A Drummer's Testament
drummers
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Chapter I-21:  Muslims' Funerals and Chiefs' Funerals   <PDF file>

How Muslims are buried; stages of a Muslim funeral; sharing property; how chiefs die; how chiefs are buried; the installation of the Regent; chiefs funerals and the work of drummers; example:  Savelugu; the Gbɔŋlana and the Pakpɔŋ; seating the Gbɔŋlana; the Kambonsi; M'Ba Naa and showing the riches; selection of a new chief

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

Supplementary material

Images

assembled drummers "wake up the funeral" of Kari-Naa, 1977


Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Introduction

1.  differences of Muslim funerals; drummers do not beat
2.  differences among Muslims:  those who only pray and those who are more deeply inside

Muslim funerals

3.  three days and seven days; can extend time for strangers; finish with the forty days; no showing the riches
4.  prayers of the dead body in the house and at burial
5.  gather in evenings for prayers and preaching, throughout
6.  for maalam or important Muslim, many maalams will come and preach
7.  final day preaching until daybreak; contributing money and alms; money for maalams; greetings; same prayers at forty days

The forty days

8.  widows stay inside the house for the forty days
9.  bathing the widows; prayers and alms; return to family house; some may remain to care for children

Sharing the property among Muslims

10.  in Dagbamba funeral, can share after showing the riches, but often delay until later
11.  Muslims share property on the forty days gathering; a maalam shares according to Holy Qu’ran; a woman gets one half of man’s share
12.  how property is divided among the widows and children
13.  property given before death is not counted as a share
14.  while living, some people give property to brothers’ children living with them; otherwise excluded when sharing property at funeral
15.  written wills can be challenged; people trust maalams; a child can only be excluded when person was alive, not after death
16.  sharing property is difficult; complexities of a large estate
17.  Holy Qu’ran gives general guidelines for maalams to follow; no specific bequests

Sharing the property in Dagbamba villages for non-Muslims

18.  typical Dagbamba who are not Muslims; more differences
19.  in Dagbamba villages, the elder of the funeral takes the property of his brother; also takes care of the children
20.  in villages, the children will group and give seniority to the eldest brother
21.  how the house can break up; issues among children of different mothers
22.  sometimes the household will be unified

Sharing property in the towns

23.  dividing versus selling a house in the towns
24.  trouble common among the brothers’ wives and children
25.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim and his brother Sumaani and house in Tamale
26.  difficult for siblings from different mothers to stay together in a house

Transition

27.  conclusion of Muslim funerals; no drumming; chiefs’ funerals have many talks
28.  different drumming for different types of people; chiefs are different

Chief’s burial and small funeral

29.  drumming:  crying the funeral when dead body in the room; not taught
30.  chief “does not die”; dress the chief and walk him to the grave
31.  beating Gingaani for big chiefs; placing the body in the grave; drumming for three days and seven days to finish the small funeral
32.  deciding about the shaving day and seating the Gbɔŋlana

Example:  Savelugu chief’s small funeral and seating of Gbɔŋlana

33.  this talk also about chieftaincy; Savelugu the main chief of western Dagbon (Toma)
34.  Nanton-Naa performs Savelugu-Naa’s funeral
35.  Yaa-Naa’s elders meet Nanton-Naa; Namo-Naa sends elders; Yendi Akarima
36.  seating Gbɔŋlana after the small funeral; shaving the funeral children
37.  drummers wake up the funeral on Friday; Kambonsi also come
38.  shave the Pakpɔŋ and Gbɔŋlana first
39.  then shave funeral children; drummers beat Yori
40.  slaughter cow; how it is shared; head to Namo-Naa’s messenger; legs to Akarima
41.  Gbɔŋlana wears “red-day dress”; he and Palpɔn wear hat called buɣu
42.  Namo-Naa’s messager leads Gbɔŋlana outside with Gingaani
43.  message of the Gbɔŋlana; the chief has not died
44.  maalams say prayers; after, drummers beat Zuu-waa for the Gbɔŋlana and Pakpɔŋ
45.  Gbɔnlana will sit in place of chief until final funeral; acts in his place

Example:  Savelugu’s chief’s final funeral, waking up the funeral

46.  many chiefs come with drummers; bring food; drummers wake up the funeral; Kambonsi
47.  the Kambonsi:  not at every funeral; differences for women and men
48.  Kambonsi gather and go around the chief’s house; dance Kambɔŋ-waa
49.  Kambonsi can attend a commoner’s funeral for pay

Example:  Savelugu chief’s funeral, showing the riches

50.  M’ba Naa kills the chief’s horse and dog
51.  elders eat blood-soaked cola; meat thrown into wells
52.  chiefs and Gbɔŋlana ride horses; daughters wear kpari; Pakpɔŋ carries calabash around her neck
53.  drummers beat; procession around the chief’s house three times
54.  Gbɔŋlana and Pakpɔŋ gather with Nanton-Naa outside the house
55.  cows and cloths from Gbɔŋlana’s mother’s house and husbands of Pakpɔn and other daughters
56.  many animals at Savelugu chief’s funeral
57.  not all the cows are slaughtered at chief’s house; many used for food for visitors
58.  dancing in night; next day prayers and alms; funeral children to Nanton and then to Yendi

