A Drummer's Testament
drummers
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Chapter I-18:  Baamaaya, Jɛra, Yori, Bila and Other Dances of Dagbon  <PDF file>

Baamaaya; Jɛra; Yori; Bila; Nyindɔɣu and Dimbu; Gingaani; dances of the craft-guilds and other tribes; group dances compared to individual dances

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

Supplementary material

Images
Baamaaya dancer 1
Baamaaya dancer 2
Baamaaya dancer 3
Baamaaya dancer 4
Baamaaya dancers 1
Baamaaya dancers 2
Baamaaya group

Jera dancer 1
Jera dancer 2

Simpa gallery (19 images)

[more images and audio forthcoming]


Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Ways to classify Dagbamba dances

1.  group dances different from individual dances; older; for particular occasions
2.  Takai, Tɔra, Baamaaya, and Damba are the best know Dagbamba dances
3.  Jɛra:  only in some towns; for certain types of funerals
4.  different ways to classify the importance of dances
5.  importance of Ginggani to chieftaincy; when a chief comes outside his compound
6.  the important dances are Takai, Damba, Tɔra, Baamaaya, Jɛra; the old dances are Jɛra, Yori, Bila, Nyindɔɣu, and Jinwarba dance
7.  importance from drumming perspective:  Damba, Gingaani, Samban’ luŋa
8.  everyone knows Takai, Tɔra, Baamaaya; children play them
9.  children learn Takai, Tɔra, and Baamaaya at an early age

Baamaaya

10.  nowadays for funerals and festivals; formerly recreational music danced in the night
11.  danced to escape mosquitoes at night
12.  original meaning was Daamaaya:  the market is cool
13.  dancing was different; Baamaayaa was Tuubaaŋkpili; current Baamaaya dancers do not know their origins
14.  this information from old people who were there
15.  Daamaaya not common; replaced by Tuubaaŋkpilli
16.  how Daamaaya was danced; in a line with scarves; women also danced it
17.  Daamaaya dress was jɛnjɛmi, not skirt; women would give the scarves
18.  Tuubaaŋkpilli dress was piɛto oe kpalannyirichoo; replaced by mukuru; Gbinfini-waa (naked dance); use of chaɣlaa
19.  Daamaaya and Tuubaŋkpilli compared; different dancing and dress
20.  Daamaaya songs; proverb about fisherman explained
21.  Daamaaya songs; gossip and abuse; like Atikatika; many chiefs did not like it and forbade it
22.  Tuubaŋkpilli has become Baamaaya; its songs; other dance beats added like Nyaɣboli
23.  current Baamaaya dancers do not know the original beating; drummers know it better
24.  many people do not know this talk about Baamaaya

Jɛra

25.  old dance; danced at certain funerals:  chiefs, old person, relative of Jɛra dancer
26.  in only a few towns, not everywhere; Changnayili, Jimli are two examples
27.  Jɛra danced with medicine; need protection; moves inside families
28.  use of kabrɛ medicine in Jɛra dancing
29.  dangerous to touch a dancer’s leg; the dance shows strength
30.  use small guŋgɔŋs and one luŋa; use shakers, saaŋsaaŋ and feeŋa
31.  Jɛra songs are proverbs; different types

Yori

32.  for women chieftaincies; danced by Gundo-Naa and Yendi princesses; hold clubs; no singing
33.  the dance is not common; the beating is the same as when shaving funeral children
33.  Yori is restricted; not beaten outside its traditional role

Bila

33.  rare; not in every town; only for some chiefs; examples:  Yendi, Yendi Gulkpeogu, Tuuteliyili, Karaga, Gushegu, Mion
34.  use only guŋgɔŋs, but sometimes add drummers
35.  many medicines used in Bila; dancers show powers and perform wonders
36.  the wonders:  Alhaji Ibrahim has not seen but has heard from others
37.  knocking a Bila dancer’s leg is forbidden; dangerous; from typical Dagbamba

Other dances

38.  Bila and Nyindɔɣu not popular for beating; children do not know them
39.  Nyindɔgu and Dimbu are like Bila; at Yendi Gulkpeogu and Gushegu; Nyindɔgu no drums, only songs and hoes; many forbidden things
40.  Gbɔŋ-waa:  barbers’ dance; not beaten by drummers; only on certain occasions
41.  Gbɔn-waa for funeral of an old barber; sung in the house

Comparing the dances

42.  these dances are different from Takai, not part of community gatherings; Takai for any occasion;
43.  dances of eastern Dagbon, many tribes have mixed there; Baamaaya and Jɛra more for western Dagbon
44.  Yendi side and Savelugu side were separated until Naa Alaasani’s time; dances were also localized

Drummers' knowledge of dances

45.  drumming talks are many; one can only know one’s extent
46.  Dagbamba drummers beat dances of other tribes; no tribe can beat Dagbamba drumming
47.  Dagbamba drummers learn other tribes’ beating to beat for that tribe’s person to dance
48.  learning is from the heart; Dagbamba have a lot of sense; but not white men’s or soldiers’ beating

Conclusion

49.  transition to talk of Takai and Tɔra


Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Turn and knock an old person [a young person] on the head, kpai!  It doesn’t matter.

