A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter I-10:  The Work of Drumming  <PDF file>

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

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

Supplementary material 

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>


Alhaji Mumuni (with Alhaji Ibrahim's son Osmanu)
Alhaji Adam Alhassan (Mangulana)
Fusheni (Sheni) Alhassan
Fusheni Alhassan (Jɛblin)
Mohamadu Fusheni

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Alhaji Ibrahim's family lines in drumming

1.    introduction to Alhaji Ibrahim's life as a drummer
2.    drumming is from family; Alhaji Ibrahim's drumming from both father (drummer) and father's mother (Palo-Naa line)
3.    Alhaji Ibrahim's father's mother's line:  Bizuŋ through Palo-Naa Dariʒɛɣu
4.    Palo moved from Namɔɣu to Savelugu under Savelugu-Naa Mahami, son of Naa Garba
5.    Palo-Naas:  Dariʒɛɣu, Kosaɣim, Ziŋnaa, Wumbie, Kpɛmahim
6.    story of Palo-Naa Wumbie and Palo-Naa Kpɛmahim
7.    the line of Palo-Naa Wumbie
8.    Alhaji Ibrahim's father's mother's line from Palo-Naa Wumbie
9.    Alhaji Ibrahim's father's father's line from Naa Luro through Boggolana Mahama to Abdulai

Alhaji Ibrahim’s parents

10.    how Alhaji Ibrahim's father Abdulai was caught to become a drummer
11.    Abdulai follows Bukari Kantampara to Voggo and remains there
12.    Alhaji Ibrahim's mother Kaasuwa's line from Naa Luro to her father Sulemana through the chieftaincies of Zoggo, Singa, and Dalun
13.    Alhaji Ibrahim's mother's mother's link to blacksmiths
14.    how family lines mix
15.    how Abdulai got Alhaji Ibrahim's mother as a wife
16.    Sulemana follows Savelugu-Naa Mahami to war; gunpowder in a mortar: "worms die together"

Alhaji Ibrahim’s youth

17.    the children of Abdulai and Kaasuwa; four survived
18.    all are drummers; drumming catches one of Alhaji Ibrahim sister's children
19.    Alhaji Ibrahim grows up in Voggo, helps Alhaji Mumuni look after Abdulai
20.    after Abdulai dies, Alhaji Ibrahim goes to Nanton to live with Nanton Lun-Naa Iddrisu
20.    Alhaji Mumuni in Voggo, left for the South when British conscripted soldiers for World War II; Lun-Zoo-Naa Abukari in Abdulai's house
21.    Abdul-Rahaman leaves Voggo and does not learn drumming well
22.    drummers who do not learn drumming well; "a dry fish cannot be bent"
23.    Alhaji Mumuni's high standard in drumming; his experience in the South
24.    Alhaji Mumuni in Voggo and Savelugu, refused five drumming chieftaincies
25.    Alhaji Ibrahim's early lessons from Nanton Lun-Naa Iddrissu
26.    drumming talks have difference; some are not taught

Senior drummers and drumming in Tamale

27.    Alhaji Ibrahim moves to Tamale and stays with Alhassan Lumbila, Mangulana, and Sheni; Mangulana's name
28.    the friendship between Alhaji Mumuni and Alhaji Adam Mangulana
29.    the friendship between Alhaji Mumuni and Sheni
30.    Alhassan Lumbila, Mangulana, and Sheni's line from Tolon
31.    Alhaji Ibrahim in Tamale:  singing, beating guŋgɔŋ and luŋa
32.    Tamale has many people, more drumming events

Traveling to the South

33.    Alhaji Ibrahim stays in Kintampo; traveling and learning; Gonja and Wangara dances
34.    Alhaji Ibrahim stays in Kumasi; many tribes; learns to beat the dances of Zambarimas, Chembas, Dandawas, Yorubas, Gurumas
35.    drumming for Ashanti women and princes
36.    Alhaji Ibrahim stays in Accra; Mossi dances
37.    Alhaji Ibrahim stays in Takoradi; Wala dances

Patience and learning drumming

38.    Alhaji Ibrahim returns to Tamale; teaching; beating with knowledge
39.    patience and learning wisdom from Nanton Lun-Naa Idrissu and Sheni
40.    Alhaji Ibrahim's reputation for learnedness
41.    in order to learn, make yourself blind and a fool

