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

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

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)

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