A Drummer's Testament
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A DRUMMER’S TESTAMENT:  Dagbamba Society and Culture in the Twentieth Century
Detailed Chapter and Contents Outline


Guide to Pronunciation
Table of Contents and Expanded Table of Contents


A) capsule geography and demography; descriptions of Tamale and Accra; descriptions of urban and rural landscapes; the situation of traditional societies in modern Ghana
B) Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulai and the genesis of the work; indigenous views of cultural relevance; assessment of the role of ethnography in contemporary anthropology; why the work was done in this manner; the nature of the collaboration; portraits of significant personnel; issues of method and substance; description of interviewing techniques and translation methods
C) advice on reading the text:  the context and pacing of evening discussions in a village; style and idioms; the size of the text; relationship of drumming to the presentation of information



Chapter 1:  The Benefits of Friendship and Why We Should Do the Work as a Group 
A story to stand for the work; Dagbamba folk stories and proverbs on friendship and knowledge; the importance of good character

Chapter 2:  The Dagbamba Way of Living in the Villages and in the Towns
The attitude of modern children toward their tradition; how traditional values are taught in the villages; the character of villagers compared to town people

Chapter 3:  The Sense of Dagbamba and Their Living in the Olden Days
The importance of knowing how one’s parents and grandparents lived; recollections of precolonial and colonial life; types of work and the sense of Dagbamba

Chapter 4:  Respect and the Dagbamba Way of Living Together
Respect and how Dagbamba show respect on the part of:  those who live in the same area, their families, their in-laws; examples:  patience, temperance, not “showing oneself,” gathering and eating with others, respect for strangers

Chapter 5:  The Way of a Stranger and How a Stranger Should Live in Dagbon
How Dagbamba behave toward strangerrs; being a stranger and traveling; the benefits of traveling; bad things that can happen to strangers; how a stranger should behave with the people

Chapter 6:  The Role of Greetings in Festivals and Daily Life
Greetings and festivals; the importance of greetings; how Dagbamba greet; greetings and respect; greetings to different types of people:  chiefs, rich people, maalams; gifts and gift-giving; messengers and greeting; greetings in the household; greetings to in-laws; greetings during the festival months; how Dagbamba greet their friends in different villages; how Dagbamba receive one another in greetings

Chapter 7:  How Dagbamba Send Messengers 

How Dagbamba send messengers to greet others; types of people who are messengers; how a messenger uses sense; the research team as messengers

Chapter 8:  The Debt of the Stomach 
Problems of working together as a team; practical problems of poverty and their relationship to commitment to long-term collaborative projects; issues of sharing potential benefits and maintaining continuity of the team

Chapter 9:  Patience, Truth, and How We Should Do the Talks 
The nature of long talks; different types of lies; how to listen to the talks; patience and asking questions; instructions to John about “repairing” the talks


Chapter 10:  The Work of Drumming
Alhaji Ibrahim’s family background and where he learned drumming; his respect as a drummer; an example of Baakobli and market-drumming:  how Alhaji suffered and how he learned patience; the need to learn work well; learning both guŋgɔŋ and luŋa; the difference between those who have traveled to the South and those who only know Dagbon

Chapter 11:  The Respect of Drumming and How Drumming Started in Dagbon 
Drummers and chiefs; why chiefs need drummers; the family relationship of chiefs and commoners; the origin of drumming:  Bizuŋ as the son of Naa Nyaɣsi; origins of Namo-Naa; original drumming of the land-priests in Dagbon:  Ʒɛm and Bandamda; the eldership of the guŋgɔŋ and yua over the luŋa; the seniority of the luŋa; the respect of drummers and chiefs

Chapter 12:  Drummers and the Other Musicians of Dagbon
The strength of drummers with chiefs; Punyiɣsili:  waking the chief; names people call drummers; drummers as women; begging the chief; if Namo-Naa and Yaa-Naa quarrel; the seniority of drummers to other musicians:  the origins of Akarima and the timpana; dalgu; names in Dagbon; the origins of fiddles (goonji), solo string instruments (mɔɣlo and jɛnjili)

Chapter 13:  How We Make Our Drums and Guŋgɔŋs
Craft aspects of drumming; how drums are carved; ritual obligations of drum-makers; how drums are sewn; types of skins used; varying quality of drums and skins; how drum-sticks are made; how guŋgɔŋs are made and sewn