It is when there is no sleep that there is a mosquito.

If the fisherman is wicked, then how much more the seine that catches the fish? 

The one who is close to the chief eats kantɔŋ soup.

The chief called his wife and she didn't come; she has flat buttocks. 

The one who has strength is the one with the truth.

Who likes the tax collector?

A poor man has no friend. 

If a river dries up, it is only God who will be ashamed. 

If somebody is not in the house and his thing is going to spoil, the one who fears God will make it well. 

Any good thing will not lack somebody to buy it. 

If you don’t see something, and you say you believe it, then how do you believe it?

As for knowledge, everyone cuts the extent he can. 

If you are able to get a little knowledge, and that is what you can carry, then you have to hold it well, and it will be solving your problems.  What you are holding, somebody is also somewhere looking for it, and he hasn’t got it. 

Our learning is also from our hearts, that our hearts can catch many talks. 
 

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Yendi chiefs
Yaa-Naa, Yaa-Naas
Naa Abdulai
Naa Abudu Setan' Kugli  (Setaŋ' Kuɣli)
Naa Alaasani
Naa Andani
Naa Yakuba

Other chiefs and elders

Gulkpe-Naa
Gundo-Naa
Kamo-Naa
Nanton-Naa
Savelugu-Naa
Tijo-Na

Dances
Aberewa konkonsa
Atikatika
Baamaaya
Bila
Daamaaya
Dam' Duu
Damba
Dimbu
Gbinfini-waa
Gbon-waa  (Gbɔŋ-waa)
Gingaani
Gumbe  (Gumbɛ)
Jera  (Jɛra)
Naanigoo
Nantoo Nimdi
Nagbiegu  (Naɣbiɛɣu)
Nyagboli  (Nyaɣboli
Nyindogu  (Nyindɔɣu)
Num Bie N-Kpan  (Ŋum Biɛ N-Kpaŋ)
Num Mali Kpion  (Ŋum Mali Kpiɔŋ)
Saligi Naa diri kanton  (Saligi Naa diri kantɔŋ)
Samban’ lunga  (Samban' luŋa)
Simpa
Takai
Tuubaankpilli  (Tuubaaŋkpilli)
Tora  (Tɔra)
Waache so korata
Yori
Zhim Taai Kurugu  (Ʒim Taai Kurugu)

Musical and song terms
Asante kotoko, wokum apem a, apem beba.  (Asante kɔtɔkɔ, wokum apem a, apem bɛba.)
castenet
chaglaa  (chaɣlaa)
Dagbon Dagbon, sagsi zan kpe.  (Dagbon Dagbon, saɣsi zaŋ kpɛ.)
feenga  (feeŋa)
goonji
gungon, gungons  (guŋgɔŋ, guŋgɔŋs [guŋgɔŋa])
Kulpal' mal bem di dii bamdi chichagsala.  (Kulpal' mal bɛm di dii bamdi chichaɣsala.)
lunga  (luŋa)
lun-bansi  (luŋ-bansi)
lunsi
saansaang  (saaŋsaaŋ)
Sagsi zani ka nin bii zugu.  Kpai!  Dim pa taali.  (Saɣsi zani ka niŋ bii zuɣu.  Kpai!  Dim pa taali.)
Sagsi zani ka nin kpem' zugu.  Kpai!  Dim pa taali.  (Saɣsi zani ka niŋ kpɛm' zuɣu.  Kpai!  Dim pa taali.)
timpana

Names and people
Mumuni
Osmanu


Towns and places
Changnayili
Dagbon
Gulkpeogu
Gushegu
Jimli
Karaga
Kumasi
Mion
Nanton
Savelugu
Tolon
Tuuteliyili
Yendi
Yiwogu  (Yiwɔɣu)

Cultural groups
Ashanti
Bassari
Chemba
Dagbamba
Dagbana
Gonja
Hausa
Kotokoli
Mamprusi
Mossi
Yoruba
Zambarima

Miscellaneous terms
calabash
chichagsala  (chichaɣsala)
chieftaincy
Dagban' sabli
Dagbani
golse
jenjemi  (jɛnjɛmi)
Jinwarba
kabre  (kabrɛ)
Kambonsi
kanton  (kantɔŋ)
kpalannyirichoo
mukuru
Muslims
pieto  (piɛto)
Ramadan
yoo
yoojangbehi  (yoojaŋgbɛhi)