Alhaji Ibrahim as a young drummer in Tamale; the story of Baakobli

42.    Alhaji Ibrahim's drumming as a young man; following elders to events; guŋgɔŋ and singing; market-day drumming
43.    story of following Baakobli to market
44.    beating praises and beating for horses to dance;
45.    Alhaji Ibrahim is injured by a dancing horse
46.    Baakobli gives gifts and money to Alhaji Ibrahim
47.    Alhaji Ibrahim annoyed about having to share the money; Sheni's advice about patience
48.    Alhaji Ibrahim seeing the benefits of patience
49.    Alhaji Ibrahim's respect and leadership

Differences among Dagbamba drummers; differences between Dagbamba and other drumming

50.    many different types of drumming in Dagbon
51.    differences in knowledge; women drummers' children: "I-don't-want-to-die" drummers
52.    different standards of learnedness in drumming
53.    learning is in the heart (interest)
54.    without the heart, will not learn; with heart can learn even without teaching
55.    Alhaji Ibrahim learned the dances of the tribes because of heart
56.    no tribe beats Dagbamba dances, but Dagbamba drummers beat other tribes' dances
57.    beating luŋa is different from other drums

Alhaji Ibrahim’s learnedness and respect

58.    learning like building a house, needs a strong foundation
59.    Alhaji Ibrahim's path to knowledge from learning and traveling
60.    Alhaji Ibrahim's leadership of drummers in Tamale
61.    Alhaji Ibrahim's craftsmanship in making drums
62.    Alhaji Ibrahim's leadership and respect because of knowledge
63.    example of Wangara funeral at Savelugu
64.    how Alhaji Ibrahim listens and learns
65.    importance of trying to do something well
66.    fast drumming compared to clear drumming
67.    Alhaji Ibrahim's group of drummers the leading Dagbamba drummmers

Differences between guŋgɔŋ and luŋa

68.    importance of luŋa to lead drumming
69.    Alhaji Ibrahim has reached the highest respect among drummers
70.    Alhaji Ibrahim leaves guŋgɔŋ to beat luŋa
71.    differences of guŋgɔn beating; Sheni's son Mohamadu's beating is interesting because he lived in the South
72.    using the left hand in beating guŋgɔŋ to increase the sound; example of Mohamadu's shyness beating guŋgɔn in front of Alhaji Ibrahim
73.    Mangulana's son Fuseini Jɛblin's guŋgɔŋ beating
74.    difference in guŋgɔŋ beating between Alhaji Ibrahim's youth and Jɛblin's time; Taachi drumming
75.    Jɛblin's extent in drumming

Differences between drummers in Dagbon and in the South

76.    drummers learn drumming to different extents
77.    drummers in the South do not know some drumming of Dagbon, like Punyiɣsili
78.    drummers in the South do not know as much about drumming for chiefs
79.    how chiefs dance compared to commoners; changing dances and changing styles
80.    drummers in North know more than drummers in the South; no one knows all of drumming
81.    importance of roaming to learn more
82.    conclusion

Proverbs and sayings  <top of page>

A human being is in two parts, father’s house and mother’s house, and if you like, you can say four parts.  If somebody asks you, you will talk about your father and talk about your mother, those two people, and you will come to talk about the ones who gave birth to them. 

Worms:  they usually die together.

A wet fish can be bent, but a dry fish cannot be bent.
Zimmahili n-ni tooi pɔri, ziŋkuŋ ka tooi pɔri.

“He drums and they give him cow’s intestines to chew.”

“He drums and eats cow’s blood.” 

“He drums and eats the worst food.” 

A person cannot take a plain white thing and know its front and its back.  It is only God who knows it. 

It is very difficult to look at bee's wax and know what is inside and what is outside. 

If you take a white cloth and look at it, you cannot know the front of the cloth and the back of the cloth, or the right and the left of it. 

What they don’t show you, you can never know.

If I say that my eyes are open too much and that people will not cheat me, then I will not get what I want. 