Chapter 14:  How a Drum Is Beaten 
Technique and style; innovation and tradition; the right wrist and quickness; the right hand and the left hand in beating; talking on a drum and using the left hand; beating coolly and beating with strength; changing styles and steadiness; examples


Chapter 15:  Proverbs, Praise-names and Dances
Why Dagbamba like proverbs; what proverbs add to living; how to understand proverbs; how people use proverbs as names; proverbial names and “praising”; introduction to the family; how drummers beat praise-names on their drums; where and how drumers use praise-names; the role of praising at community gathering; introduction to praise-names and dance beats

Chapter 16:  Praise-Name Dances and the Benefits of Music
The origins of dances in chieftaincy and the drum history; examples of dances based on praise-names of former chiefs; overview:  how music helps in weddings, funerals, namings, festivals; happiness and music; happiness and dancing; music as something to give to the children

Chapter 17:  How a Person Should Dance
The relationship of dancing and drumming; differences in styles of dancing; differences between men’s and women’s dancing; how people learn dancing; aesthetics of good dancing

Chapter 18:  Dances That are Danced in Groups
Baamaaya; Jɛra; Yori; Bila; Nyindɔɣu and Dimbu; dances of the craft-guilds

Chapter 19:  Takai and Tɔra
The Takai and Tɔra dances; their importance in community events

Chapter 20:  Funerals
Funerals as an example of the role of music in community events; the elder of the funeral house; how a dead body is bathed and buried; the stages of a funeral:  three days, seven days, shaving the funeral children, “showing the thing,” sharing property; why Dagbamba like funerals; the importance of funerals; music and funerals

Chapter 21:  Muslims’ and Chiefs’ Funerals
How Muslims are buried; stages of a Muslim funeral; how chiefs die; how chiefs are buried; the installation of the Regent; chiefs funerals and the work of drummers; example:  Savelugu; the Gbɔŋlana and the Pakpɔŋ; seating the Gbɔŋlana; the Kambonsi; M'Ba Naa and showing the riches; selection of a new chief


Chapter 22:  How Children are Trained in Drumming and Singing
Types of toy drums for children; first proverbs; how a child is taught to sing; discipline; children who are “born” with the drum; a child who was trained by dwarves; learning the chiefs; learning to sing; performing; how young drummers respect their teachers; obligations to teachers; teaching and learning

Chapter 23:  Traveling and Learning the Dances of Other Tribes
Why Dagbamba learn other tribes’ drumming; the difficulty of learning the Dagbani language; the drumming styles and dancing of:  Mossis, Kotokolis and Hausas (Jɛbo, Gaabitɛ Zamanduniya, Madadaazi, Adamboli), Bassaris and Chembas and Chilinsis, Dandawas, Wangaras, Gurumas, Konkombas, Frafras, Ashantis, Yorubas; differences in the drummers from different towns

Chapter 24:  Drum Chieftaincies
Drum chiefs and chieftaincy hierarchies; the different drum chieftaincies of the towns; how a drummer gets chieftaincy; how a chief drummer is buried

Chapter 25:  How Drummers Share Money
How drummers earn money at gatherings; example of Namo-Naa and his messengers; sharing money to elders; “covering the anus of Bizuŋ”; how Alhaji Ibrahim divides drummers into groups and shares money; why drummers share money to old people and children; what drumming doesn’t want; the need for “one mouth”



Chapter 1:  The Forbidden Talks of Drumming
Scope of the historical chapters from origins through Samban' luŋa; different types of historical figures; taboos and sacrifices; the importance of the Samban' luŋa; fears of drummers regarding early history; Harold Blair (Yakubuʒee) and other previous researchers in Dagbon

Chapter 2:  How Drummers Search for the Old Talks
How to acquire historical erudition; provenance of information and unreliable information; tactics of approach; greetings and sacrifices; sources for the work

Chapter 3:  Old Talks:  The Origins of Dagbon
The Dagbamba invasion of Ghana, the conquest of the indigenous peoples:  Nimbu, Ʒipopora, Kumtili, Naa Gbewaa, Naa Ʒirli

