According to research findings by J.J Meij and others in 2007, the exact origin of Bimobas is not well defined. However, all sources and oral history stated that they originated from east and west Africa, particularly from Burkina Faso towards the end of Shilluk reign, 1500 AD in the 16th century. Up to now, there is no precise and actual time when this happened.
So, the Bimobas travelled south from Fada Ngourma in Burkina Faso and then were driven north by the Mamprusis and Dagombas using Chokosi armed force, to the part of the country that they now inhabit. Drawing insights from writers of this oral history, it has been established that the Bimoba tribe or ethnic group is a mixture of diverse minor groups such as the (Bims, Moba, Daggams2 or Moba, Basaalis, Gurmas, and Konkomba). And within these groups, there is a clear differentiation of clans.
The Moba people, closely linked to the Bimoba on the other hand, journeyed from Sudan to the west of Africa and it is evident that some clans of the Bimoba (the Naniik, Kpikpira and Nabakib clans) were sub-groups of the Moba. Migrating from such area, they all stayed along the direction from Sudan to Ghana. Accordingly,” the Bimobas settled at the end of the line and claim that they have migrated from Sudan separately and seem to originate from nomad traders. Some other clans (Tambiouk, Maab, Bakpang and Tont) came, according to oral history, from the area that is presently known as south Togo and the Southern regions of Ghana (Ashanti and Dagomba land). Although the Moba has some form of tribe structure, there is no such structure in the Bimoba group. They belong to the acephalous tribes”.
Located in the North-eastern part of Ghana, the Bimoba (British Moba) people are the close relatives of the people in Togo (Moba people). Those in Ghana are called Bimoba, and those in Togo are the Moba people. Sources indicate that Bimobas belong to the Gur speaking ethnic group and these Gur languages (Central Gur) belong to the Niger-Congo language group. Approximately over 70 languages belong to this group, and it is spoken in countries within Sahelian and Savannah regions of West Africa such as; in Burkina Faso, Southern Mali, North-eastern Ivory Coast, Northern halves of Ghana and Togo, and North-western Niger. Despite their large numbers, the Bimoba people are the fragmented ethnic group in West Africa, because wars and conquest affected them badly. This clarifies why they are dispersed in Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali.
“At that time, they were effectively occupying their present homeland, the British and Germans were also extending their spheres of influence. The Bimoba were in the neutral zone established by the colonial powers in 1888; the Anglo-German convention of 1899 finally drew the international border to the west of their territory, placing the Moba under German rule”. Though, after World War I, Britain and France separated former German Togo between them and established the present border which shares between Ghana and Togo.). Further narratives suggest that the Moba were split into French and British areas, and those in the British territory were called British Moba or “B” Moba, hence the form of the word Bimoba in Ghana. Bimoba people in Burkina Faso call themselves Fada-Gurma, those in Togo preferred to be called Moba or Moab and those in Ghana Bimoba (British Mobas).
Bimobas are hardworking, friendly and very passionate people. Through hard work and long-term dedication to personal development, the majority of them are Settled in different parts of Ghana working and making considerable contributions to the growth and development of Ghana. Bimoba people didn’t have any form of festival until the revival of the Danjaur festival which aimed to be used as an avenue for promoting peace and development in the area. Among events during this festival include drumming, music, and dance. This brings together all Bimobas from far and near. Aside from this festival, there are different passages of life such as Funerals, Konnt, weddings etc.
The people hold funerals of older persons in great style mostly during the dry season. When a person dies, especially an elderly, the funeral performance is usually postponed until a season when family and close relatives are available to attend such rite. Funerals are very important to my people. Family or societal ties are strengthened at the funeral grounds. People who have not travelled home for a long time will be compelled to go for such funerals. The celebration of funerals affords communities with the opportunity to mobilize the people for family and communal development discussions.
Konnt is a ritual which my people used to perform in the past (hardly performed now). This ritual was seen and perceived as “holy and secret”. During the process of initiation, the persons are prepared and sent to an isolation area (three months for a man and four months for a woman). After this whole process, the person is given a name such as Konjit, Konduuk, Dinwaak, Tanjon et al. for women, and Laar, Duut, Kombat, Konbian, Lambon, Bombom, and Konlan for men. Now I guess you know the meaning of my surname KONLAN. It merely refers to a person who had undergone the Konnt initiation ritual. And the exciting thing is that this person can speak a secret language when they finally come out from the isolation. Interestingly, some women were forced to go through this rite, especially when you are given out for marriage and you refuse. After coming out, you will freely accept the same man you were refusing. I really hope I could understand what happens at the isolation. Men, on the other side, voluntarily decided to go through.
Aside from this, the area is endowed with incredible drinks, healthy and delicious foods, and other delicacies that one may not want to miss out. One of such delicious dishes is Tubaani which is made from either Barbara beans or any other beans. It is very healthy and delicious. The people also eat TZ as the main staples.
Pito is one of the most known traditional drink for my people. Staying there since childhood, I learned how to brew this Pito using sorghum. Pito is used during different occasions such as funerals, weddings, and during other smaller events. Women also brew to sell as a livelihood option. There can never be funeral without Pito. Secondly, during marriage ceremonies, Pito is part of the items sent to the woman’s family. Bunkpurugu is the district capital occupied by not only the Bimobas, but also Komkombas, Mamprusis, and other minor groups. The area is gifted with several tourist sites which one will be interested to see upon visiting. Among such places are the “African map” a stone formation of the African map situated in Bunkpurugu town, Nakpanduri scarp formerly the Gambaga escarpment (which shows the prettiness and admiration of nature) then the Nakpanduri Waterfalls, and the Kwame Nkrumah Guest House in Nakpanduri.
From this research, I have learned the meaning of my surname, Konlan (a name given to a man who had gone through the Konnt rituals). I have also gained an idea of why we are called Bimobas (British Mobas, which is out of British colonial influence). And lastly, I know where we originated (Burkina Faso) and our close relatives (those in Togo, the Mobas).
I have never paid close attention to history. Recently, when I started to write about my rural life stories, a close friend randomly asked about my origin and the meaning of my surname Konlan. This was a challenging question. I couldn’t answer immediately because I didn’t know much; and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. So, I decided to research my ancestry. Recently, I have come to learn that the Bimoba/Gurma ethnic group has a rich history. However, no comprehensive historical documentation is currently present. I am hoping to use this piece to elicit more insights from well learned and knowledgeable Bimoba people as well. I hope you enjoy reading it. Please do not hesitate to like, comment and share with others.
featured photo by Kwakudee