Konkomba–Nanumba conflict (also known as the Guinea fowl war) was a tribal war in Northern Ghana in 1994. It was fought between the Konkomba, Nawuri, Nchumuru, and Basare tribes, versus the Nanumba, Dagomba and Gonja tribes on the other side. The basis of the war were tribal claims over land ownership. The violence reportedly claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced 150,000 persons.
The Konkomba-Nanumba conflict (Guinea fowl war) conflict was sparked on 31 January 1994 in the market of the small town of Nakpayili, near the Togolese border in up-country Ghana, over the price of a guinea fowl. Initially, the clash occurred between two men: a Konkomba and a Nanumba. The two men were engaged in a common, intense Ghanaian pastime – bargaining. One outbid the other for a black guinea-fowl. Tempers flared into a brawl. Next day, the man outbid killed his rival, the Nanumba man, sparking a less common Ghanaian activity: tribal war. The clashes resulted from longstanding grievances over land ownership and the prerogatives of chiefs. A military task force restored order, but a state of emergency in the region remained in force until mid-August 1994.
The hundreds of people who lost their lives and thousands of them that lost their valuable possessions and several hundreds who were rendered homeless constituted a national catastrophe. A major war strategy of the combatants involved the destruction of farmlands of opponents in order to force them to surrender.
The ‘soft African state’ has proven incapable of structuring society in a manner to contain ethnic conflicts once they have occurred. By the close of 1995, the Guinea Fowl War had claimed over 1,000-2,000 deaths, 150,000-230,000 displaced and destruction of over 500 villages.
To restore law and order, the government declared on 10 February 1994 a state of emergency in seven areas of the Northern Region where the fighting was taking place.
The Northern Region is one of the sixteen regions of Ghana. It is located in the north of the country and was the largest of the sixteen regions, covering an area of 70,384 square kilometres or 31 percent of Ghana’s area until December 2018 when the Savannah Region and North East Regions were created from it. The Northern Region is divided into 14 districts. The region’s capital is Tamale.
The Konkomba-Nanumba conflict (Guinea fowl war) appeared to be handled by the Rawlings Government effectively, and abuses by the armed forces were rarely reported. His government made several attempts at peace and reconciliation and as of the end of 1995, the conflict was well under control if not fully resolved. Rawlings urged the combatants to work for the prosperity of the region and country and tried to convince them that internal conflict would only cause larger problems in the long run.