Upper-West

History & Heritage of Northern Region

The Upper West Region has a land area of 8,842 square kilometers (3%) of Ghana’s total. The Dagarba, Lobi, Sisala, Vagla and the Wala, all of who speak distinct languages, inhabit this region. Total population of the region, which comprises five administrative districts – Jirapa-Lambusi, Lawra, Nadawoli, Sissala and Wa, – is 573,873. It is the gateway to Ghana from Burkina Faso, which is a traditional crossroads for the Trans-Saharan trade routes. An exciting introduction to Ghana, much of the landscape is broad savannah grasslands, dotted with the strange-looking baobab trees, or striking Sahel terrain. In the villages, with their distinctive round huts, communal activities go on as they have for generations.

The principal border posts from Burkina Faso are found at Hamale, Kapulima. Paga and Kulungugu.

The Upper West Region has a different feeling, as a more traditional region. The capital of the region is Wa which is also the seat of the Wa Naa, Paramount Chief of the Walas. The magnificent palace still stands as stately as it did when it was first built in the 19th century. The uniquely styled traditional village houses of round mud-walled structures connected by walls forming large compounds are well adapted to the demanding climate of this region.

Gbelle Game Reserve, located 17km south of Tumu, is an important sanctuary for endangered species of wildlife, as well as hippos, elephants and bucks. Birdwatchers consider this an important habitat for indigenous and migratory birds.

Although a great deal of development is taking place in these regions, access to outlying areas can be difficult at certain times of the year and during and after heavy rains.

Attractions

Gbelle Game Reserve
17km south of Tumu, the reserve (565km²) is a sanctuary for indigenous wildlife, particularly its large herds of roan antelope, and is part of Ghana’s Conservation Programme.

Wa Naa’s Palace
The 19th century palace with its distinctive architecture is the official residence of the Wa Naa, traditional chief of the Walas. In front of the palace are graves of previous Wa Naas.

Gbollu Defence Wall
Gbollu, 70km north of Wa, was part of the slave route. In the 1`9th century Gbollu Koro Liman built the wall as part of its defence against the slavers

George Ferguson’s Tomb
George Ekem Fergusion was a Ghanaian colonial agent who was instrumental in convincing local chiefs to sign treaties of friendship with the British. He was later (1897) killed by slave raiders, but his tomb preserved in Wa

Cultrual Festivals & Events

Gologo/Golib festival
This festival is celebrated in March by the Talensis of Tong-Zug just before the planting of grain. During the three-day festival, sacrifices are offered to the gods for plentiful rain and good harvest. There are no durbars except the performing of a series of rituals climaxed by public dancing amidst music and general merry-making.