Ghana, Burkina Faso

The Frafra (also known as Gorse) are hardworking agricultural Gur-speaking people that forms a subset of Gurune/Gurunshi ethnic group in Northern Ghana and Southern Burkina Faso. The Frafra people who live predominantly in the north-eastern part of the Upper East Region of Ghana, called themselves in Gurune language as “Gorse,’ whilst some historians refer to them as “Gurune.” However, when a Frafra meets any Gurune speaking person he refer to him or her as “Mabia” (My family).

Their popular name Frafra is a colonialist term given to them by the Christian Missionaries, who when they first encountered Frafra farmers were greeted with the common greeting to people working “Ya Fare fare?”, which means “How is your suffering (work)?” The missionaries began referring to these Gurune people as Frafra, a derivation of the greeting, which eventually was adopted by the people themselves and has been popularized by the Southern Ghanaian peoples.

The Frafra are also well known for their artistic craft products: straw articles like hats and baskets as well as feather products. Their products can be found all over Ghana in the major towns that tourists visit. Since the colonial era Frafra youth have been compelled to emigrate to the southern parts in search of menial jobs.

The term Frafra is an umbrella term that refers to a number of ethnic groups that share the same cultural heritage yet have some minor differences in terms of language and ritual action. The similarities, however, in their culture in terms of ritual, language and style of life are far greater than the differences. There are four major ethnic groups that make up the Frafra people. We have the Gurune speaking, the Nabdan speaking, the Boone speaking and Talleni speaking. The Gurune speaking group occupies the central portion of the district sharing a border with the Kesena to the west.

Frafra people speak Frafra or Farefare, also known as Gurenɛ, language. The Frafra language belongs to Gurma Oti-Volta cluster of languages of the larger Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by over 600,000 people in the northern Ghana, particularly the Upper East Region, and southern Burkina Faso. It is a national language of Ghana, and is closely related to Mossi, aka Moré, the national language of Burkina Faso.

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