A Drummer's Testament
drummers
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Chapter I-8:  The Debt of the Stomach   <PDF file>

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

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


Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Introduction:  three thing to pray for

1.    good health is more than wealth; the foundation of everything; householder needs health
2.    need health to travel
3.    first prayer:  to do the work, pray for health
4.    death is second:  need to pray for life
5.    third prayer is protection from Satan, or gossiping

Protecting the friendships in the team from gossip

6.    John should stand in front to protect the group from gossiping and those who would spoil the group
7.    Alhaji Ibrahim classifies the relationships within the team:  Kissmal (the duiker), Ben, Mustapha (the mouth)
8.    the team should encourage each other’s friendship, greeting one another and not talking about the others
9.    how a bad person can tell lies and separate the friends
10.    holding truth will keep everyone cool; the group is good; Alhaji Ibrahim like a plant and the others are branches

Questions about the benefits of the work

11.    this topic has a twisted way; story of how mouth is sick, and the parts of the body refuse to treat it, except stomach
12.    Alhaji Ibrahim the mouth, and John and the others are the stomach
13.    John’s reasons for coming to Ghana and Dagbon, and whether he has benefited
14.    everyone does work to get some benefit, or what he wants
15.    some people in Dagbon blame Alhaji Ibrahim for working with John; others advise him to charge John heavily; people believe that John is doing important work
16.    example of trader who talked to Alhaji Ibrahim about John
17.    even people inAlhaji Ibrahim’s house criticize him for working with John, but Alhaji Ibrahim values the friendship with John

Friendship and money

18.    Dagbamba don’t value money over friendship; some people refuse to let their daughters marry rich person
19.    but money is important; one needs money for everything; can even mean life if a person is sick and needs treatment
20.    money has good and bad influence; the friendship between Alhaji Ibrahim and John has not been spoiled by money matters
21.    a person uses money to get what he wants
22.    Dagbamba value friendship over money; should do work well without thinking about money, and will benefit

Patience and the benefits of one’s work

23.    one shouldn’t be impatient for the benefit; example of stirring porridge water
24.    the benefit of good work may extend to others even if John and Alhaji Ibrahim are dead
25.    when doing work one should not look for quick benefits, only pray for benefit; drumming like that:  work done with truth will last
26.    benefit can be in the form of a good name; one should start work without big ideas

Money and the work of custom

27.    we don’t know how we will benefit from this work; if it becomes a book, only some people will be interested; it’s not for the market
28.    work about custom is not for selling, but everywhere people look for it; John should not worry about the benefits of the work
29.    Alhaji Ibrahim is happy with the work; John can swear on Alhaji Ibrahim that the work passed from him; John should not worry
30.    people trying to spoil the friendship between Alhaji Ibrahim and John will talk about money

Friendship and debt

31.    friendship is like a debt that cannot be paid; the name of Savelugu-Naa Puusamli
32.    we should pray for protection against selfishness
33.    one should not ask too much from a friend; one can only give to one’s extent
34.    you should only do for your friend what you have the means to do
35.    friendship doesn’t have accounting; example of John breaking a drum Alhaji Ibrahim lent him
36.    the exception is medicine; medicine requires gift or payment even from friends or relatives
37.    Alhaji Ibrahim is not charging John; Alhaji Ibrahim’s name:  Money finishes, but wisdom does not finish.
38.    to stay in friendship, one should not try to do what the friend wants; one should not do what the friend doesn’t want

The friendship between Alhaji Ibrahim and John

39.    the friendship within the team has reached true trust
40.    many people are happy with the friendship and are praying for John
41.    John has come alone, but America is getting respect; John should be taking the good name of Dagbon to America

Giving gifts

42.    Ghana is in difficulties; when giving, one should try to gather something substantial and give it at once, not bit by bit
43.    Catholic fathers in Africa are rumored to leave large gifts in the bush
44.    giving gifts:  it is good to give something that people can see, something to stand for the friendship
45.    the person who gives gifts is someone who can afford to give   
46.    one who gives gifts does it for himself; the benefit of a gift extends; example:  praying mat or ablution kettle
47.    gifts are more than alms; how they extend and add to friendship
48.    giving shows that a person has got something before deciding to give; giving is good for the one who gives, the one who received, and to God
49.    proverbs about this talk; it relates to Dagbamba way of living and to the way of drumming


Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Health is more important than wealth.

No one will die somewhere and go to another place to live again. 

If you are eating, you don't have to eat at one place.

"They have said":  that breaks towns. 

A person should not think everybody will like him. 

If a plant doesn't grow, it will not spread its branches. 

The mouth will not get something and refuse the stomach. 

You are eating in your house, and I am also eating in my house. 

People are asking of you.

Money finishes, but knowledge doesn't finish. 
Money finishes, but wisdom does not finish.

Money finishes, but friendship does not finish. 

If you die, they don't bury you with money.  It is people who will bury you. 

They will not abuse you and cut leaves to put on top. 

Money can be life.

Money roams.

Money gets friends and gets enemies.

What you want, that finishes your wealth.


The one you love is the one you spend your wealth on. 

If they give you porridge water to drink, you don't have to take your finger to stir it. 

The one who speaks the truth doesn't sleep with hunger.

If you are going to begin something, you start it by looking down upon yourself. 

Every learning has got its father. 


You should never think of releasing something from your hand to fall on the ground. 

Friendship brings debt.

The debt that is inside the stomach, you can't pay it. 

Friendship or brotherhood does not collect medicine for free.

What an old person has sat down and seen, if a child gets up, the child cannot see it.

Wisdom is more than money.  If you have money and you don't have wisdom, the money will run away and leave you. 

If you are two people and you come together, if you cannot do all that your friend wants, then at least you should know what the other fellow does not want. 

If a man should grow a tail, his wife will know of it; and if the wife also grows a tail, the husband will know it. 

Someone who has patience will hear the voice of a bedbug. 

If someone is riding on an elephant, his legs won't touch the ground. 

A gift:  it is good if it is something that people can see, and it will stand for the friendship.

The gift has satisfied the house before it came outside.

When you give a gift, you haven’t done it for only the one you give; you have done it for yourself.

Someone who gives gifts is someone who has sense. 

Don’t give a gift and then be watching the person you gave the gift to be thanking you very well. 

A gift is more than alms.

A gift extends.

As for any animal that flies, if it doesn't respect its wings, or if it demeans its wings, then children will roast it and eat. 

Don't think of releasing something that is in your hands. 

It's not a person whose hair is gray who is the elder. 

Eldership is in the heart. 

Lies are sweet; truth is like a thorn.


Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
Savelugu-Naa Puusamli

Names and people
Alhaji Ibrahim
Ben (Sunkari)
John Chernoff
Kissmal (Ibrahim Hussein)
Mohammed (Mohadien James)
Mustapha (Muhammad)

Towns and places
Accra
Dagbon
Kumasi
Savelugu

Cultural groups
Ashanti
Dagbamba
Dagbana
Ga

Miscellaneous terms
Alhaji
bambua
bugli  (buɣli)
cedis
Dagbani
drumhead
duiker
Ganli
housepeople
kali
kooshe
nogu  (ŋɔɣu)
pesewa
suhu pieni  (suhu piɛni)
zugu sung  (zuɣu suŋ)