Yanabihi to ascend the skins of Yani by use of force and murder was Ya Naa Yakubu I.Ya Naa Yakubu I (1799 to 1839)
During the reign of Ya Naa Suman Zoli (1778 to 1799), Yelizoli Lana Lagfu became very powerful and feared among his peers. Yelizoli Lana Lagfu was committed to assisting his uncle (his mother’s brother), then Mion Lana Yakubu to acquire Yani. Yelizoli Lana Lagfu and Naa Yakubu organized their forces and launched a surprise attack on Ya Naa Suman Zoli, defeating his army and killing the Ya Naa. Mion Lana Yakubu then ascended the skin of Yani under the skin name Ya Naa Yakubu I and ruled until his death in 1839. Ya Naa Yakubu I was the father of Naa Abdulai (Abudu) and Naa Andani, the founders of Abudu Yili and Andani Yili respectively.
During the kingship of Ya Naa Yakubu I, his nephew Yelizoli Lana Lagfu grew in strength and in the process acquired for himself nine different chieftainships. The chieftainships usurped by Yelizori Lana Lagfu included Zabzugu, Gbungbaliga, Tagnamo, Nakpachia, Korli, Kunkon, Demon, and Chim. The son’s of Ya Naa Yakubu I led by Abdulai, Andani, and Mahami feared that Yelizoli Lana Lagfu was getting too powerful and would eventually capture Yani upon their father’s death. Eventhough, Yelizoli Lana Lagfu was a PAGABIA and under Dagbon tradition had no claim on Yani.
The opportunity for the princes to eliminate the threat posed by Yelizoli Lana Lagfu came when Ya Naa Yakubu I became mentally ill. Yelizoli Lana Lagfu, hearing about his uncle’s ailment moved to Yendi and put Ya Naa Yakubu I in shackles to prevent him from causing mischief in town. This action of Yelizoli Lana Lagfu made it easier for the princes to convince other yanabihi that Yelizoli Lana Lagfu wanted to usurp Yani. The princes organized an army of Yanabihi and made war on Yelizoli Lana Lagfu in a battle at Demon. Yelizoli Lana Lagfu was killed in the ensuing battle.
The princes were not yet done with their machinations, since they were not occupants of Yani gate skins and could not ascend Yani upon the death of Ya Naa Yakubu I; Naa Abdulai (Abudu) was chief of Tampion, Naa Andani-chief of Nyon and Naa Mahami chief of Nakpali. The perfect opportunity for the princes came when the chief of Karaga, Naa Mahami, died. They conspired to acquire Karaga for one of them. Unfortunately, Ya Naa Yakubu I appointed then Sunson Naa Yahaya (his brother) to Karaga.
The princes would not have any of that. Firstly, Naa Mahami fought on the side of Yelizoli Lana Lagfu at the battle of Demon. Secondly, a soothsayer had warned them that if he was enskinned Karaga Lana, a Yani gate skin, he would succeed to Yani upon their father’s death. The third reason and probably the most important of all was to have one of them on a gate skin before the death of their father. The princes once again organized an army and ambushed the new Karaga Lana on his way to Karaga and killed him.
The action of the princes angered Ya Naa Yakubu I and he made war on them. The princes and their supporters once again became victorious in pivotal battles at Vitin and Banvim Dohini, near Tamale. They, however, spared their father’s life and he continued to rule until his death. The princes captured the skins of Savelugu and Mion and Naa Abdulai (Abudu) became Mion lana, Naa Andani became Yo Naa while one of their supporters Sakpe Naa Adama was promoted to the vacant skin of Karaga.
On the death of Ya Naa Yakubu I, his son, Mion Lana Abdulai (Abudu), became Gbon Lana and later enskined Ya Naa Abdulai I. His brother Korli Naa Mahami never lived to occupy a gate skin and never ascended the skins of Yani. Thus the third gate that would have been formed became extinct. Since his children could not rise above their father they were limited to skins at par with Korli.
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