n Institute of African Studies Research Review - Raids and refuge : the Bulsa in Babatu's slave wars

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0855-4412



From the 18th century the Grunshi, a group of peoples in the north of modern Ghana, suffered from the slave raids of centralised states, their southern neighbours, especially the Dagomba. Under Babatu (d. 1807), the leader of Zabarima warriors, slave raiding reached its peak.

This paper attempts to throw light on the defensive strategies of the Bulsa (Builsa), an ethnic group living southwest of Navrongo (U.E.R.), in battles and also on their habit of retreating into caverns when attacked. An examination of these caverns proved that, at least in the Bulsa area, a particular type is predominant. This consists of a secluded natural cavity, which can be entered only through a shaft and a horizontal tunnel.
It could be demonstrated that several caverns of the Bulsa and the Koma, their immediate neighbours, are today either earth shrines themselves or closely associated to such.

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