I see a lot of people making fun of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo’s boots to the coronation of the Yaa Naa in Yendi yesterday. They’ve been calling it “Wellington boots”. I know many of us don’t know our history and especially the history of other ethnic groups other than ours. So the ignorance is forgiven.
The boots worn by the president is a massive cultural statement that he must be commended for not mocked. He chose one of the ancient symbols of Dagbaŋ(Dagbang) royalty for the occasion so you either read up on it and find its significance or just keep quiet rather than expose your ignorance with derision and mockery. From the 10th century, the people who will later be the leaders of Dagbang, Mamprusi, Mossi, Nanumba, Waale, Builsa, Dagaaba, etc originated from the Sahel region of Africa (Southern Sahara and just below the Sahara) in present day Lake Chad region of Niger. These were mainly horsemen raiders. Some Dagbamba oral historians even claim they were of Arab origin: Toha Zhie-The Red Hunter (I am not sure how later Islamic incursion might have influenced this).
Anyway, the Mugri was worn by these horsemen who were mainly cavalry for their incessant raids on other groups and communities. Dagbang princes and kings were not ones to sit at home and away from the battle fields so they were also led cavalrymen in their armies. You can’t wear open and loose sandals when you are riding on horseback in high speed. So the Mugri was the footwear of choice for these raiders and Dagbang princes and kings. Dagbang warriors always had horsemen cavalry in their battles. And since most conflicts and kingship succession disputes were resolved through battle, kings’ statuses were mainly showcased through ownership of a horse along with enough of his strongmen and allies owning horses. So today, even with no more open warfare in Dagbang, any village or town chief worth his salt has a horse alongside his Mugri. The Mugri is hand-sown leather mainly of cows and in very rare cases lions/leopards usually designed by eminent Dagbang leather smiths (gbanzaba). By the way, the second picture on this post is of Samini, the reggae singer who was made sub-divisional chief of my Waale cousins in the Upper West region, decked in full customary Mole-Dagbang regalia, looking fly as hell 👔.
You might not see ordinary Dagbambas wearing these because you’ve only known Dagbambas as part of the modern Ghanaian Republic. But a little reading is needed when you are commenting on another ethnic group. And please, not everything nice we have in Ghana has a Western origin. So say no more of Wellington boots.
📸 1 Credit: Lorrencia Nkrumah, a Kasem sister.
📸 2 Credit: Rainbow Radio