A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter I-19:  Takai and Tɔra  <PDF file>

The Takai and Tɔra dances; their importance in community events

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

Supplementary material

(more forthcoming)
Tora dancers Tamale 1983
Young Tora dancers 1
Young Tora dancers 2
Takai dance 1
Takai dance 2
Takai drummers
Young boys drumming Takai
Young Takai dancer
Young Takai dancers

(Use player for 192kbit/s.  For older browsers or limited bandwith, click on link to play at 64kbit/s in separate window.)





Nun Da Nyuli

Full Takai Suite  (28:54)

Continuous recording with the dance changes as noted below:
00:00  Takai
08:18  Nyagboli
13:08  Kondalia
18:54  Dibs' ata
24:15  Nun Da Nyuli

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>


1.  leading Dagbamba dances; old; a pair; dancing must be learned
2.  basic description of the two dances
3.  similar beating; Nyaɣboli, Ŋun Da’ Nyuli; some songs the same


4.  the movements are nice; out and back to knock buttocks
5.  difficult to dance; needs strength; can get hurt
6.  need to learn Tɔra; young girls learn it in play
7.  very traditional dance; only women dance it
8.  women can dance men’s dances, but men don’t dance Tɔra
9.  Tɔra widely known among women

Tɔra performance

10.  Takai and Tɔra danced for occasions; for funerals, or called for a gathering
11.  Tɔra similar to Takai; funerals, weddings
12.  Tɔra especially for when shaving the heads of the funeral children, or funeral prayers; beaten at night for four or seven days
13.  cola and money to call Tɔra as an invitation; what the Tɔra dancers do for drummers; gifts and food

Tɔra’s origins

14.  Tɔra’s starting in Samban’ luŋa:  Naa Yenzoo’s wives and elders jealous of his friendship with Jɛŋkuno
15.  chief’s wives lied to accuse Jɛŋkuno of having sex with them
16.  Jɛŋkuno ran away; Gbanzaliŋ and the chief’s wives danced Tɔra

Tɔra’s beating

17.  three dances inside Tɔra:  Tɔra Yiɣra, Kawaan Dibli, Nyaɣboli; their songs
18.  Ŋun Da’ Nyuli added; its songs
19.  Tɔra songs; singing stops as dance heats up
20.  start beating with Tɔra Maŋa; differences from Hausa Tɔra
21.  comparing Dagbamba Tɔra and Hausa Tɔra; popularity of Tɔra Yiɣra
22.  mixed cultural aspects with Hausas; Lua
23.  Dagbamba are closer to Hausas than to Ashantis


24.  danced by Dandawas and Mossis
25.  Takai not as strong in villages; not mentioned in Samban’ luŋa
26.  old dance, for everyone; Alhaji Ibrahim has not heard any talk about its starting

Takai’s importance

27.  Alhaji Ibrahim telling the truth about Takai; others might tell lies
28.  example:  story about using swords; Alhaji Ibrahim hasn’t seen or heard it
29.  Alhaji Ibrahim is Takai leader; people don’t ask how it started; not part of chieftaincy talks
30.  important but not because of any talk
31.  continually changes with the generations
32.  Takai has no talks of its starting; it evolves