Chapter 4:  Naa Shitɔbu and Naa Nyaɣsi:  The Founding of Dagbon
The usurpation of the priests:  Naa Shitɔbu, Naa Nyaɣsi; kin relationships to Mamprusi, Mossi, Nanumba, Talensi, Frafra, Dagara, Wala, Kusasi, Tampolensi, Zantansi, Kantonsi; inter-tribal relations with Hausa, Gonja, Ashanti, Bassari, Chemba, Kotokoli, Dandawa, Zambarima, Guruma, Kasena, Builsa, Sissala

Chapter 5:  The Yaa-Naa and the Elders of Yendi
The paramount chief:  the Yaa-Naa of Yendi; how a Yaa-Naa dies and is buried; selection of a new Yaa-Naa; list of Yaa-Naas; types of elders; the work of elders; intermediaries for chiefs; Yendi area elders; origins of main elderships; castration of elders; ranking of elders; Kuɣa-Naa; M’ba Duɣu; the elder chieftaincies:  Gushe-Naa, Tolon-Naa, Gukpe-Naa, Kumbun-Naa; the Kambonsi; the women chiefs

Chapter 6:  The Organization of Chieftaincy
The Yaa-Naa and the thirteen divisional chiefs; types of divisional chieftaincy; organization of the chieftaincy hierarchy; how the hierarchy shifts

Chapter 7:  How Princes Get Chieftaincy and Go to Hold a Town
The life of princes; relationship of the first-born son to the second-born son; how the hierarchy shifts to accomodate princes; conflict between princes and junior fathers; the chief’s elders:  Kamo-Naa, Wulana, Lun-Naa, Maagaaʒia, etc.; how a new chief lives with his elders and townspeople; how the townspeople and elders greet the chief on Mondays and Fridays

Chapter 8:  How Chiefs Judge Cases
The chief’s court in pre-colonial times; the naazoonima (chief’s friends); the role of the elders in cases; types of crime and the punishments; selling a bad person; witches and witchcraft cases; modern types of crime; comparison of chief’s courts and civil courts

Part 2:  HISTORY

Chapter 9:  The Drum History (Samban’ luŋa)
The social context of the drum history performance at the chief’s house; the format of the drum history; the chief’s responsibility for taboos and sacrifices; the nature of history; Dagbamba historiography; objectivity and divergent traditions in the Samban’ luŋa

Chapter 10:  The First Gonja War:  Naa Dariʒɛɣu and Naa Luro
Example of the Samban’ luŋa:  Gonja wars; the origins of the first war, the death of Naa Dariʒɛɣu; Naa Luro’s abuse; Naa Luro at Diari:  the blacksmiths and the bridge; Naa Luro’s victory over Kaluɣsi Dajia; Pakpɔŋ Kachaɣu and Lunlana Lunʒɛɣu:  the origins of Baŋgumaŋa; the meaning and dancing of Baŋgumaŋa

Chapter 11:  Naa Zanjina and the Coming of Islam
The contributions of Naa Zanjina to Dagbamba custom; Naa Zanjina’s youth and conversion to Islam; how Naa Zanjina got chieftaincy and his influence on chieftaincy custom; Naa Zanjina as the “light” of Dagbon

Chapter 12:  The Second Gonja War:  Naa Zanjina and Naa Siɣli
Continuation of the wars; Kumpatia and the conquest of western Dagbon; the death of Naa Zanjina and how Naa Siɣli obtained chieftaincy; the Dagbamba war campaign; the defeat of Kumpatia

Chapter 13:  The Cola and Slave Trades:  Naa Garba and Naa Ziblim
Dagbamba-Ashanti relations; the uses of cola; the cola and shea butter trade; Naa Garba and the Ashanti war; the capture and ransoming of Naa Garba; the slave trade in Dagbon; origin of the Kambonsi (soldiers); Ashanti influences under Naa Ziblim Bandamba

Chapter 14:  The Pre-Colonial Era:  Naa Andani and Naa Alhassan
Naa Yakubu and civil war; Naa Abdulai and the Bassari war; Naa Andani:  the German conquest and victory at Adibo; Tugulana Iddi, Karaga-Naa Bukari and civil war; Naa Alhassan:  the coming of the British; colonial rule under the British

