A Drummer's Testament
drummers
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Chapter I-12:  Drummers and Other Musicians of Dagbon  <PDF file>

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)

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

Supplementary material

Images

Ziong Lun-Naa Issahaku Abdulai with moglo
moglo
Akarima
jenjili

Goonji images and recordings  <gallery view>

    dancing to goonji music, Tamale 1977
    two male zaabia with goonji dancer, Tamale 1977
    goonji dancer surrounded by sound, Tamale 1977
    giving money to goonji dancer, Tamale 1977
    Mahama Braimah, Tamale goonji
    Alhassan Braimah, Tamale goonji
    two goonjis with woman zaabia in front of chief's house, Tamale 1975
    goonjis with young girls on zaabia, Tolon 1983
    goonji with heart sunglasses and one zaabia
    goonji, Tolon 1983
    goonji, Tamale 1970s
    goonji at gathering, Tamale 1970s
    goonji, Tamale
    goonji recording ensemble, Tamale


Music

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Goonji

Dogua Bayoyoyo  (
“Do Not Feel Sympathy for the Tallest Chief”)

Sung in Hausa, the song is for a chief, Kari-Naa Abukari, that is, Abukari, chief of the town of Karaga.  While the chorus sings Dogua Bayoyoyo, Mahama sings proverbial praise-names: Among all the chiefs, he (Abukari) is the tallest.  What is your message (concerning war)?  When trouble is coming, you will try to prevent it so that it will not fall on you.  God has given you chieftaincy; no one can compare (himself) with you.  A gift is in the hands of God; if gifts were in the hands of people, they would refuse to give them.  You whom God has given a gift, and you have not given it to somebody: use that gift to help us follow God.  The lion is senior to the hyena and the leopard.




Wanda Ya Chi Magani Yaa Baata  (“Someone Who Fears Wants to Use Juju (but it won’t work)”)

Sung in Hausa, the song is for Kori-Naa Bukari, that is, Chief Bukari of the town of Korli.  To my ears, the rhythm resembles a popular dance drumming called Dam’ Duu.  The idea behind the chorus is that someone without courage may have medicine (juju) for protection against weapons but will still run from danger.  The leader sings the choral line and adds other proverbial praises that refer to chieftaincy:  If a crocodile catches someone, you can only help by shouting; if you enter the water, the crocodile will catch you, too.  What God has done, nobody is angry with it except a fool.  When the axehead comes out of the fire, no one will put it on his shoulder.  If you used to cross a stream easily, water will come with more force in the rainy season.  If there is a strange crocodile (a new chief) in the stream, you will be afraid to cross because you haven’t seen that crocodile before.






Jenjili

Fuseini Tia (jenjili and vocals) with Mahamadu Fuseini (bottle and supporting vocals)
Continuous recording (48:54) with song changes as noted below:
07:15/11:07/15:28/24:50/31:47/35:41/42:20/44:56



Yakubu Silmindoo (jenjili and vocals)
Continuous recording (49:07) with song changes as noted below:
03:48/06:45/09:43/12:14/15:29/17:56/20: 55/23:59/27:52/29:55/34:16/35:55/38:21/40:47/42:49/46:10



Moglo

Ziong Lun-Naa Issahaku Abdulai

Kuntunji


Mama Gurunsi


Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Introduction

1.      other musicians of Dagbon; Baaŋa:  anyone who beats
2.      everyone has his or her own position or work in Dagbon

The names of drummers

3.      “noise-makers”:  baaŋa; Monday and Friday:  Punyiɣsili, Biɛɣunaayo, Naa-Nyɛbu
4.      Punyiɣsili:   young drummers overcome shyness and learn singing
5.      Monday and Friday greetings to the chief
6.      Friday (Zumma) dancing at some chiefs’ houses
7.      “people who cause quarrels”; can abuse chief
8.      example:  war; drummer will insult chief or provoke war

Drummers as women

9.      “women”:  follow a chief from town to town
10.    “chief’s wives”:  call chief “my husband”; chief calls “my wife”
11.    Namo-Naa and Yaa-Naa quarrel:  like husband and wife
12.    how Namo-Naa begs Yaa-Naa, accompanied by the chief’s wives
13.    kneel and beat Tiŋ’ kurli
14.    chief’s gifts to Namo-Naa
15.    “Nabalima”:  beg the chief; drummers are forgiven for every offense

