The Kusasi people (var. Kusaasi) are an ethnic group in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso. They speak Kusaal, a Gur language.
Several other denominations are used for the Kusasi: ‘’Kusaal’’, ‘’Kusale’’, or ‘’Koussasse’’.
They form the majority of the population in Ghana and speak Kusaal. This is part of the Gur language that is also dominant in northern Ghana. The Kusasi population in Ghana is estimated to be around 646,000.
Neighbors are the better known Mamprusi in the south and Moba in the east. This region, however, exhibits a highly diversified ethnic mix, even in the core areas of the individual peoples, and local migration is frequent.
The Kusasi people are farmers. Their staple foods are rice and yams, mostly when they are in season. The Kusasi also utilize Hausa and Moore languages for trading; however, they have a great affiliation towards their native language. It is even used to teach in schools and local churches.
The dominant religion in the area that the Kusasi occupy is Christianity. Churches have done various community empowerment works in the area.
The Kusasi are considered as being autochthonous; they adhere to the typical animistic beliefs of West Africa, including ancestor worship; the influence of Islam is still minor.
Their language is Kusaal, which belongs to the Oti‐Volta sub‐group of the Gur languages.
Concerning the statuary, images or photos of Kusasi statues or figures could not be found in older literature – it is only recently that works attributed to the Kusasi have appeared on the tribal art market,. Interesting, however, is a photo of a statue published by Seefried in 1911and designated as ‘’Fetischplatz beim Häuptling in Kpatua, Moab‐Land’’ (fetish place at the chief’s in Kpatua, Moab‐region) (Moab is an alternate name of Moba). The same photo was published by Küas in 1939, however with the designation ‘’Fetischgerät in Kpatua‐Mamprussi’’ (fetish tool in Kpatua‐Mamprussi).
A search for the village of Kpatua reveals finally that it is located in the influence area, and not core area of the Mamprusi (or Mamprussi), but in the core area of the Kusasi.
This example again highlights the difficulty of attributing statues and objects of northern Ghana and Togo to a specific ethnic group. Considering i) the above mentioned pronounced small‐scale heterogeneity of the ethnic groups and frequent migrations, ii) the also frequent mixing of the cultures of autochthonous and immigrated equestrian peoples (Mamprusi, Dagomba, etc.), and iii) the not always clear denominations of the peoples, a precise and unquestionable attribution of cultural objects to individual peoples in northern Ghana and Togo is impossible in many cases. The only possible attribution seems one related to the location of collection (if reliably known), i.e. for instance ‘’Statue from the Kusasi region’’, rather than ‘’Statue from the Kusasi’’.
Statues from the Kusasi region, 62‐108cm, (left), 1911 (right)
Some say that the community has always been part of the northern corner of Ghana. Others state that the Kusasi came to Ghana's north territory while escaping enslavement by the Mossis and Busani.
It is said that the Kusasi people migrated to their current region in search of more fertile farmland. They came from the White Volta region in Mamprugu before colonization. The Paramount Chief of Mamprugu created new posts for chiefs. This allowed him to open new trade routes between the Nalerigu, Tenkudougu and to provide escort for traders from the north.
The Kusasi migrated mainly from Biengu, Zwaga and Yuiga, which are currently in Burkina Faso. They ended up settling majorly in the outskirts of Baku and took part in crop farming and animal husbandry.
The Kusasi have a typical traditional dance that they perform at funerals. This is meant to allow the dead to reach their ancestors in the new world successfully.
The most dominant dance style during these events is the Tuk dance as they jam to Kusasi music.
The Kusasi people celebrate the Samanpiid festival whereby they thank God for a bumper harvest in the farming season. They started commemorating it in 1987.