A Trip to a Tampulma Community

Who are the Tampulma?

The Tampulma (or Tampolensi or Tamprusi) are a minority ethnic group primarily concentrated just west of the White Volta River around the town of Daboya.  They share their land with the majority Gonja people and have unfortunately been in the news often over that last few years due violent clashes over land, chieftaincy and taxation disputes. Their language of Tampulma (or Tamplim) belongs to the Gur group of languages and resembles Sisala, Mo and Vagla in some aspects.

What Do They Have To Do With the Mamprusi?

Some historians identify the Tampulma as the first to settle in northern Ghana – long before the now dominant Gonjas and Dagbamba ethnic groups.[1] While most Tampolensi are found in Gonjaland, they have a handful of small communities near Langbinsi in the Mamprugu traditional region that date back many centuries.

Unlike the Tampulma in Gonjaland, they have been at peace and cooperation with the majority group in Mamprugu. Centuries ago when the kambonsi warrior class was introduced into the Mamprusi fighting force, the Tampulma supplied the officers.[2] Some of the Nayiri’s elders and court are of Tampulma descent.

Where Did I Go and Why?

On Sunday, I visited a Baptist church in Tangbini, a small Tampolensi village a few miles northeast of Langbinsi. I had planned to preach in Mampruli until I heard how significantly different the Tampulma language was. I then opted to preach in Ghanaian English and let one of them translate directly to Tampulma.

I preached from Matthew 19 about when the young, rich man came to Christ asking, “What must I do to have eternal life?” I opened with a traditional folk tale of spider’s attempt to milk a bush cow. As always, using a traditional (and entertaining) story as an illustration really helped connect with the audience.

Our friend Auntie Talata, head of First Baptist Nalerigu’s WMU, had organized the visit so that she could speak to the women of Tangbini Baptist Church. She wanted to encourage them to organize themselves to meet together regularly to study the Bible, plan outreach events and support each other. After her inspiring talk the ladies agreed that they should choose a leader from amongst them and begin to be more active as a church body.

More To See

The escarpment is only a couple miles north of Tangbini so I’m planning to return on my bicycle in a week or two and spend more time with the folks there. I’ll try to take some photos of the village and get some drone shots of the scarp in that area.

1 Ajayi, J. F. Ade; Boahen, A. Adu, Topics in West African History. 1966.

2 Iliasu, A.A., “The Kambonsi of Mamprusi and Dagomba.” Legon University, Dept. of History, 1968.