What is is the origin of the term WASSA


I think that I have a reasonable, if garbled version, but does anyone know the origin of the term 'WASSA' used in the Nigerian and Ghanaian military?

My experience of a WASSA was a unit all ranks drinks, meal, traditional dancers and music, and some speeches by the Commander including prizes for meritorious individuals. It was held at about this time of the year.

I have been told that the term WASSA hails from the colonial period and the West African Frontier Force. People tell me that 'WASSA' comes from West African Soldiers’ Social Association or something like that and it was something that the Brits set up. Nowadays it is a generic term used for a sort of Bn/unit smoker often at Xmas time but not necessarily. I know that the Nigerian and Ghanaian armed forces still use the term. Sierra Leone seems to have lost the tradition and I do not know about Gambia. It is also my understanding that ‘wassa’ means something like ‘party’ or ‘festivity’ in Hausa.

Can anyone, perhaps old and bold from West African Frontier Force help?



War Hero

My father did his time with the West African Frontier Force in the mid-late 40s. He is away traveling at present but we are due to meet for New Year. I shall ask him and post again if you haven't had anything definative in the meantime.

A brisk search of the net shows that the wassa is a kind of African version of the Indian Army's durbar, and the Ghanaian Army for one are still carrying them on! No clues on where the name comes from, although there is a state of Wassa in Ghana.

Look forward to hearing why it was so called...



Yes, I tried a quick Google on this and it wasn't much help which is why I posted here in the certainty that someone would be able to help.

Interesting that you raise the Wassa in Ghana. I'd overlooked it but now I'll look into it some more in between bits of dull work here in the office. I don't know about this Wassa State of yours in Ghana. Ghana is split in to Regions which are then sub divided into Districts. The Wassa are an ethnic group living predominantly in the Western Region and there are at least 3 Dirtricts that include the word ' Wassa' in their name. I'll do some more digging.

Thanks for the reply.

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