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You are welcome to the Wa, Ghana home page!

This web page is (still!) the only (as far as I know) devoted to the city of Wa, Ghana; in all of its aspects, and to the Wala people. It is intended that this page be of use to scholars of Africa, as well as travelers and all those who enjoy Africa. It is also hoped that this page will be a means of communication for Wala people throughout the world.

Sad news

According to the Ghana News Agency, GNA, the Wa-Na Alhaji Yakubu Seidu Soale II, has died. He passed away Monday morning, September 4, 2006. Minga na ven kuu

Author's introduction

My name is Thomas Anderson. I am currently an employee of the U.S. Federal government in Washington, DC. I was formerly a graduate student at Duke University. I also spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer living and working in Wa, Ghana and met my lovely wife, Barikisu Bea Anderson of Suuriyiri, there. Wa is a small city of about fifty thousand people in the northwestern corner of Ghana, West Africa. It is the capital of the Upper West Region, which includes Lawra, Tumu and Nandom. An interesting page devoted Lawra and Navrongo in the Upper East Region can be found at Lawra and Navrongo Home Page. A good page devoted to the Peace Corps experience in Tumu is Trevor's Tumu Page. A very comprehensive list of websites devoted to the Peace Corps experience is at:

Peace Corps Journals

Click on one of the areas below to learn more about Wa.

Travel | Greetings | History | Dumba | Proverb | Agriculture

For a dsecription of my personal experience as a volunteer,click here

The palace of the Wa-Na, ruler of the Wala traditional area. The building is an excellent example of the Sudanese style of traditional architecture.


Those going from Kumasi, in southern Ghana, to Bobo Dioulasso (or the other way around) will probably stop in Wa. There are several hotels that are reasonable -- Kunateh Lodge, near the Ministries, or the Catholic Guest House (commonly known as "teegbere" or "stretch your legs"). The Upland hotel on the west side of town is quite comfortable but inconveniently located. The airport has been renovated so that the runway no longer crosses the road to Lawra, making it easier for the occasional flight. The UWCA internet cafe is still active.

Moving On

There is bus service from Wa to Kumasi (three times a week), to Accra (three times a week alternating with Kumasi), to Tamale (daily), and along a line from Wa to Hamile (daily). The Tamale bus stops in Larabanga, which is the closest town to the entrance of the Mole National Park.


Greetings are as important in Wa as in the rest of Africa, and failing to greet someone is very rude. Wala people are pleased to be greeted in their own language, even if that is all that you can say. The standard greetings are: The individual who has been greeted will reply to you with a series of questions each of which can be answered "O be son" ("It is well").


Wa has been occupied for several hundred years. The original inhabitants were Lobi, who now live mostly in Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire. They were displaced by the Dagaare, who were in turn displaced by the Wala. The Wala adopted the Dagaare language and modified it, simplifying some of the grammar and introducing Hausa and Arabic loan words. The Wala are an aggregation of different peoples- Moshi from Burkina Faso, Manding from Mali and Hausa from Nigeria - who settled in Wa attracted by the devotion to Islam and the commercial opportunities offered by the trade between the forest and the desert. Indeed the name of the town Wa means "come" in the Waali language.

Wa is unusual for northern Ghana in having a written history that extends back several centuries. A detailed history of Wa can be found in Wa and the Wala, by Ivor Wilks, available at university libraries or at

Dumba Festival

The central traditional event of the year in Wa is the Dumba festival, which takes place in late September. It is partially a celebration of the harvest, partially a means of insuring success in the upcoming year's cycle of planting and harvesting and generally an excellent opportunity to have a good time. The preliminary events are several days of drumming and dancing and visits by traditional chiefs from outlying villages of the Wala traditional area. The culumination is a dramatic ceremony in which the chief of Wa steps over a cow lying on the ground. If he does this successfully, the coming year will be a success. However, if any part of his body or clothing touches the cow, the coming year will be a poor one and the chief is not likely to survive it. As would be expected, a very small cow is generally used. So far as I know, he is always successful.

A photo of the festival in 1992


The Waali language is rich in proverbs. A couple of my personal favorites:

The exact interpretation of these is left as an exercise. The orthography of the Waali is my own and is, in all likelihood, quite wrong. The ethnologue database has more information on the
Waali language.

Food and Agriculture

Agriculture is important in Wa. The most important crops are maize (kamaana), millet (chi), rice (mui) and beans (benga). Groundnuts (peanuts for us Americans, jenne for the Wala) are the most important cash crop and are also an important food crop as anyone who has ever had a satisfying bowl of Wala groundnut soup can testify. The most common vegetable is okra (maanee). Extraordinarily, some visitors to Wa find the slimy texture of boiled okra unpalatable.

There is a pressing need for improvement in farming techniques, especially in agro forestry, the combination of farming with planting of useful trees. More information on this topic is available at:

World Agrofoestry Center

My favorite picture from my time in Wa, young Lydia harvests groundnuts

What is the weather like in Wa today? It's hot!

Weather Underground

For a deeper appreciation of Ghana, spending some time in one place with the local people is invaluable.
Perhaps they will offer something in Wa, in which case the information on this page would be pretty useful! Disclaimer: I have no personal experience with this organization.

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A nice page of links to other Ghana oriented websites

Page last updated on April 2, 2008. Thanks to the good folks at for hosting (for free!).
New! Online Waali-English dictionary!

Please send me email if you have comments, questions or suggestions!