Chapter 15:  Modern History and the Chieftaincy Crisis
The unification of Dagbon under the British; the origins and escalation of the chieftaincy dispute under Naa Mahama Kpɛma and Naa Mahama Bila; Mionlana Andani and Naa Abilabila; Kwame Nkrumah and the Tolon-Naa; the role of educated Dagbamba in the crisis; the usurpation of Naa Muhammadu; possibilities for settlement


Chapter 16:  Festivals:  The Fire Festival
The traditional calendar; Buɣim (Fire) Festival; the origins of the Fire Festival; historiographic resolution of pagans and Muslims aspects of the Fire Festival; Dambabilaa

Chapter 17:  Festivals:  The Damba Festival
Origins of the Damba festival from Naa·Zanjina; the Somo Damba; the Chiefs’ Damba; how villagers celebrate the Damba Festival; the Damba Biɛlkulsi; Namo-Naa’s role in the Damba Festival

Chapter 18:  Festivals:  Kpini, Ramadan, and Chimsi
The origins and celebration of the Kpini (Guinea Fowl) Festival; Ramadan/Konyuri Chuɣu (Mouth-tying month); why Dagbamba fast; difficulties and techniques of fasting; drumming during Ramadan:  Asem and Bandamda at the chief’s house; the 26th day of the fast; the Iddi (Praying) Festival, the Samban’ luŋa in the Iddi Festival; the respect of drumming during the Ramadan; example:  a trip to Akosombo and how the drummers were respected; Chimsi (Sacrificing) Festival


Section 1: ISLAM

Chapter 19:   The Dagbamba Belief in God
Why Dagbamba believe in God; arguments for the existence of God; God’s greatness; how Dagbamba remember God in their daily living

Chapter 20:   Islam, Muslim Elders and the Strength of Islam
Historical:  Naa Zanjina and the introduction of Islam; Naa Bimbiɛɣu and Savelugu-Naa Poosamli; cultural:  the benefits of Islam; obligations of faith; prayer; the role of maalams; types of Muslims; origins of Muslim elders of Dagbon; classification of Muslim elders by tribal origins:  Mossis, Hausas, Wangaras; areas of Muslim concentration in Dagbon; Christianity and the work of Christian missions in the villages

Chapter 22:   The Pilgrimage to Mecaa
Dangers and benefits of the Hajj; preparations; Hajj agents; foreign exchange problems; arrival at Jidda; arrival at Mecca; Arafat; Mina; Mudzalifa; Medina; Alhaji Ibrahim’s piety and his feelings of pity during the Hajj; return from Mecca; greetings


Chapter 22:   Traditional Religion:  Soothsayers and Diviners
The inheritance of the soothsayers’ bag; testing of soothsayers; the work of soothsaying; other types of diviners; the Jinwara cult; Jinwarba divination

Chapter 23:   Traditional Religion:  The Priests of the Earth
Local gods and shrines; comparison of tindanas and chiefs; relations of tindanas and chiefs:  drum history story of Mionlana Mahami and Tindaan’ Ʒee; chiefs who are tindanas; how tindanas inherit their chieftaincies; women tindanas; the Dapkɛmas; tindanas and chiefs of Tamale

Chapter 24:   Traditional Religion:  Gods and Shrines
Yabyili, Naawuni, Pong Tamale, Chema, Jaagbo, Lansah, etc.

Chapter 25:   Medicine
How medicine works; types of medicine:  liliga, vua, kabrɛ, tahiŋga, etc.; maalams’ medicines

Chapter 26:   Drummer’s Medicines
Drummers and medicine:  gandu, zambaŋa, teeli; jealousy among drummers; example of use of kabrɛ at drum history; the Bukpahinima, an anti-witch cult

Chapter 27:  Diseases and Medicine
Major health problems of Dagbon; major diseases and how they are treated; other problems:  guinea worms and parasites; Dagbamba ideas about medicine and health problems

Chapter 28:  Madness
Types of madness; treatment of madness; madness and craft-guilds



Chapter 1:  Farming in Dagbon
The origins of farming in Dagbon; collective labor (market-day farming); farming and the family; the sweetness of farming work

Chapter 2:  How Dagbamba Farm Yams
How Dagbamba farm yams; other crops:  corn, sorghum, millet beans; crop rotation and agricultural technology; farming rituals and sacrifices; uses of yams