Takai drumming styles, drum language, and false meanings

33.  formerly not many styles of beating the dances
34.  drummers’ styles can be their own idea; no meaning for the dance
35.  many styles have no language
36.  compare:  drum language important in dances like Baŋgumaŋa and Ʒɛm; more serious than Takai
37.  no meaning:  the beating may reflect or resemble language, but it is not significant
38.  some styles are talking; some not; “your wrist is sweet”
39.  some beating styles from the movement of the wrist; fit the beating
40.  some styles have no intention behind them
41.  Takai styles are like joking; people can compare to talk
42.  Takai:  important that the dancers knock their sticks on the beating
43.  Takai song:  “knock a person on the head” the main style of Takai
44.  knocking the head is joking; this style has been there a long time
45.  guŋgɔŋ follows the dancers; drummers, too; not taught meanings
46.  Takai’s meaning is in its use at gatherings
47.   how Alhassan taught John false meanings, but Alhaji Ibrahim himself created those styles without language
48.  anybody can easily compare drumming to language; example:  false meanings in Baŋgumaŋa
49.  example:  lumbobli drum language about drink is false; many people talk without knowledge
50.  no evidence for lumbobli langauge about drink
51.  need to use eyes and sense to evaluate what people say
52.  don’t follow the talk of people who do not know
53.  Takai styles are joking; example:  Nyaɣboli language
54.  example:  Kondalia language
55.  example:  Kondalia language
56.  styles come from both language and wrist; anything to energize the dancers
57.  Takai’s meaning is general, from the performance, not the drumming

How Takai evolved to include different dances

58.  Alhaji Ibrahim met Takai with four dance beats:  Takai, Nyaɣboli, Kondalia, Dibs’ ata
59.  dance added to Takai:  Ŋun Da’ Nyuli
60.  dance added:  Damduu
61.  dance added:  Ŋum Mali Kpiɔŋ
62.  the process for adding a dance; discuss whether the beating will fit; borrowing dance beats; comparing Takai and Baamaaya
63.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s group added Ŋun Da’ Nyuli; not beaten when Alhaji Adam was leading Takai
64.  how the drummers met and practiced adding Ŋun Da’ Nyuli; dancers worked on their own
65.  the additional dances make Takai more interesting

Beating and dancing Takai

66.  differences among the Takai dances; the difficulty of the beating
67.  Takai more strenuous than Baamaaya; danced one to two hours compared to all night
68.  Takai drummers also use energy to move with the dancers; difficulty of dancing
69.  Nyaɣboli and Kondalia are difficult; many styles, fast moving
70.  Takai:  more styles in towns than villages; more experience beating it
71.  not all drummers learn Takai; special groups

Calling Takai

72.  Takai performance is called; beaten by arrangement
73.  calling process:  send cola and deposit to Takai leader, who calls the group; payment after the dance
74.  sometimes follow Takai with general dancing; all the money later shared among drummers and dancers
75.  Takai also for when shaving the funeral children
76.  not for all funerals or weddings, unless called
77.  to call Takai needs an event and also a patron

Takai performance

78.  young drummers beat at venue about 4:00 or 4:30; dance can start if about ten dancers arrive
79.  fifteen to twenty dancers is optimal, with two guŋgɔŋs and six or seven drummers
80.  drummers follow the dancers inside their circle
81.  dancing ends around 6:00; sunset, evening prayers
82.  for government gatherings, change dances quickly; every five or ten minutes
83.  slow performance is better; more interesting; fast performance has few dances and changes quickly
84.  older dancers are better; dance coolly, without confusion


85.  transition to drumming and dancing at gatherings, especially funerals

Proverbs, Sayings, and Songs  <top of page>

They pegged a corn cob and said it was a penis.

Chief called you and you refused.  Your flat buttocks!

The one who bought the yam, he has also bought the buttocks. 

One yam can spoil fufu. 

If a fish comes out of the water and tells you that a crocodile has one eye, you should believe the fish.

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

Watching is evidence of everything.

What you are holding now, you must hold it with your two hands.

They can deceive a blind person about everything except cold.

What our elders told us, that is what we give to our friends. 

Don't go and carry useless people's talks into your better talks:  as for those who follow useless people, one day, if their anus is open and they are ashamed, you will not be involved.

If you look down upon what you are holding, you will sleep with hunger. 

There is something sweet inside a cloth, there is something sweet inside trousers.

A woman who has no hair on the vagina shouldn't bend down when bathing.

Tall, skinny-legged person:  greet your home-town people.

Disturbance in a room; a mouse has got a bad name. 

The one who has strength has the right. 

