A Drummer's Testament
Chapter I-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
Paragraph outline and
Proverbs and sayings
Dagbani words and other search
Contents outline and links by paragraph
Starting the work
1. importance of truth; must talk what Alhaji Ibrahim knows
2. John will need patience
3. the talks are gradual; John is not broadcasting them prematurely
How the idea of the talks has evolved from the friendship of John and Alhaji Ibrahim
4. Alhaji Ibrahim has been reluctant; sacrifices needed; the friendship has reached trust
5. proverb about who will watch a groundnut farm
6. an old person is someone who holds words, has wisdom
7. wisdom requires sense and discretion; Alhaji Ibrahim and John are old men because of knowledge
8. Alhaji Ibrahim wants the talk of drumming to join to the Dagbamba way of living; there should be no mistakes
9. Alhaji Ibrahim will talk what he knows, and he will consult elders to continue; will talk into details with truth
Issues of mistakes and lies in talks about Dagbon
10. types of lies: adding talks beyond the extent of knowledge; talking without full understanding; trusting too much in what one hears
11. the book John showed him had lies; the informant was not knowledgeable
12. someone might lie to maintain his position as an informant or assistance
13. someone might lie by choice, distorting talks that are supposed to be secrets or need sacrifices
14. drummers are not supposed to talk openly about some things; forbidden; also receive blame
15. some drummers will refuse to talk forbidden topics
16. fear goes far into the past; Alhaji Ibrahim feels that wisdom should be shared if it can help people
Resistance to talking about Dagbon and opposition to Alahji Ibrahim’s work with John
17. John will meet refusal, lies, and truth
18. the knowledge in drumming is different from other types of knowledge, like farming; some Dagbamba think it should not be shared to outsiders
19. some drummers and other people have been talking against John learning; jealousy
20. some whites have advised Alhaji Ibrahim to charge John heavily
21. others judge and assume things about Alhaji Ibrahim because of his friendship with John
22. Alhaji Ibrahim doesn’t pay attention; learning drumming should have no charge
23. Alhaji Ibrahim considered only considered the respect John gave; all the elders encouraged him
24. the reasons people have against teaching outsiders are nothing
25. when some gets something good, others will demean it so that the person will discard it; then they will take it
26. others like Ibrahim Mahama have encouraged Alhaji Ibrahim to show John well and make Dagbon known
27. formerly Dagbamba did not like white people
28. times have changed; people do not fear one another as before
Alhaji Ibrahim’s knowledge as his heritage to be passed on with truth
29. in Alhaji Ibrahim’s family, they don’t like liars; modern times has more liars
30. the early white people got mixed up talks; their informants did not talk correctly
31. Alhaji Ibrahim will talk what he learned from his elders; happy to do so because of friendship
32. the person who learns your work is your child; John is always in touch with them
33. Alhaji Ibrahim has taken John as his child in drumming; continue the knowledge
34. Alhaji Ibrahim’s knowledge from his elders and his experience; truth endures
35. people remember truth, not lies
36. lies are like urine, do not go far
Trust and learning
37. truth stands on solid ground; someone; John has a reputation for truth, people trust him
38. some people may not trust this work, but will find it difficult to challenge
39. some people just argue without having knowledge; others can compare John’s work to others
40. people can argue from different understanding, but these talks are reliable; family talks their fathers
41. differences in drumming talks from the extent; some have more details
42. differences in learning can bring arguments, but drummers do not bluff those who are more learned
43. what you hear might be wrong, so you should show the person who showed it to you
44. some who tells truth will not suspect a liar
45. patience helps; the talks will go far, like truth; liars have no patience for truth
46. truth and lies contrasted; truth has strength to build something on
47. liars find difficulties: getting wife, borrowing money, being in a group
Separating a few types of lies that have benefit
48. lying to prevent a quarrel; messenger repairs a talk
49. separate the exceptions of lies that can be good
50. repairing a relationship
51. the reconciliation
52. the lies have repaired the relationship
53. lies to save a marriage; go between a separated couple
54. adding people to help intercede
55. the reconciliation of the married couple
56. the blessings of repairing a marriage
57. lies to prevent a fight between towns
The importance of seeking truth
58. all other lies lead to trouble
59. truth moves everything forward
60. a human being should search for truth; use patience and truth to live with others
How the team should work together
61. to work together, one should not see or hear too much; not be annoyed
62. the team should maintain unity
63. communicate so that no one is disappointed
64. Alhaji Ibrahim wants to do the work
65. John should help Alhaji Ibrahim plan the arrangement of the talks
66. John should keep track of the talks and ask for necessary clarifications
67. John should stay focused on the talks
68. John should record the talks and keep good records
69. John should keep track of the translations for errors
70. John should add his own sense to make the talks nice
71. John should not add to good talks, but the talks should go into details
72. John should remind Alhaji Ibrahim of issues; they should go over the talks to check for mistakes
73. John should ask question for verification so that the talks will not have mistakes
74. John should hold questions and not interrupt too much, be patient to see where the talk is going
75. questions are like junctions and can divert a talk into another direction; difficult to get back on track
76. proverb about chief’s housechild will not struggle to hear Ʒɛm
77. explanation: be patient and the talks will eventually come to answer the questions
78. we have to follow the talks to see where they will go; take time with them
79. we should take the talks step by step
80. transition to the talks of drumming
Proverbs and Sayings <top of page>
It is a child who has patience who eats the
benefit of elderly people.