Choosing a new Savelugu-Naa

59.  Nanton-Naa sends messenger with Gbɔŋlana to greet Yaa-Naa that funeral is finished; Yaa-Naa will choose new chief
60.  many chiefs want Savelugu, along with Gbɔŋlana and other princes
61.  other who claim Savelugu to interfere
62.  Yaa-Naa informs Namo-Naa of his choice; the drummers gather at Yaa-Naa’s house
63.  Namo-Naa sings praise-names for the chiefs
64.  M’Ba Duɣu announces the selection
65.  putting the gown on the new chief; Namo-Naa beats Ʒɛm; sharing cola
66.  as the candidates leave Yendi, they greet Yaa-Naa in case of another chieftaincy
67.  if Gbɔŋlana does not get Savelugu, will be given another chieftaincy
68.  Gbɔŋlana and funeral children greet Yaa-Naa; follow new chief back to Savelugu
69.  conclusion of the talk


Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Everyone learns to the point he can learn. 

We are all one, but knowledge and traveling has made us to be more than one another. 

A chief does not die.

As our elder is not there, he is not dead.  He has traveled,

He has removed the skin and left the molting.

An orphan who becomes annoyed is someone without a father.

Yaa-Naa has given so-and-so this town to go and hold the children.  And when he gets home, he should pretend he doesn't hear, and he should be blind, and he should be a fool.  He shouldn't say his eyes are open, and he shouldn't say he has heard, and he shouldn't say he is wise.

Chieftaincy doesn’t know anything,

I put something on the skin and went home.


Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
Balo-Naa
Banvimlana
Demon-Naa
Gbonlana  (Gbɔŋlana)
Gbungbaligalana
Gundo-Naa
Gushe-Naa
Kambong  (Kamboŋ)
Kambonsi
Kamo-Naa
Karaga-Naa
Karagalana
Kari-Naa
Kori-Naa
Kpanalana
Kpatinlana
Kunkon-Naa
Limam, Limams
M'Ba Dugu  (M'Ba Duɣu)
M'Ba Naa
Mionlana
Mionlana Mahami
Mionlana Mahamuru
Naa
Naa Gungobli
Namo-Naa
Nanton-Naa
Pakpon  (Pakpɔŋ)
Palo-Naa
Sagnerigu-Naa
Savelugu Palo-Naa
Savelugu-Naa
Savelugu-Naa Abilaai
Savelugulana
Tibunlana
Tolon-Naa
Toma Yaa-Naa
Wulana
Yaa-Naa
Yari-Naa
Yendi Sampahi-Naa
Yidaan' Gunu

Proverbs and praise-names
M bo m-pa gbandi zugu ka kuli  (M bo m-pa gbandi zuɣu ka kuli)

Musical terms
Akarima
Bangumanga  (Baŋgumaŋa)
Be kumdi la kuli
Bimbiegu  (Bimbiɛɣu)
Bikbiegu yaa yen gari, miligim' k'o gari  (Bimbiɛɣu yaa yɛn gari, miligim' k'o gari)
Damahili
Damba
Dikala
Dogo  (Doɣu)
Dotuli
Gingaani
Kambon-waa  (Kambɔŋ-waa)
Kulunsi
Nam zhi sheli  (Nam ʒi shɛli)
Nmantuna yergu  (Ŋmantuna yergu)
timpana
Yori
Zambuyee!  Kpamkpamba, Zabagsi, Sagyersi, heei!  Zambuyee-e, heei!  (Zambuyee!  Kpamkpamba, Zabaɣsi, Saɣyersi, heei!  Zambuyee-e, heei!)
Zuu-waa

Names and people
Sumaani


Towns and places
Accra
Dagbon
Diari
Karaga
Korli
Kumbungu
Mion
Nanton
Naya
Sagnerigu
Savelugu
Tamalgu
Tolon
Toma
Voggo
Yendi
Zangbalin

Cultural groups
Dagbamba
Dagbana
Gonjas
Kambɔŋa
Konkombas
Kpamkpamba
Saɣyersi
Wangara
Yoruba
Zabaɣsi

Miscellaneous terms
adua
Alhaji
Asalaati
Bɛ pindi la kubihi
Bugim  (Buɣim)
bugu  (buɣu)
buni wuhibu
calabash
chieftaincy
daba pihinan
Dagbani
dawadawa
fufu
fula
gbogno  (gbɔɣno)
gbong  (gbɔŋ)
gungong  (guŋgɔŋ)
Holy Qu'ran
housepeople
kpaakulo
kpari
lana
maalam, maalams
maha
Muslims
pon  (pɔŋ)
preachings
sagim  (saɣim)
salimata
shelorgu  (shelɔrgu)
takaba
waistband