A Drummer's Testament:
Dagbamba Society and Culture in the Twentieth Century


Assembled drummers

Dedicated to Musicians and Friends of Musicians

This is the website-in-progress for A Drummer's Testament, which is the product of a collaborative ethnographic project.  The principal authors are John M. Chernoff and Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulai.  Principal collaborators are Kissmal Ibrahim Hussein, Benjamin Danjumah Sunkari, Mustapha Muhammad, Alhaji Mumuni Abdulai, and Rev. Daniel A. Wumbee.

The menu currently links only to the following posted chapter portals, front matter, and draft chapters in web and PDF formats:

John Chernoff's Introduction
   
Volume I:  The Work of Drumming
    Part 1:  Alhaji Ibrahim's Introduction to the Work (Chapters 1-9)
    Part 2:  The Work of Drumming (Chapters 10-14)
    Part 3:  Music and Dancing in Community Life (Chapters 15-21)
    Part 4:  Learning and Maturity (Chapters 22-23, 25)

Volume II:  Old Talks
    Part 1:  Chieftaincy (Chapter 8)
    Part 3:  Festivals (Chapters 17-18)
    Part 4:  Religion and Medicine (
Chapters 19, 21-26, 28)

Volume III:  In Our Living
    Part 1:  Economic Life (Chapters 1-3, 5-6)
    Part 3:  Children (Chapters 11-16
)
    Part 4:  Householding (Chapters 17-24)
    Part 5:  Old Age (Chapters 25-26)
    Part 6:  Conclusion (Chapter 27)



A DRUMMER’S TESTAMENT:  Dagbamba Society and Culture in the Twentieth Century

Collaborators and Research Associates
Project status and chapter update history
Maps:
    Ghana 1977   PDF / JPEG
    Northern Ghana 1977   PDF / JPEG
    Dagbon 1977   PDF / JPEG
Summary Table of Contents  <PDF>
Expanded Table of Contents  <PDF>
Guide to Pronunciation  <PDF>
Currency note
Acknowledgments

JOHN CHERNOFF'S INTRODUCTION 
   Preamble:  Trees  <PDF>
    Dagbon:  Close from a Distance  <PDF>
    Relative Systems  <PDF>
    The Anthropological Heritage  <PDF>
    Dagbon:  Closing the Distance  <PDF>
    The Ethnographic Seed  <PDF>
    The Translation  <PDF>
    The Creative  <PDF>
    Testament:  The Eulogy of Alhaji Mumuni  <PDF>
    The Treasure  <PDF>
    The Receptive  <PDF>


Volume I:  THE WORK OF DRUMMING


Part 1:  ALHAJI IBRAHIM’S INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK AND THE DAGBAMBA WAY OF LIVING
    1:     The Benefits of Friendship and Why We Should Do the Work as a Group  
    2:     The Dagbamba Way of Living in the Villages and in the Towns
    3:     The Sense of Dagbamba and Their Living in the Olden Days
    4:     Respect and the Dagbamba Way of Living Together
    5:     The Way of a Stranger and How a Stranger Should Live in Dagbon
    6:     Greetings and Respect in Dagbon
    7:     How Dagbamba Send Messengers
    8:     The Debt of the Stomach
    9:     
Patience, Truth, and How We Should Do the Talks

Part 2:  DRUMMERS AND DRUMMING IN DAGBON
    10:    The Work of Drumming
    11:    The Respect of Drumming and How Drumming Started in Dagbon
    12:    Drummers and Other Musicians of Dagbon
    13:    How We Make Our Drums and Gungons
    14:    How a Drum Is Beaten


Part 3:  MUSIC AND DANCING IN COMMUNITY EVENTS
    15:    Proverbs and Praise-Names
    16:    The Praise-Name Dances and the Benefits of Music
    17:    How a Person Should Dance
    18:    Baamaaya, Jera, Yori, Bila and Other Dances of Dagbon
    19:    Takai and Tora
    20:    Funerals
    21:    Muslims’ Funerals and Chiefs’ Funerals


Part 4:  LEARNING AND MATURITY
    22:    How Children are Trained in Drumming and Singing
    23:    Traveling and Learning the Dances of Other Tribes
    24:    Drum Chieftaincies
    25:    How Drummers Share Money