If you want something, you should take patience, and you make yourself a fool, and you make yourself deaf, and you make yourself blind.  You will be deaf because when you go to search for wisdom, they will tell you something bad, and you will pretend as if you have not heard it.  And you will see them doing bad things to you, and you will close your eyes and say you have not seen it.  And you will know that they are doing bad things to you, and you will pretend as if you don’t know it. 

You should make yourself foolish.  And make yourself deaf, and blind.  And you will know that you can see a lot and know that you can hear well.  And you will say that you don’t see and don’t hear.  If you say that, then we will all gain from one another.  That is the work of wisdom. 

If you get wisdom, you should not say that no one will cheat you.
A wise person and a wise person cannot stay together.  It is only a wise person and a foolish person who can stay together. 

A hawk has taken a dog's bone  (Baakobli)

Namɔɣu’s house has strength, plenty. 
Namɔɣ’ yili mal’ kpiɔŋ kpam!

Learning is in the heart. 

If you want to build a house, you have to make the foundation very strong. 

When you want to learn something, you should learn it very well.

When a lion is lying down, if a leopard wants to take some meat, the leopard cannot cross in front of the lion to eat it. 

As for dancing and learning how to beat the drum, you don’t sit to learn it only in your town. 

It is good if you roam when you want to learn something.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Yendi chiefs
Naa Nyagsi  (Naa Nyaɣsi)
Naa Luro
Naa Tutugri  (Naa Tutuɣri)
Naa Zanjina
Naa Garba
Naa Sigli  (Naa Siɣli)
Naa Zagli  (Naa Zaɣli)

Drummers and drum chiefs
Lun-Naa Wumbie
Lun-Zoo-Naa Abukari
Namo-Naa Ashagu  (Namo-Naa Ashaɣu)
Namo-Naa Banchiri
Namo-Naa Bizun  (Namo-Naa Bizuŋ)
Namo-Naa Lelbaa
Namogu  (Namɔɣu)
Nanton Lun-Naa Iddrisu
Palo-Naa Bako
Palo-Naa Chimsi
Palo-Naa Darizhegu
Palo-Naa Issa
Palo-Naa Darizhegu  (Palo-Naa Dariʒɛɣu)
Palo-Naa Issa
Palo-Naa Kosagim  (Palo-Naa Kosaɣim)
Palo-Naa Kpemahim  (Palo-Naa Kpɛmahim)
Palo-Naa Mumuni
Palo-Naa Wumbie
Palo-Naa Zingnaa  (Palo-Naa Ziŋnaa)
Tolon Lun-Naa Mushee

Boggolana Mahama
Dalunlana Blemah
Kumbungu Nakohi-Naa Yamusah  (Kumbungu Nakɔhi-Naa Yamusah)
Lamashegulana Dawuni
Nanton-Naa Alhassan
Nanton-Naa Sule
Pigu-Naa Abilaai
Savelugu Nachimba-Naa
Savelugu-Naa Abilaai
Savelugu-Naa Bukari Kantampara
Savelugu-Naa Mahami
Singlana Aduna
Tolon Lun-Naa
Vo-Naa Moro
Zakpalisilana Baakali
Zoggolana Dasana
Zugulana Ali

Alhaji Adam (Alhassan) Mangulana
Alhassan Abukari
Alhassan Lumbila
Fati Tolon
Fuseini (Alhassan) Jeblin (Jɛblin)
Ibrahim Abdulai
Mohamadu Fuseini
Sheni (Fuseini Alhassan); Shembila
Yakubu Baakobli

Musical terms
Biegunaayo  (Biɛɣunaayo)
gungon  (guŋgɔŋ)
Je kpibu lunsi  (Jɛ kpibu lunsi)
lumpag’ bia  (lumpaɣ' bia)
lumpaga  (lumpaɣa)
lunga  (luŋa), lunsi
Naa-nyebu  (Naa-nyɛbu)
Nagbiegu  (Nagbiɛɣu)
Nakohi-waa  (Nakɔhi-waa)
Namog’ yili mali kpion kpam  (Namɔɣ' yili mal' kpioŋ kpam)
Punyigsili  (Punyiɣsili)
Samban’ lunga  (Samban' luŋa)

Towns and places

Cultural groups

Miscellaneous terms
cedi, cedis
kalugi  (kaluɣi)