When British authorities were constructing a road in the 1950s at Larabanga, a Muslim community in the northern region of Ghana, they found a mysterious stone on their path.
The stone was, therefore, removed to pave way for the road to be constructed at where it lay. But the next morning, the road contractors found that the stone had returned to its original place, legend says.
Shocked, the contractors moved the stone again, but it came back to its original place. This happened for three days, and when authorities were alerted about the “mystical powers” of the stone, the contractors decided to leave it and were compelled to change the direction of the road.
Today, when one moves to Larabanga, about 6km southwest of the Mole National Park and 21km away from Damongo, the capital of the West Gonja district, they will find the stone in the exact same location authorities had tried to move it from.
With a population of about 1500 inhabitants, predominantly farmers, residents of Larabanga grow yam, millet, sorghum and maize. Their elders have termed the stone as the Mystic Stone or the Wish Stone, and the sacred object is found closer to the famed Larabanga Mosque (Ghana’s oldest mosque, and one of the country’s most revered religious sites), serving as a tourist site to many people across the world.
Others also use the site as a place of worship, hoping to receive miracles of healing, childbirth and financial freedom, just at the touch of the stone.
The mystical powers of the stone can be traced to the years of Ndewura Jakpa, an African king and founder of a dynasty in Gonja in the early 17th century. Being the leader of the Gonjas, Jakpa had wanted to conquer and unite the vast lands in West Africa, but this was proving difficult due to the diverse tribes and kingdoms that resisted his move.
Kango, an ancient town in present-day Cote d’Ivoire had fiercely resisted Jakpa in his attempts to unite the lands. Thus, to help him in his mission, Jakpa invited the first Kamaras to Ghana – Idana Ibrahim and Fatawu Murkpe – who were spiritual leaders to guide him and his troops in battle.
The two had come from present-day Saudi Arabia, and possessed several magical charms, which they used in helping the Gonjas to capture Kango. They would later assist the Gonjas as administrators of Islamic law, as conflict mediators and as prayer leaders, writes Rajeev in 2013.
Jakpa later died in battle when he crossed the White Volta. Before his death, he told Idana Ibrahim, who was now too old to return to Saudi Arabia, that he could settle anywhere on the lands he (Jakpa) had conquered.
Varying accounts state that Ibrahim sat at the Mystic Stone offering some prayers for direction from God as to where to settle in Gonja land. While praying, he had a dream that he should throw a spear and wherever it fell would be his home. He should also build a mosque there.
He did as he was told in the dream the next morning, and the spear landed on a “high fertile ground” at “Zuriyir”, a village where the “Dhen Zuo” people had earlier settled and left. On that particular site, Ibrahim realized that the foundation for the mosque had already been built.
Ibrahim started building the mosque, which legend said increased in height every night over and above what was built during the day. With divine intervention, he completed the mosque within a short notice and called the place his home. He would offer prayers at the Mystic Stone while building the mosque.
Ibrahim soon realized that he would need a Quran, as an Islamic leader. At the time, there were only seven handwritten Qurans, and they were all in Mecca, according to accounts.
Ibrahim, upon advice from a spiritual leader, went to the Mystic Stone and prayed for a Quran to be brought to Larabanga. Legend says that one of the original seven copies of the Quran from Mecca was delivered to him from the Heavens.
Today, this copy of the Quran is preserved at Larabanga by a caretaker and only made public each year during the Fire Festival for special prayers when the Muslim new calendar begins, sources told Rajeev, who had visited Larabanga for information about the stone and mosque.
Many other Muslims outside Larabanga and even people of other faiths and religions, head to the town during such occasions for blessings and to seek more about the Quran, the mosque, and of course the Mystic Stone, which reportedly stopped one Samuri Turi, belonging to present-day Guinea, on his all-conquering spree of West Africa.
The following videos have details about the sacred stone and its accompanying Sudanese architectural-styled mosque: