Nayiri Palace: The cultural heart of Mamprugu in Nalerigu

Stories and facts

The Nayiri Palace, located in Nalerigu, serves as the traditional seat of the overlord of Mamprugu and stands as a vibrant center of cultural activities in the region.

This historic palace, deeply rooted in the traditions of the Mamprusi people, is more than just a residence for the paramount chief; it embodies the institution of chieftaincy itself. In Mampruli, the term "NaYiri" translates to "chief’s house" (with "naaba" meaning chief and "yiri" meaning house).

While every village in Mamprugu has its own "naa yiri," the NaYiri in Nalerigu holds a special status as the abode of the paramount chief, who is simply referred to as the NaYiri.

The Nayiri Palace is the focal point for many cultural celebrations, including the renowned Damba Festival. During such events, large crowds gather at the palace to partake in the festivities, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Mamprusi people. Naa Bɔhaga Mahami Abdulai Sheriga has been the overlord of the Mamprugu Traditional Area since 2004.

Under his reign, the Nayiri Palace has undergone several renovations, enhancing its grandeur and significance.

Anthropologist Susan Drucker-Brown’s drawings from the 1960s, juxtaposed with an aerial shot of the palace in 2017, reveal that the palace’s layout has remained consistent over the past 60 years. The palace saw significant improvements during Naa Bɔhaga’s reign, including repainting in 2015 and the addition of pavers in 2017.

It is a Mamprusi tradition to abandon the palace following the passing of the NaYiri. The chieftaincy then moves to another "gate" or family clan, who will restore their gate’s palace when their NaYiri is enskinned.

The current NaYiri is from Naa Sheriga’s gate, while the ruins of Naa Bɔŋŋu’s palace can be seen on the northeast side of the bus station across from the Central Mosque.

The NaYiri Palace is centrally located in Nalerigu, just southeast of the bus station. While the palace is visible from outside, entry is restricted. Bicycles and motorcycles are prohibited from crossing in front of the palace, and violators incur a fine.

To visit the Overlord, one must arrange a visit through a local representative, such as a chief or court elder, who will escort the visitor into the palace. A gift or "kola" for the chief and the guide is customary.

The best times to visit the NaYiri Palace are during the Damba Festival or the Fire Festival. Visitors may also witness a chief being enskinned by the king if they are fortunate. The palace has hosted notable visitors, including doctors from the Baptist Medical Centre (BMC), who have had the privilege of meeting the NaYiri and receiving traditional blessings.

The Nayiri Palace remains a significant cultural and historical landmark in Mamprugu, preserving the rich traditions and heritage of the Mamprusi people.



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