Overlooking Wa

Travel to Wa – Capital of the Upper West Region

Wa is the capital of the Upper West Region of the country and is the main city of the Wala people. The majority of the inhabitants are Muslim. It is the seat of the Wa-Na, the Paramount Chief of the Wala traditional area. Features of the town include several mosques, the Wa-Na Palace, a museum and a nearby hippopotamus sanctuary.

Wa has been inhabited for several hundred years, first by Lobi and then by Dagaare people, and then by Islamic scholars and traders who settled there in order to participate in the trans-Saharan trade. These newcomers adopted the Dagaare language and to some extent simplified its grammar, as well as incorporating numerous loan words from Hausa, such as lafia (satisfactory) and alabasa (onion). The name of the town means ‘come’ in the Waali language.

Wa is an agricultural community, and many people make a good portion of their living in small scale farming. The main crops are corn, millet, yams, okra and ground nuts. Upland rice is also farmed in a few areas. The major fruit crop is the mano. Shea nuts are collected from wild trees, for food or refinement into oils and cosmetics.

If you are visiting in late September the Dumba festival is worth a visit. The main traditional event of Wa it is typically held in late September to correspond with the harvest. The highlight of the year is a ceremony in which the Wa-na stepped over a small cow lying on the ground. According to traditional belief, if any part of the chief or his clothing touched the cow, he would probably die within the year. If on the other hand he stepped over the cow successfully, he was guaranteed a successful coming year.


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