A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter I-6:  Greetings and Respect in Dagbon  <PDF file>

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

Paragraph outline and links
Proverbs and sayings
Dagbani words and other search terms
Supplementary material

squatting to greet an elder

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Importance of greetings in Dagbon

1.  talk of greetings fits into many different talks
2.  greetings express good intentions and respect

Morning greetings in the house and neighborhood

3.  morning greetings between husbands and wives
4.  morning greetings to mother and wives
5.  wives greet one another and elders; kneel to greet senior person; give respect
6.  children in their own houses will come and greet their parents
7.  lengthy greetings with senior people in the area:  are we sleeping?
8.  if sickness or a problem, the area people will also come and greet; send messengers if serious

Festival day greetings

9.  happiness and good wishes; people go around and greet
10.  send children to greet people in other towns; greet people you don’t usually greet
11.  giving gifts on festival day
12.  eating better food and being satisfied also part of the festival day
13.  send children to greet at all your in-laws’ houses, with gifts
14.  send children because the householder should remain to look after the house

Eldership and greetings

15.  later, those you have greeted will also return greetings to you
16.  greeting example:  “leave you in front”; Alhaji Ibrahim’s eldership from sharing drumming money
17.  send the messenger back with a gift
18.  as people go to live in different towns, send greetings to their elders in other towns

Greetings to friends

19.  take a gift that the friend likes; the whole house will respond
20.  the friend will take you to greet the people in his town; old people will bless the friendship
21.  the people in your friend’s house will be happy with your gifts
22.  the townspeople you greeted will return the greetings with food
23.  you will get gifts when you leave for home; greetings show that one lives with people
24.  good to take someone along when going to greet; will see your respect
25.  greetings are friendship; be careful about greeting someone who cannot receive you well
26.  should greet the person who greets you; he will receive you well
27.  how Alhaji Ibrahim gives and receives gifts like that when visits friends in other towns
28.  good to visit and greet so that people meet and see the friendship

Greetings and respect

29.  greetings show character; someone who does not greet is seen as selfish
30.  should even greet people who do not greet you
31.  watch greetings and see people; different intentions
32.  greetings show respect; different greetings to chiefs, elders, money person

Greetings to money person

33.  money man and the chief greet and respect one another
34.  poor person who greets a money man shows happiness
35.  people greet the money person because of his money
36.  sometimes money person has more respect from friends than from family; shows how he treat them

Greetings to an old person

37.  everybody respects an old person because of the blessing of long life
38.  can greet any old person because of old age; squat when greetings
39.  respect an old person you do not know; gifts

Greetings to maalams

40.  every kinds of person respects maalams and Liman
41.  typical Dagbamba who are not Muslims greet Liman for medicine and prayers for farming
42.  money person also greets Liman for prayers and help
43.  Kamo-Naa also greets Liman for medicine and talismans
44.  the chiefs respects the Limam; helps the town to be cool

Respect to chief of drummers

45.  Namo-Naa or Lun-Naa; commoners, princes, and chiefs all need drummers


46.  people get respect because of what people want; different from greetings to family, friends, and festival greetings

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Greetings are white heart.

Greetings are:  you give trust to your friend.

Greetings are:  you give respect to your friend.

If somebody gets pain and people also see his fault, it’s not sweet.

The greeting of the festival day is the end or the last of all the greetings, because inside it, you greet one another and you beg God for blessings for one another.

The festival day stands that everyone should do good to one another.

A householder does not roam on the festival day.

If a child visits you, you must also visit the child.

God should let you come to wash your hands upon us.

It is good when you go to greet a friend, and you know of women.

Inside friendship is greeting.

When you have a friend, it is good he knows your house and you also know his house.

Come and greet me is better than I will be talking about you.

To be greeting people is like giving a gift.  When you give a gift, your hand will stretch and be open.  greetings do not end.

If your friend farts on you, and you say you will also fart on him, if you don’t take time, you will shit on yourself.

“How is the market?” is not friendship.

Money people take their friends to show themselves to others; they don’t use their family.

If a money person doesn’t want to help people, we say that his money is not money; it is useless.

You should give a gift inside your house before you give outside.

In Dagbon here, we call an old man “everybody’s old man.”

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Titled persons and elders

Alhassan (Ibrahim)
Yakubu (Ibrahim)

Towns and places

Cultural groups

Miscellaneous terms
gbogino   gbɔɣino
guinea corn
Holy Qu’ran
maalam, maalams