Where Did We Get The Name Ghana?


Th true origin of the name Ghana has sparked many controversy among historians. Those outside the academia simply put it that Ghana is actually an acronym coined by the first Prime Minister and President of this country, Dr kwame Nkrumah; GHANA stands for ‘God Has Appointed Nkrumah Already.’ However, history debunks this funny origin of the name, Ghana.

The country Ghana was named after the greatest ancient empire, established by ancestors of modern Ghana around Timbuktu. Old Ghana Empire, first of the great medieval trading empires of western Africa flourished from 7th–13th century. That empire was supposedly named after one of our greatest kings who ever ruled the empire. The actual name of the king had since been corrupted to become Ghana by the Arab traders and European writers.

In getting the real name some writers had since made different suggestions believing to have come out with the real or at least closer to the original name . Unfortunately most of these early historians were none Ghanaians who based their theories mostly on oral stories from the Arab traders as a result these Europeans also maintained the corrupted name to make pronunciation of the name become easier for them. The corruption of the name started from the Arab traders who came to do business with the indigenous people.

Some of these historians especially the British, suggested that the name was actually Gana. This became a guideline for some recent Ghanaian writers who also theorized that the name was derived from Ga-Adagbe word, Ga-Naa ( meaning king of Ga people) which is also a title for a king of the Gas in Ghana. But history clearly shows how these Caucasians (Europeans) are good at destroying indigenous names.

James Mooney in his book History, Myths, and Sacred formulas of the Cherokees exposed that the Cherokee who we know today actually called themselves the ‘Tsaragi’ or Tsa’la’gi. “Cherokee, the name by which they are commonly known, has no meaning in their own language, and it seems to be of foreign origin. As used among themselves, the form is Tsa’lagi or Tsa’ragi. It first appears as Chalaque in the Portuguese narrative of De Soto’s expedition, published originally in 1557, while we find Cheraqui in a French document of 1699, and Cherokee as an English form as early, at least, as 1708,” (Mooney: 1992, pg 15). This shows how Europeans pronunciation of indegenous names could not be relied on for historical purposes.

Another theory also stated that the name was not GANA but KANA since the indigenous people were the same people who came from Israel as Hebrews starting as back as 800 BCE during the war of Kaka (QAQAR), through the great revolts until 318 AD when the last batch of Hebrews moved to Africa to form the new empire. And since Kana was one of their towns in Israel it is believed that the empire was named after this empire but had since been corrupted to be Gana.

Another theory had it that the name might be GYATA since one Gyata led the people in their migration from Mesopotamia to form the empire in Timbuktu, therefore the
empire might have been named after this first leader, Gyata.All these theories sound very good and appear to be very convincing. But it is evident in history that Guinea was part of the empire who first migrated to their present location. Their colonial rulers, the French corrupted the name to become Guinea.The corruption of the name came as a result of different accent from the Europeans and Arabs. In this case one would not be wrong to say that the actual name is either closer to or between GUINEA and GHANA.

Now history has it that after the destruction of the empire by Arabs through war in 1024 the people migrated to West Africa to form kingdoms (of which Ashanti is well known in world history) in Gold Coast. Upon their arrival they first settled in Bonomanso where one of their early villages, GYENEGYENE,was established in remembrance of the empire. From this, having studied the trend of Europeans’ and Arabs’ pronunciation of Akan words and names, can now reveal that the original name of the king and the greatest empire was GYENE, pronounce as DJENE or DJINI.

In getting this word I conducted “nine person test” on the name. I wrote GYENE on a paper and asked nine people from England, France and Saudi  Arabia (three each) to pronounce it: 2 of the English pronounced it as GAEEN, the other pronounced it as GIANE; The Arabs pronounced it as GI3N3; and The French pronounced it as GIEENE. So from this I came out with the conclusion that the name was neither GUINEA, GANA, KANA nor GYATA but rather GYENE.


Osomafo Kwasi Brother and Boadu



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