If you buy something from someone, and you are taking it to do the same work as that person is doing, you can never be the equal of that person. 

If they show you a crazy person and tell you to go and get a crazy person and bring him, if you can't get a crazy person, then you have to get a young person to stand for the crazy person. 

The young people don't hear what people say:  that is why I call them crazy people. 

An old man has got sense to do everything in the right way.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
Gbanzalin  Gbanzaliŋ
Magaazhia  Magaaʒia
Naa Yenzoo
Tali-Naa Alhassan
Zohe-Naa  (Zɔhi-Naa)

Dances and songs
Bangumanga  (Baŋgumaŋa)
Dam' Duu
Dibs' ata
Hausa Tora  (Hausa Tɔra)
Jengkuno  (Jɛŋkuno)
Kawaan Dibli
Nagbiegu  (Naɣbiɛɣu)
Nakohi-waa  (Nakɔhi-waa)
Nyagboli  (Nyaɣboli)
Num Mali Kpion  (Ŋum Mali Kpiɔŋ)
Nun Da Nyuli  (Ŋun Da' Nyuli)
Samban' lunga  (Samban' luŋa)
Tora  (Tɔra)
Tora Manga  (Tɔra Maŋa)
Tora Yigra  (Tɔra Yiɣra)
Tanchili gon  (Tanchili gɔŋ)
Tubaankpilli  (Tuubaaŋkpilli)

A bu na sichin zani daadi naa sichin woondo  (A bu na sichiŋ zani daadi naa sichiŋ woondo)

Bem bo ma be pam bo ma je  (Bɛm bo ma bɛ pam bo ma jɛ)

Dam’ Duu:  jengbarga deei yu biegu   (Dam' Duu:  jɛŋgbarga deei yu' biɛɣu)

Kawaan dibli, ka be zan kpa, ka ye ni yoli be; kawaan dibli, ka be zan kpa!  (Kawaan dibli, ka bɛ zaŋ kpa, ka yɛ ni yoli bɛ; kawaan dibli, ka bɛ zaŋ kpa!)

Man' dan yeli ka nyim' bi lan nya  (Man' dan yɛli ka nyim' bi lan nya)

Naa sa boon' a k'a zagsi.  A nyiri gbingbamba;  gbamba, gbamba  (Naa sa boon' a k'a zaɣsi.  A nyiri gbiŋgbamba;  gbamba, gbamba)

Nyu dam, ti nyu dam

Nun' da nyuli, nun da' gbini  (Ŋun' da nyuli, ŋun da' gbini)

Pan kpil sal'lana su kom kul dam tinga  (Pan kpil sal'lana su kom kul dam tiŋa)

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)

Simli bie manli, Nawulma  (Simli biɛ maŋli, Nawulma)

Takai m-bala

Zaan kum bemalana puhima ayaa nima  (Zaan kum bɛmalana puhima ayaa nima)

Zanm' ma bahi ka n chan tora ni.  Yee m bagu bo m-be tora ni  (Zaŋm' ma bahi ka n chaŋ tɔra ni.  Yee m baɣu bɔ m-be tɔra ni)
Maliymbila kam' na ka ti chan tora ni.  Yee m bagu bo m-be tora ni  (Maliymbila kam' na ka ti chaŋ tɔra ni.  Yee m baɣu bɔ m-be tɔra ni)

Musical terms
gungon  guŋgɔŋ
lunga  luŋa

Names and people
Abdulai Seidu
Adambila Iddi
Alhaji Adam Mangulana
Alhassan (Ibrahim)
Alhassan Abukari
Amadu Jaato
Fuseini Alhassan Jeblin
Nkrumah [Kwame Nkrumah]
Salifu Kpema  (Salifu Kpɛma)

Towns and places

Cultural groups

Miscellaneous terms
bra ye ndi
cedi, cedis
daba ata
daba ayopoin  (daba ayopɔin)
Dagban' sabli