Please enable JS

Kasem

The Kasem Language

Kasem is considered one of the Grũsi or Gurunsi languages, a group of Gur languages, which form part of about 20 languages spoken by the people of Gurunsi. The Kasem as part of the Gur languages is spoken in the Upper East Region and Burkina Faso. The language of the Kasena people called Kasem is spoken mostly in three traditional states in the Upper East Region of Ghana namely Paga, Navro and Chiana traditional areas. People in these three traditional areas and their affiliate communities are the speakers of the language. The people that speak the language are normally referred to us Kasena or Kasembu. The Kasena people appreciate variations in the Kasem language spoken by the various communities in the three traditional states mentioned above. Variations in the language can either be described as White Kasem ‘Kasem-pwoŋo or Black Kasem ‘Kasen – zwono. The one that is believed to be easily and friendly spoken in many communities are known as the Kasem pwoo whilst the Kasem zwono appears to be quite heavy, pure and difficult to understand. Though they may be several differential dialects of the Kasem Language, both within and outside the boarders of the Kasena people, there are broadly three main Kasem dialects spoken in the Upper East Region of Ghana. These are Navannea Kasem, Paga Kasem known as Paga-tiini and Chiana Kasem also known as Chiana-tiini.

Navannea Kasem

This dialect of Kasem is not as deep as those speaking by Paga and Chiana communities. The speakers of the Navannea Kasem dialect can further be grouped into Navrongo Kasem communities and Nankani- Kasem speaking communities.

Navrongo Kasem

The Navrongo Kasem is said to have evolved over the years due to language influence from the Nankani speakers. Though the speakers of the Navrongo Kasem do not speak Nankani but the two somehow understand each other. This Kasem dialect is not as deep as the one speaking by the Paga people or the Chiana people. Among the communities that speak the Navrongo Kasem include the below;

Telanea
Bavogonea
Bawiu
Pungu-Yangwoa
Saboro
Mmanyoro
Wusunu
Pendaa
Pungu-Manchworo
Pungu-Yogebanea

Nankani-Kasem (Navaneene)

The speakers of the Nankani-Kasem are located in areas in the Southern and Eastern Navrongo. This language was widely used by the Catholic Mission in the Navrongo area. Most of the books written were done in the Nankani-Kasem language and it became a dialect thought in Catholic schools around Navrongo. Though the language is considered by some Kasena people as Nankani-influenced-Kasem, the people when spoken is easily understood by both the Kasem and Nankani speakers around the Southern and Eastern Navrongo. Among the communities that speak Kasem and Nankani include the following:

Nayegenea
Punyoro
Vunanea
Jananea
Pungu-Yetɔnea
Biu
Kologo

Paga-tiini

It is perceived that the Paga Kasem also known as Paga-tiini is quite typical in nature and spoken by the communities around Paga traditional area and its environs. Though the Po division of southern Burkina Faso considers the Paga Kasem as impure in comparerism to theirs it is one of the unique Kasem dialects in Ghana. In Paga and its affiliate communities there are several variations that could be identified in their Kasem dialect, but all are grouped as Paga Kasem or Paga-tiini. Among the communities found of speaking variety of Paga Kasem include the following;

Kakungu
Nanea
Gwaru-Border
Zenga
Babele
Keyelo
Kajelo
Nakalo (Boanea, Banyono,Bugani, Kuliyea,Kasele)
Sakaa
Chania
Navio
Kazugu
Badunu
Nyaanea
Baloo
Nabio
Tazika
Bagtoa
Gea

Chiana-tiini

There are many communities within the Upper East region that speak this dialect of Kasem which is mostly considered as the dialect of Chiana Chiefdom. Though there are slight variations of the Kasem dialects spoken in various parts of communities considered as speakers of Chiana-tiini, they are all grouped under Chiana in terms of dialect identification. The Chiana-tiini is different from the Navannia and Paga Kasem dialects and has its own uniqueness. Among the communities that speak the Chiana-tiini include the following;

Wurunea
Yedaanea
Asunea
Gugworo
Abweinea
Adonea
Saboro
Gweinea
Abulu
Kananea Nyenenea
Kafaanea
Kayoro
Nakono
Katiu

Other Close Dialects

There are other close communities that do not speak the Kasem dialects but rather speak only Nankani. Among these communities, which could be found mainly in Paga-East include;

Sirigu
Mirigu
Nabaago
Achorbisi
Kumsusingo
Kasselirgo
Manyoro

There are also 13 communities found in the Sisala East as Kasem speakers.These Communities and that of Upper East Kasena trace their origin to the same root. These thirteen (13) Kasem communities include the following;

Basissan
Bano
Konchogo
Pina
Kapun
Wuru
Tanveli
Katwene
Pino
Kasanpwori
Tanlaa
Kunswala
Nitolo