Salt Mining in Daboya: A history forgotten but not lost
Daboya, located some 67 kilometres northwest of Tamale may not be a major household name in Ghana today, mostly due to the growth of commercial cities like Tamale and Wa in the northern part of Ghana. However over a century ago, Daboya was probably the most popular town in the Northern region famous for its mass production of salt and vibrant commercial activities.
Over a half of the salt consumption of Ghana in the 1700s and 1800s was supplied by Daboya as a majority of the women and men in the town were engaged in the salt mining business, making it one of the most active and commercially vibrant towns in Ghana.
Today, Daboya can no longer be regarded as the salt hub of Ghana. While salt is still mined and produced in the ancient town, it is in lesser quantity compared to centuries ago, and the salt production today is only meant for the local market and consumption.
The collapse of the Daboya salt market could be attributed to the desire for iodized and refined salt in the 21st century. The change in preference of Ghanaians resulted in the importation of granulated and refined salt from Europe, killing off the Daboya salt market which supplied unrefined salt in its natural state.
This, has however not stopped people from paying visits to the town to see the salt mining centres that once made Daboya a hugely successful commercial city in Ghana and West Africa.
The gradual decline of the salt business in Daboya gave way to another craft in the form of fabric weaving. Today, the town of Daboya is more famous for its hand woven traditional smocks than its production of salt. In fact, a majority of the fine hand woven smocks worn in the Northern region are produced in Daboya.
While the town is not the most visited in terms of tourism, Daboya has the potential to become a major tourism destination in Ghana considering its rich and storied history, coupled with historical sites such as salt mines and hand woven fabric centres. Daboya may be on the brink of being forgotten, but its rich history is not lost.