The Reigns of Yaa Naa Bukari and Ya Naa Abdulai II

1717

Yaa Naa Abdulai II (1920-1938)

AbdulaiIIIn 1920, after the defeat of Germany, the British administration allowed the reunification of Dagbon and the enskinment of a successor to Yaa Naa Alasani. On November 20, 1920 the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Territories (CCNT), Captain C. A. Armitage, formally invited 35 Dagbon chiefs to Tamale to reunite Dagbon and request them to select a new Yaa Naa. In a speech to the gathering, the CCNT outlined the history of Dagbon under the British administration and asked them to set aside their differences and all misunderstandings of the past. He asked that personal considerations and vendettas be set aside and that a chief who is most suited to carry out the duties of Yaa Naa in the best interest of the people of Dagbon be chosen. The candidates for consideration were Mion Lana Abdulai, son of Yaa Naa Alasani, he had served as Gbon Lana after the death of Yaa Naa Alasani; Yo Naa Bukari, son of Yaa Naa Andani II, he was at this time advanced in age, blind and partially paralysed; Karaga Naa Ziblim, a great grandson of Yaa Naa Yakubu, though occupant of a gate skin he was not eligible for selection; British “Mion Lana” Abdulai, also son of Yaa Naa Andani II, he was appointed to British Mion by Karaga Naa Bukari Narkaw. This appointment was disputed by many especially the chiefs and elders of Togoland (German) Dagbon.

On November 22, 1920 the CCNT summoned the chiefs and asked if they had arrived at a decision as to who would be successor to Yaa Naa Alasani. The chiefs informed him that Yo Naa Bukari was chosen as new Yaa Naa. Yo Naa Bukari was unable to relocate to Yendi from Savelugu to serve as Yaa Naa because of his age and failing health. He abdicated, nominating Mion Lana Abdulai, Gbon Lana of Yaa Naa Alasani, to be enskinned Yaa Naa. Mion Lana Abdulai ascended the skins of Yani under the skin name Yaq Naa Abdulai II.

Yaa Naa Abdulai II appointed British “Mion Lana” Abdulai to the vacant skin of Mion. All indications are that the gathering of Dagbon chiefs of 1920 and events that followed were orchestrated by the British CCNT, Captain Armitage. He secured the unanimous nomination of Yaa Naa Bukari, his abdication and nomination of Yaa Naa Abdulai II. Even the enskinment of Mion Lana Abdulai (former British Mion Lana) to the skins of Mion were the wishes of Captain Armitage. The importance of the selection of both Yaa Naa Bukari and Yaa Naa Abdulai II is that it never followed the tradition and custom of Dagbon. They were not selected by the traditional selection committee through soothsaying and divination, but rather through a consultation of the divisional chiefs of Dagbon. The British government of the Northern Territories set out to rebuild the reputation of the Yaa Naa, especially with the chiefdoms of British Dagbon who had been severed from Yendi for a long time. The government acquired a truck for the use of the Yaa Naa and organized the visit of Yaa Naa Abdulai II to Kumasi in 1925 after the return of Nana Prempeh from exile in Seychelles. The British however, still influenced the nomination and enskinment of chiefs in Dagbon. They secured for the chiefs of the former British Dagbon advancement skins; for fear that Yaa Naa Abdulai II will deny them the skins in retaliation for their defiance of Yani under the British. One such occasion was the enskinment of successor to Yo Naa Bukari (Yaa Naa Bukari) who died in 1921. The British government of the Northern Territories influenced the selection of Bamvim Lana Abdulai for Savelugu. Even though the British had decreed they would not influence the selection and enskinment of chiefs in Dagbon, they still reserved the right to approve every enskinment. They instituted a probationary system for chiefs of Dagbon and could deskin any chief who was found to perform unsatisfactorily by British standards.

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