by Isabella Nugent and Iddi Farouk

Dagbani language appeared since time immemorial. But the coming of Tohazie (the red hunter) gave the rebirth of the contemporary Dagbani we speaks today. Dagbani is the language, Dagbon is the kingdom, and Dabombas are the people. After the death of Tohazie, Naa Gbewa succeeded him. But the death of Gbewa brought a riot amongst the children as to who becomes the next king. The children of Gbewa who were spearheading this envy and hatred amongst themselves were: Tohagu, Sitobo, and Zerile.

And after the fight, all of them left their present home and resettled at different place. That is: Tohagu when to mamprugu and found the mamprugu kingdom, Sitobu moved a little beat from the present place and found the Dagbon kingdom and Zerile moved to Bimbila and found the Nanumba kingdom. From this brief history, you could see that Dagombas, Mumprusi and Nanumba are all from the same ancestor and can probably trace their linage to the one and only Naa Gbewa. Also, these three ethnic groups mentioned above understands each other language when spoken due to the common genealogical ties



N nyela               (I am)

A nyela               (You {singular} are)

O nyela                (He, She/Is)

Di nyela             (It is)


Ti nyela            (We are)

Yi nyela           (You {plural} are)

Be  nyela           (they are)


M bia              (My child)

A bia              (Your child)

O  bia               (his/her child)

Ti bia               (Our chili)

Yi bia              (your {plural} child)

Be bia              (their child)

NB: The pronoun ‘O’ (he, she, it) is used for human beings, all animate creatures and rain.


N nyela Ghana nira.                        > I am a Ghanaian.

Ti nyala Ghana niriba.                   > We are Ghanaians.

A nyela Ghana nira.                       > You are a Ghanaian.

Yi nyela Ghana nima.                    > You (plural) are Ghanaians.

O nyela Ghana nira.                       > He/ She is a Ghanaian.

Be nyela Ghana nima.                  > They are Ghanaians.

Ti nyela Germani nima.               > We are Germans.

Yi nyela Nigeria nima                 > You (plural) are Nigerians.

Be nyela Amerika nima               > T hey are Americans.


GREETINGS                                                    RESPONCES

(3)   (Gaafara) meaning: excuse me                               (Garima/kpemna). Means: cone in

NOTE: we normally say this before greetings commence. That is if people are seated and you are coming closer or you are entering someone’s room. You say Gaafara and that person or people will say Garima.


Dasiba. Menns:good morning.                               Naa (fine)

Antire. Means: good afternoon                              Naa   //

Aniwula. Means: good evening                             Naa  //



NB:  the use of the greetings in conversation.

(This is in a singular form)

Issabella beni? Meaning: is Isabella there or around?

Mm, m beni.  Means: yes am around.

Garima! / Kpema! Means: come in.

Dasiba: if is in the morning. Response is Naa/ Nnaa.


(Let’s see the plural conversation now)

Yi beni? Meaning: are you there. That’s if they are many in a room.

Mm, ti beni. Garima! Means: yes we are there. Come in.

Ti maasim (or) Ni ti maasim? Means: how is the coldness?

Naa (or) diso. Means: fine or is well.

A gbihira? Means: Do you sleep well?

Mm n gbihiya. Means: I slept well.

You Could Also Say.

Ni ti waligu? Means: how is the heat?

Naa………….Yi gbihira? Means: fine…….Did you sleep well (plural).

Mm ti gbihira. Means: yes, we slept well.

Yi mal’ alaafee (or) Gom beni? Means: hope you are well?

Mm, ti mal’ alaafee. Means: yes, we are well.



A ningbuna be wula?                                              > alaafee

How is your body or health?                                   > Well.

Jelinsi be wula?                                                       > alaafee.

How is the tiredness                                                > well.

A yidana be wula?                                                  > alaafee.

How is your husband?                                              > Well.

A yig be wula?                                                        > alaafee

How is your house?                                                > Well.

Kawula nyaa behagu?                                        > alaafee.

How is life?                                                       > Well.


Di be wula?                                                       > shee alaafee.

How is it?                                                       > Everything if fine.



A yuli?                          > What is your name?

N yuli Isabella.            > My name is Isabella.

Wula ka be boon da?       > How do they call you?

Be booni ma la Isabella.     > They call me Isabella.

Wula ka o boon da?           > How do he/ she calls you?

O boono ma la Isabella.     > He/ she call me Isabella.

Wula ka o booni omanya?    > How does he call himself?

O booni la omang Isablla.    > She calls herself Isabella.


Please make sure you read thoroughly before answering these questions. And please make sure you don’t copy for me okay hahahahahaaaah. GOOK LUCK.

Please give me the meaning of the words in BOLD?

  1. A ningbuna be wula?
  2. Jelinsi be wula?
  3. A yidana be wula?
  4. A yig be wula?
  5. Kawula nyaa behagu?
  6. Ti nyela
  7. Yi nyela
  8. Be nyela          
  9. O nyela              
  10. Di nyela


Dear Farouk,

Thank you so much for making me this! This is already amazing! I actually have already been thinking up possible ideas for our project. I was thinking we could prerecord audio books in English and Dagbani for the kids to listen to at home to help them practice their reading. Also, we could also make picture books for Titagya Schools with English words on one side and Dagbani words on the other side. What ideas are you thinking? Would either of those ideas be feasible?

Here are the answers for the practice questions you gave me!

1.      A ningbuna be wula?
Translation: How is your health?
Response: Alaafee -> Fine

2.      Jelinsi be wula?
Translation: How is your tiredness?
Response: Alaafee ->Fine

3.      A yidana be wula?
Translation: How is your husband?
Response: Alaafee ->Fine

4.      A yig be wula?
Translation: How is your house?
Response: Alaafee -> Fine

5.      Kawula nyaa behagu?
Translation: How is life?
Response: Alaafee -> Fine.

6.      Ti nyela.
Translation: We are

7.      Yi nyela .
Translation:You (all) are

8.      Be  nyela.
Translation: They are

9.      O nyela.
Translation: He/ She is

10.  Di nyela.
Translation: It is

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