Volume II:  OLD TALKS:  DRUMMERS, CHIEFS, HISTORY AND RELIGION

Part 1:  CHIEFTAINCY
    1:    The Forbidden Talks of Drumming
    2:    How Drummers Search for the Old Talks
    3:    Old Talks:  The Origins of Dagbon
    4:    Naa Shitɔbu and Naa Nyaɣsi:  The Founding of Dagbon
    5:    The Yaa-Naa and the Elders of Yendi
    6:    The Organization of Chieftaincy
    7:     How Princes Get Chieftaincy and Go to Hold a Town
    8:     How Chiefs Judge Cases

Part 2:  HISTORY
    9:     The Drum History (Samban’ luŋa)
    10:   The First Gonja War:  Naa Dariʒɛɣu and Naa Luro
    11:   Naa Zanjina and the Coming of Islam
    12:   The Second Gonja War:  Naa Zanjina and Naa Siɣli
    13:   The Cola and Slave Trades:  Naa Garba and Naa Ziblim
    14:   The Pre-Colonial Era:  Naa Andani and Naa Alhassan
    15:    Modern History and the Chieftaincy Crisis

Part 3:  FESTIVALS IN COMMUNITY LIFE AND THE WORK OF DRUMMERS
    16:   Festivals:  The Fire Festival
    17:   Festivals:  The Damba Festival
    18:   Festivals:  Guinea Fowl, Ramadan, and Chimsi
    
Part 4:  RELIGION AND MEDICINE
    19:    The Dagbamba Belief in God
    20:    Islam, Muslim Elders, and the Strength of Islam
    21:    The Pilgrimage to Mecca
    22:    Traditional Religion:  Soothsayers and Diviners
    23:    Traditional Religion:  The Priests of the Land
    24:    Traditional Religion:  Gods and Shrines
    25:    Traditional Religion:  Medicine
    26:    Drummers' Medicines
    27:    Diseases and Medicine
    28:    Madness

Volume III:  IN OUR LIVING

Part 1:  ECONOMIC LIFE
    1:    Farming in Dagbon
    2:    How Dagbamba Sow Their Farms
    3:    The Work of Guinea Corn
    4:    Rice Farming
    5:    Groundnuts, Shea Butter, Kpalgu, and Animals
    6:    Markets in Dagbon
    7:    Modern Types of Work and Problems of Economic Development

Part 2:  FAMILY
    8:     Family and Lineage
    9:     How a Family Separates
    10:   What Makes A Family Strong

Part 3:  CHILDREN
    11:   The Benefits of Children    
    12:   How a Child is Given Birth
    13:   Special Problems of Children
    14:   How Children Live When They Are Young
    15:   How Girls Grow Up in the Villages
    16:   How Boys Grow Up in the Villages

Part 4:  HOUSEHOLDING
    17:   How Dagbamba Marry
    18:   The Life of Bachelors
    19:   Why Dagbamba Marry Many Wives
    20:   How Dagbamba Feed Their Families
    21:   How a Husband and Wife Love One Another
    22:   How Women Work and Help One Another
    23:   Sex and Rivalry in a House
    24:   How a Husband and Wife Separate
 
Part 5:  OLD AGE
    25:   Widows
    26:   The Life of Old People

Part 6:  CONCLUSION
    27:   Alhaji Ibrahim’s Reflection on the Work


SUPPORTING MATERIAL

Photographs
Tables and Figures as readers’ aids for data-intensive chapters
    Chapters I-9, I-14, III-8
        Figure 1:  Alhaji Ibrahim's Father's Line   <PDF>
        Figure 2:  Alhaji Ibrahim's Mother's Line   <PDF>
        Figure 3:  Early Tamale Drumming Leaders   <PDF>
    Chapters 1-14 through 1-22
        List of dances  <PDF>
    Yaa-Naas of Dagbon:  Genealogical Chart  <PDF>
    Yaa-Naas of Dagbon:  Chronological Charts  <PDF>
Recordings of music
Index 1:  Persons, titles, towns, tribes in the text
Index 2:  Proverbs, praise-names, dances mentioned in the text
Index 3:  General content and subject index
Map 1:    Ghana:  principal towns and cultural groups cited   PDF / JPEG
Map 2:    Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana:  major towns cited   PDF / JPEG
Map 3:    Dagbon:  towns and villages cited   PDF / JPEG
Outline of chapter contents
Glossary of Dagbani words used in the text
Annotated Bibliography on Dagbon
Uploads and Revisions History


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