An old man doesn’t bring out everything that is in his
You can't say all.
You say some and leave some in your stomach.
Blood is in the stomach, but when you are going to
vomit, you vomit white.
If you farm groundnuts and you want somebody to be
watching your groundnut farm, you should get a leper to be watching your
If you farm your groundnuts and finish, you don't send
a leper to shell the groundnuts.
You don't send a leper to shell groundnuts.
Is a white horse an old horse?
It is not someone who has stayed long on earth who is
an old person.
A child who roams much is wiser than the father.
Something that is forbidden does not walk for you to see it; it is only
waiting, and you won't see it unless you do it.
The one who burns his hair smells the scent of the
If there is no fear, then what is darkness?
What you are holding, if it is small, you shouldn't
look down upon it; you should hold it.
You will come to see the skin of a snake, and you will
take it to be a snake, but it is just the skin of a snake and it is not the
Too much eye-opening can spoil a town.
You don't send a blind man to keep birds from your
guinea corn farm.
Someone can be looking at a house but will not
know what is inside the house.
If you befriend a monkey, nothing of yours will remain
on top of a tree.
If you go to a learned person and you don't know
anything, at least you will know the number of housepeople in your house.
If a person is sitting at one place and is caring for
a child, he isn't the only person who cares for the child.
It is the one who takes up your work whom you call
A learned person does not die.
Truth has no end.
When you get up, you should search for truth.
Truth lasts, because a truth man comes to stand in the place of a truth man.
Lies are like a dead thing.
Truth does not die.
Lies are like urine: when you pull out your penis and
you are urinating, at first it goes far, and when it is finishing, it
finishes in front of you.
As for truth, the way it is: how can somebody be
sitting on the ground and fall down?
If a truth man tells lies, people will take it to be truth.
When people like you in a place, if you do something bad, they will say it’s
When you are a person and you get up, you should search for truth.
Wisdom is more than what one person can hold; one
person cannot hold all wisdom. (Tolon-Naa Yakubu)
If a liar tells a truth person a lie, the truth person
will take it to be true.
Only a bad person can know a bad person.
Truth gives birth.
It is someone who has patience who can hear the truth, and it is someone who
has patience who will say the truth.
If you sow a bad thing, that is what you will come to
If you sow good, that is what you are going to reap.
You cannot bring saliva from your mouth to build a
The place where water is good will gather
water-drinkers. (Naa Mahamadu)
A liar has no town.
Everything changes, but character does not change.
Character is not a stranger.
If you are going to send somebody, send somebody
who has sense, not somebody who can walk fast.
The lies you will tell and repair the family, or
relationship, they are not bad lies.
The tongue and the teeth sometimes quarrel. They stay
together and they quarrel.
If cows are standing together in the bush, a lion
won't come near them.
If you see a house, and the house is filled with
people, if you go there, it might be that the householder is sitting with
When a Frafra man sees a monkey and tells his dog to
chase it, it's all the same.
If you start a work today, then getting to tomorrow
you will know what is inside the work.
As for slippery soup, you don't eat it when the soup
is far away from you.
In these modern times, if a modern rabbit gets up, it
is a modern dog that will catch it.
A messenger is somebody who has patience and sense; it
is not somebody who can walk or somebody who is fast.
Dagbamba say you shouldn't give someone a vagina and
show him how to sex it.
If you have many yams and there is one bad yam among
them, that one yam can spoil all the others.
God should let an old person live long, and anywhere
the old person is, there should be many children standing by his waist.
What an elder person has sat down and seen, if a child
gets up, he cannot see it.
A chief's housechild does not struggle to see the
dance of Ʒɛm.
Something that is coming is not something that is
When you get something that is sweet, you shouldn't
eat all of it in one day.
Key words for ASCII searches
Naa Abudu Setan' Kugli (Naa Abudu Setaŋ Kuɣli)
Chiefs and elders
Drummers and drum chiefs
Mangulana (Alhaji Adam Alhassan)
Nanton Lun-Naa (Iddrisu)
Sheni (Fuseini Alhassan, Shembila)
Samban' lunga (Samban' luŋa)
Names and people
Alhaji Shahadu (Issa)
Kissmal (Ibrahim Hussein)
Towns and places