Chapter 3:  The Work of Guinea Corn
Staple foods:  uses of sorghum, millet, corn, beans; pito (local beer):  ritual use and Dagbamba drinking habits

Chapter 4:  Rice Farming
Rice:  origins of rice farming; uses of rice; problems of intensive agriculture; credit facilities and debt patterns; emergent stratification patterns; wage labor in the villages

Chapter 5:  Groundnuts, Shea Butter, and Kpalgu
How Dagbamba farm groundnuts; shea butter and kpalgu (local seasoning):  preparation and uses

Chapter 6:  Markets
The traditional market system; types of markets; festival markets; the contemporary market system

Chapter 7:  Modern Types of Work and Problems of Economic Development
Modern trends in work patterns; the Dagbamba resistance to education and “white man’s work” (clerical, soldiering, transport, etc.); guide to development of the region; water and dam maintenance; agriculture, extensive and intensive; infrastructure:  sources of local labor, sources of local decision-making; bullock farming and group farming; health; potential local credit facilities

Part 2:  FAMILY

Chapter 8:  Family and Lineage
The Dagbamba extended family system; classificatory structures; sharing children in the family; why families are important

Chapter 9:  How a Family Separates
Origins of family; benefits of the extended family; how families spoil through marriage and inter-tribal mingling

Chapter 10:  What Makes A Family Strong
Funerals and family cohesion; property and inheritance; lineage guilds and family cohesion


Chapter 11:  The Benefits of Many Children
Why Dagbamba value children; role of children in the family; Dagbamba resistance to family planning

Chapter 12:  How a Child is Given Birth
How a child is given birth; pregnancy and mid-wifery; bathing a newborn child; naming a child; the suuna ceremony; the child in the mother’s family house; how a child grows in infancy

Chapter 13:  Special Types of Children
Difficulties of children; twins; children and bad spirits

Chapter 14:  How Children Are Raised
How children live with their parents; friends and peer groups; games and dances of children; how children are trained; formal education:  Arabic and English schools; vocational training

Chapter 15:  How Girls Grow Up in the Villages
Girls’ work in the villages:  grinding, sheanuts, harvesting; household training; festival markets; early courtship patterns

Chapter 16:  How Boys Grow Up in the Villages
Boys’ work in the villages:  farming, gathering food for domestic animals; festival markets:  early social patterns and courtship


Chapter 17:  How Dagbamba Marry
Ways of getting a wife; the age at which Dagbamba marry; responsibilities toward in-laws; how traditional Dagbamba marry; how Muslims marry; how chiefs marry; the life of chief’s wives

Chapter 18:  Bachelors
Problems of being a bachelor; why Dagbamba don’t respect bachelors; how bachelors live; women who don’t have husbands

Chapter 19:  Why Dagbamba Marry Many Wives
Why Dagbamba marry many wives; the hierarchy of wives; how the chiefs live with their wives

Chapter 20:  Home Economics
How Dagbamba householders feed their wives and children; types of commoners; rotation of cooking among the wives; financial contributions of husband and wives

Chapter 21:  Marriage and Love
What a husband does for his wife; what a wife does for her husband

Chapter 22:  The Life of Women
Types of work women do in the house; the character of Dagbamba women; how women help each other

Chapter 23:  Sex and Jealousy in the Polygamous Household
Sexual patterns in the household; jealousy among wives; the use of medicine against each other; how a husband should live with wives who quarrel

Chapter 24:  Divorce
How Dagbamba divorce; causes of divorce; examples of three divorces

Part 5:  OLD AGE

Chapter 25:  Widows
Chiefs’ widows:  public bathing and beating; taboos of widows; customs regarding the remarriage of widows

Chapter 26:  The Life of Old People
Old age and respect; status of old people; responsibilities of old age; the family head; how old people live; types of old age; lives of three old people compared and contrasted


Chapter 27:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s Reflection on the Work
The history of our relationship; problems of the work; why he did the work; how he feels about it; final instructions to John


MAP 1:    Ghana:  principal towns and tribes cited
MAP 2:    Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana:  major towns cited
MAP 3:    Dagbon:  all towns and villages cited

Within the text:
TABLES AND FIGURES as readers’ aids for data-intensive chapters
RECORDINGS of selected drumming and music to accompany the text

End matter:
GLOSSARY of Dagbani words used in the text
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