Transition

16.    Baaŋa a general name for those who beat and sing

Timpana, Akarima, and dalgu

17.    Akarima and timpana; origin from Ashantis and Naa Ziblim Bandamda; not in all towns
18.    drumming story:  origin of Akarima from Naa Bimbiɛɣu
19.    how old talks are; anachronisms in historical stories; example:  Akarima in Naa Luro’s talks
20.    dalgu drum, dal’ ŋmɛra:  Naa Daaturli, also called Naa Dalgu
21.    confusion in drumming talks:  anachronistic use of names and joining of names
22.    joining names is the way drumming is done; not a mistake or fault
23.    Akarima and Naa Luro; comparison of positions of Akarima and dal’ ŋmɛra
24.    use the name of Akarima to describe dalgu

Names in Dagbon

25.    the difficulty of drumming talks; how talks change; new things used to talk about old things
26.    summary of discussion of names
27.    confusion from names:  Naa Dalgu and Naa Daturli are same person
28.    types of Dagbamba names:  Muslim and non-Muslim
29.    proverbs as names, signs as names:  Naa Nyaɣsi’s name
30.    examples of names with meaning:  Bizuŋ, Lelbaa, Naa Tutuɣri, Naa Zokuli, Naa Zaɣli
31.    have to ask to know the reason or meaning of someone’s name; different from proverbs
32.    Naa Niŋmitooni:  story of Naa Zɔlgu, Naapaɣ’ Gaasinaba, and Naa Niŋmitooni
33.    Naa Siɣli’s name:  story of Naa Zaɣli and Naapaɣ’ Golgulana Ziŋnaa
34.    Naa Siɣli’s story:  Golgulana gives birth
35.    Naa Siɣli’s story:  Naa Zaɣli gives him the name “siɣli”; also Andani:  Andaan’ Siɣli
36.    summary of dalgu:  dal’ nyaŋ and dal’ laa

Goonji

37.    goonji:  fiddle; how it is made; recent popularity; cannot be compared to traditional work from family
38.    goonji started from Naa Ziblim Kulunku; drummers have more respect
39.    comparison of drummers and goonjis
40.    goonji playing not from family; no family door; anyone can become a goonji; zaabia rattle
41.    origin of goonji as strangers from Guruma to Mamprusi to Dagbon during Naa Kulunku’s time
42.    example of drummers’ seniority:  how drummers and goonjis play at chief’s house

Jɛnjili

43.    jɛnjili:  not inside custom; the trees used to make it
44.    jɛnjili played in the house
45.    comparing the position of jɛnjili in recent times and in tradition
46.    jɛnjili in recent times:  Ramadan and harvesting
47.    jɛnjili not included in talks of custom; examples
48.    jɛnjili songs; compared to drumming work

Mɔɣlo and kuntunji

49.    mɔɣlo and kuntunji:  description of how they are made
50.    Alhaji Mumuni played kuntunji, mɔɣlo, and jɛnjili when young
51.    moɣlo:  an instrument for princes
52.    a drummer who plays mɔɣlo:  Ziong Lun-Naa Issahaku
53.    mɔɣlo:  also included in talks of custom

The greater respect and importance of drumming

54.    Alhaji Ibrahim’s happiness about being a drummer
55.    the respect and work of Dagbamba drummers cannot be compared to other musicians
56.    Dagbamba drummers for Ashanti chief at Adae festivals:  Gingaani, Bandamda; praise from Asantehene
57.    drumming is more important and more respected than other music
58.    drumming is about strength and respect
59.    transition:  next talk about how drums are made


Proverbs and sayings  <top of page>

If you want to praise somebody, you have to take his own name to praise him.

The tongue and the teeth:  they quarrel.

A drummer has no rope in the chief’s house.

Bimbiɛɣu yi palo, ku lan lab’ sɔɣi. 
An ugly thing that has come out will not go back again.

Lies are like urine: when you urinate, it starts and goes far; and when it is ending, it finishes in front of you.


Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Yendi chiefs
Andaan' Sigli  (Andaan’ Suɣli)
Andani
Naa Bimbiegu  (Naa Bimbiɛɣu)
Naa Daazagli  (Naa Daazaɣli)
Naa Dalgu
Naa Daturli
Naa Garba
Naa Gbewaa
Naa Gungobli
Naa Kulunku
Naa Luro
Naa Ninmitooni  (Naa Niŋmitooni)
Naa Nyagsi  (Naa Nyaɣsi)
Naa Saa
Naa Shitobu  (Naa Shitɔbu)
Naa Sigli  (Naa Siɣli)
Naa Tutugri  (Naa Tutuɣri)
Naa Zagli  (Naa Zaɣli)
Naa Zanjina
Naa Ziblim Bandamda
Naa Ziblim Kulunku
Naa Zokuli
Naa Zolgu  (Naa Zɔlgu)
Naa Zulandi
Yaa-Naa
Zagli dapala Andani  (Zaɣli dapala Andani)

Drummers and drum chiefs
Bizun  (Bizuŋ)
Lunzhegu  (Lunʒɛɣu)
Namogu  (Namɔɣu)
Namo-Naa
Namo-Naa Lelbaa
Nanton Lun-Naa
Palo-Naa
Ziong Lun-Naa Issahaku

Chiefs and elders
Asantehene
Gulgolana Zingnaa  (Gulgolana Ziŋnaa)
Gulkpe-Naa
Kambonsi
Kamo-Naa
Karaga-Naa
Kari-Naa Ziblim
Mionlana
Naapag' Gaasinaba  (Naapaɣ’ Gaasinaba)
Nanton-Naa
Nanton-Naa Issa
Savelugu-Naa
Savelugu-Naa Abukari Kantampara
Sunson-Naa
Tolon-Naa
Wulana
Yabonwura (Yaboŋwura)
Zugulana

Musical terms
Akarima
Anua kotoko Asante kotoko; wokum apem a,  apem beba.  (Anua kɔtɔkɔ, Asante kɔtɔkɔ, wokum apem a, apem bɛba.)
Atikatika
Baamaaya
Baanga  (Baaŋa)
Bandamda
Bangumanga  (Baŋgumaŋa)
Biegunaayo  (Biɛɣunaayo)
Bimbiegu  (Bimbiɛɣu)
Bimbiegu yi palo, ku lan lab' sogi  (Bimbiɛɣu yi palo, ku lan lab’ sɔɣi.)
dal' laa
dal' nmera  (dal’ ŋmɛra)
dal' nyan  (dal’ nyaŋ}
dalgu
Damba
Fridays
Gingaani
goonji, goonjis
gungon, gungons  (guŋgɔŋ, guŋgɔŋa)
jenjili  (jɛnjili)
Jera  (Jɛra)
kuntunji
lunga  (luŋa)
lunsi
lunsi-drummer
Mondays
moglo  (mɔɣlo)
Naa-Nyebu  (Naa-Nyɛbu
Nabalima
Punyigsili  (Punyiɣsili)
Samban' luna  (Samba’ luŋa)
Simpa
timpana
Tin' kurli  (Tiŋ’ kurli)
yua
zaabia

Names
Alaamihi
Alizumma
Azima
Azimpaga
Azindoo
Fuseini Tia
Issahaku
Jebuni
Laamihi
Mumuni
Naabi Issabila
Wumbee
Yakubu Silmindoo

Towns and places
Accra
Bimbila
Bolgatanga
Chereponi
Dagbon
Dalun
Diari
Dipali
Gulkpeogu
Gushegu
Karaga
Kintampo
Kotokolis
Kumasi
Kumbungu
Lamashegu
Mion
Nanton
Salaga
Savelugu
Sunson
Takoradi
Togo
Tolon
Voggo
Yelizoli
Yendi
Yiwogu
Zangbalin
Ziong
Zugu

Cultural groups
Anua
Ashanti
Dagbamba
Dagbana
Dagbani
Fanti
Gonja
Guruma
Gurunsi
Hausa
Mamprusi
Mossi
Nanumba
Wala
Yoruba
Zambarima

Miscellaneous terms
Adae
calabash, calabashes
cedi, cedis
chieftaincy, chieftaincies
cowries
daazagli  (daazaɣli)
dawadawa
Dondowura
doo
housechildren
maalams
naazoo
naa bihi
nogu  (ŋɔɣu)

Ramadan
sigli  (siɣli)
tindana
vulunvuuna
wua
zangurin  (zaŋguriŋ
)
Zumma