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Burkina Faso Independence: The Story of Princess Yennega, a Mamprusi from Northern Ghana who Birthed the Mossi Tribe of Burkina Faso

Aug 04, 2021 09:30AM ● By Oga Africa

Statue of Princess Yennega in Burkina Faso. Image Credit: Sheroes of History)

Happy Independence Day, Burkina Faso! On August 5th, 1960, this West African country gained independence from France. Today we are exploring the story and legend of Princess Yennega, a Mamprusi woman from present-day northern Ghana whose son founded the Mossi kingdom of Burkina Faso.

Princess Yennega was the daughter of a Mamprusi chief named Naba Nedega, who was the ruler of the Dagomba Kingdom and lived in Gambaga. Yennega lived sometime between the 14th and 15th centuries. Nedega raised his daughter to be a fierce warrior, and she became adept at handling a bow and arrow and hunting.

Yennega was said to love horses and was raised as a male child by her father, Nedega, who worked to capture tribes to the East of the Dagomba kingdom. Her tall and slender physique made her an excellent warrior, and when she was a young woman, she joined her father’s army.

Although her father trained her to be a strong warrior, Yennega dreamed of having a normal life. There are different versions of stories that explain why Yennega ran away from her home. The main story says that one day she was walking in her village and saw a young mother feeding her child, and became unsatisfied with her position as a warrior. She attempted to persuade her father to let her find a husband, marry and have a son. Her father refused and said she would marry later. After this, she mounted her horse and ran away to present-day Burkina Faso.

 (A traditional croft in Bitou, Burkina Faso. Image by Sputnikilt via WikimediaCommons)

Legend says that after absconding, she became lost in the forest, and stumbled upon an elephant hunter named Riale. Riale, who lived in the forest of Bitou in modern-day Burkina Faso, is said by some to have come from Mali and ran away when he learned his brothers thieved his family’s inheritance. In the bushes of Burkina Faso, Yennega gave birth to a son, named Ouedraogo, who would go on to found the Moaga or Moose Dynasty in Burkina Faso.

When Ouedraogo was a young boy, Yennega sent him to Gambaga to greet his grandfather. Ouedraogo studied under Nedega, and when he completed his studies, returned to Bitou, and established the Moose/Mousse/Mossi kingdom.

Do you know anyone of the Mossi tribe? Have you heard a different version of this story?

Comment below!

Works Cited

Read more about Burkina Faso:

Burkina Faso Independence Day Exploring a Unique History

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