Sampa, Ghana

Sampa is in the Jaman Noth District in Bono Region of Ghana and shares a border with Côte d’Ivoire. It is the administrative capital of Jaman North District and was formerly the site of a Slave market in the colonial and pre-colonial era. It was also the capital of the the powerful Akan State, Gyaaman, in the late 15th century. Sampa is currently the biggest border town in Ghana which has a population of over 36,000. It is the largest Senufo town in Ghana. The people of Sampa speak various Senufo languages such as Nafaanra, Dyimini, Tagouna, Koulango, most of the people speak the Mande language; Dioula and some of the inhabitants speak Twi as a lingua-Franca because Sampa is a cosmopolitan society. Apart from Sampa, Nafaanra is also spoken in other areas like Banda District, parts of Tain District, and across the borders of Ghana, Nafaanra is Bondoukou, Katiola, Kenedougou, Korhogo, etc. of Cote d’Ivoire and other areas in Mali and Burkina Faso. It is the largest producer of Cashew in Ghana.

History

Sampa is derived from the Nafaanra Name or words; Sagah (name of a second male child), Sampa was named after one of its earliest rulers, who was called Sagah Nyonogboo. Sampa, capital of the Jaman North Municipal was originally called Sikasoko. It means gold powder. This explains the abundant gold in the area in times past. In the 1890s when the British and French colonialists established a boundary between their territories, Sampa which was known as Sikasoko was designated headquarters of the Northwestern Ashanti. Before Sunyani became the capital of the Northwestern Ashanti in 1906, Sampa had served as the capital of the district, which comprised Jaman, Wenchi, Techiman, Berekum, Wam (Dormaa), Ahafo, Odumasi, and Sunyani.

The ancestors of Sampa are said to have migrated from Kakala, a village in the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. The migration was necessitated by the Trans-Saharan trade that was bringing civilization from the south to the North as well as tribal wars in the area at that time. They were led by Tolee Sie Nyonogboo and Tolee Kra Longo. When they arrived at Tambi area, the chief of Jamera invited them to help fight the Klolosa tribe in the neighborhood. Sie Nyonogboo asked Kra Longo and his team to pass through the Banda hills while he and his team took the west direction. It took Sie Nyonogboo and his men a relatively short time to conquer the Klolosa army around the present-day Debibi and Namasa area. After the war, a parcel of land being occupied by the chiefs and people of Sampa today was offered as a reward for their role in the war and to further prevent the Klolosa people from attacking Jamera. Elders of Sampa explain that during the Trans-Saharan trade period, merchants from the south used to ply the main route that passed through Sampa to northern Africa. When they arrived at Sampa, they met the indigenes that wore cloth, a practice, which was not common at the time. The merchants preferred to say they were traveling to the land of the cloth-wearing people(Firantoma fo), instead of the specific name of their destination. The word ‘Firantoma fo’ has been corrupted to ‘Fantra fo’ by their Bono neighbors, though the people of Sampa find the name ‘Fantra fo’ as pejorative.

Sampa served also as an important center during the Slave trade era. Bones of the countless slaves dumped in a mass grave are still visible at a spot in the town of Jenini near Sampa. Other items of historical interest in Sampa include the bungalows of the expatriate administrators, a ruined chapel of the Presbyterian Church, and a cemetery of the colonial administrators with toms that date back to the 19th century.


Festivals

The two main annual festivals of the royal Stool of Sampa are the Songbee and Dwobofie. The former is celebrated in the latter part of June or July to commemorate the life and works of the ancestors. A highlight of this festival is the wrestling competition among the youth. Dwobofie is held in September to usher in the eating of new yam. It is taboo for the Omanhene (paramount chief) to eat yam before the festival.


Education

Several senior high and technical schools can be found within Sampa and its suburbs. This includes Nafana Presby Senior High which is rated among the best schools in Ghana. Others are St. Ann’s Girls Senior High School, Our Lady Of Fatima Vocational Training Institute, Maranatha Business Senior High School, Diamono Senior High, and Duadaso No. 1 Senior High/Technical school. Sampa is also the home of the Sampa Nurses’ Training College.


Health

Sampa has the Sampa Government Hospital which is a district hospital to support nursing training at the Sampa Nurses’ Training College. Several other private hospitals and clinics operate in Sampa. Recommended private medical facilities are the Pieta Hospital, along the Sampa-Kabile road, and Fountain Care Hospital, located behind Yankee Radio premises.


Economy

The major economic activities of Sampa fall under agriculture, commerce, industrialization, and service. Sampa was formerly a slave market site during the Atlantic slave trade in Africa and contemporary a Cashew market center in Ghana. Cashew buyers and purchasers from India and Vietnam have their company warehouses in Sampa. These companies have merchants in Bole, Wenchi, Dormaa, Techiman, Banda, and neighboring Cote d’Ivoire who transport Cashew nuts to Sampa before they are further transported to Tema for export. Again, Mondays are market days in Sampa. The Sampa Market is one of the largest in the Bono Region which sees foreigners from Cote d’Ivoire and other regions across the country engage in buying and selling.


Some notable personalities
  • Seth Appiah-Mensah

  • Siaka Stevens (Ghanaian politician)

  • Prince Kwabena Adu

  • Mathew Essieh