Monument Of Slavery: Nalerigu Defence Wall

The Nalerigu Defence Wall is one of the most famous monuments of slavery found in the Northern part of Ghana. Originally known as the Naa Jaringa Wall, the ancient wall is located in Nalerigu in the East Mamprusi District of the North East region.

The wall was built in the 16th century by the then ruler of the Mamprusi ethnic group, Naa Jaringa and surrounded the entire village of Nalerigu, protecting the people from the vicious slave traders from Burkina Faso and Mali.

According to historical evidence, the village of Nalerigu was situated in the middle of the slave trade route between Djenne in Mali and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. This resulted in some of Naa Jaringa’s subjects being captured and sold as slaves by traders crossing from the two areas. To put a stop to this and protect his people, Naa Jaringa put up the famous wall around the village to shield and protect his people from traders crossing from the two areas.

Oral folktale also has it that, Naa Jaringa was a very ambitious man who wanted to nip his name in the history of the Mamprusis and be remembered forever. He saw the construction of the wall as a monument that could keep his name in the history books of the people long after his demise.

Very little remains of the mud-built wall today, with erosion eating away almost the entire structure and leaving just a small portion standing. Irrespective of this, the Nalerigu Defense wall is a monumental structure in Ghana’s slave and colonial past and continues to receive patronage from tourists, especially those from the Americas and Europe who wish to see first-hand some of the ancient monuments of the slave trading business.

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Nalerigu: What the capital of the newly created North East Region has for tourists

Ghana has six more regions which add up to the existing ten to be sixteen.

The North East Region is one of the newly created ones and was created off of the Northern Region after voters voted YES in a referendum.

Ghana’s President Akufo Addo named Nalerigu as the capital of the North East Region.

Jetsanza.com takes a look at what’s in for tourists in Nalerigu.

Being the largest town in the East Mamprusi Municipal Assembly, the traditional capital of the Mamprusi people, as well as the seat of the Paramount Chief the NaYiri, there was no doubt that Nalerigu would be selected as the capital of the newly created North East region of Ghana.

Attractions in Nalerigu

Nalerigu Defence Wall

The Nalerigu Defence Wall is the remains of the Naa Jaringa Walls, which lie under a grove of trees. The wall is located in the village of Nalerigu in the East Mamprusi District, about 120 km south-east of Bolgatanga, about 156 km from Tamale and 8 km past Gambaga, in the Northern Region of Ghana.

This wall was built in the 16th century by Naa Jaringa (named after the African viper), a powerful chief of the Mamprusi ethnic group. The Defence Wall initially surrounded the entire village, but now only a few ruins remain.

The slave route, between Ouagadogou in Burkina Faso and Djenne in Mali, passed close by. The wall was erected for two reasons: firstly, to protect inhabitants from slave raiders, and secondly, to ensure that Naa Jaringa’s name would always be remembered.

According to local tradition, the wall was built with stones, mud, honey and milk.

Damba festival

The chiefs and peoples of Nalerigu celebrate the Damba festival. It is also celebrated by the people of Tamale, and Wa.

The festival is celebrated in the Dagomba lunar month of Damba which corresponds to Rabia al-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar. In the past few years, the festival has been celebrated in November and December.

Dambai Festival PHOTO: William Haun
Dambai Festival PHOTO: William Haun

Damba Festival marks the birth and naming of Muhammad, but the actual content of the celebration is a glorification of the chieftaincy, not specific Islamic motifs.

NaYiri Palace

NaYiri Palace in Nalerigu is the palace of the Paramount chief of Mamprugu Traditional Area. The current Paramount chief is Nayiri Naa Bohagu Mahami Shirega.

The NaYiri, Overlord of the Traditional Mamprugu Area, sits in front of his palace in Nalerigu, Ghana during an enskinment ceremony for Mamprusi chiefs. He is surround by his traditional council of elders, subchiefs and warriors. NaBɔhaga Mahami Abdulai Sheriga, is the son of the late NaSheriga who ruled as the paramount chief of the Mamprusi in the 1950s and 60s. PHOTO: William Haun
The NaYiri, Overlord of the Traditional Mamprugu Area, sits in front of his palace in Nalerigu, Ghana during an enskinment ceremony for Mamprusi chiefs. He is surround by his traditional council of elders, subchiefs and warriors. NaBɔhaga Mahami Abdulai Sheriga, is the son of the late NaSheriga who ruled as the paramount chief of the Mamprusi in the 1950s and 60s. PHOTO: William Haun

Health Volunteers

Nalerigu is also popular among volunteers in the health sector. Medical students and professionals have volunteered at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu. The health facility provides volunteers who travel to the town the opportunity to serve the people in their respective medical fields. Volunteers take advantage of their stay to learn basic Mampruli language to socialise effectively with the locals.

IMB missionary Dr. Earl Hewitt rounds with patients in the pediatric ward at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana. He is assisted by 4th year medical student volunteers Jessica Van Bibber (left) and Heidi Haun (right) PHOTO: Baptist Medical Center

If you are a nurse or a medical doctor, you may want to take up this volunteering opportunity.

Getting there

By Air

It’s not possible to access Nalerigu by air. However, travelers from Accra can travel by air to Tamale and continue their journey by bus. It’s 3 hours to travel by bus from Tamale to Nalerigu.

By Land

Traveling by land is highly recommended if you want to catch a glimpse of Kumasi, Techiman and other cities as part of your trip to Nalerigu. Traveling by land to Nalerigu could be tiresome if you are not using your own car which will permit you to make stops in various cities for even up to a day. It can take up to 15 hours to reach Nalerigu via Tamale.

References:
Nalerigu Defence Wall (Ghana Museums and Monuments Board)

Gambaga Escarpment: History, Best Hiking Points

The Gambaga Escarpment is one of the longest and largest plateaus in Ghana located in the newly created North East region. The plateau stretches across a series of towns in the northern part of the North East region, running all the way from the Walewale township to the border town of Tusugu where we have the Ghana-Togo northern border.

The distance of the plateau stands at 100km while its highest point is around 300m high up from the ground level making it one of the most exciting places to go hiking for tourists.

Primarily, the scarp is made up of fine quality layers of sandstone with the top usually covered by amazing green vegetation especially in Gingana, Naamoori and Nakpanduri (three of the towns the plateau runs through)

Best Hiking Points

Currently, the best hiking point along the escarpment can be found at Nakpanduri largely due to the accessible nature of that portion of the scarp and also because it is among the highest point. Once at the apex of the Nakpanduri portion, tourists can see almost the entire town of Nakpaduri as well as nearby towns for an epic viewing experience. The beautiful green vegetation atop the cliff also serves as an extra attraction for tourists hoping to choose a point to ascend to the top of the scarp.

Aside from the accessible nature and beautiful vegetation of the Nakpanduri escarpment, there are other unique features which are all located along the pathway to the top of the scarp. Most notable of them being an umbrella-shaped rocked and a couple of caves believed to have been home to the prehistoric people.

 

Wildlife

The lands surrounding the escarpment used to be home to wildlife, and tourists could easily see them while atop the plateau but that is no longer the case today. Human activities like hunting and other factors have driven away animals such as the elephants and deer that used to live in the forest decades ago. Today, the only wildlife still left in the forest are monkeys and baboons and even with that, they are very few in terms of population, as such it is very rare to see them when you visit the plateau today for hiking and touring.

Notwithstanding, tourists are likely to encounter some smaller wildlife creatures including different species of the wild lizards and other rare insects while hiking.