A Drummer's Testament:   chapter outlines and links

Volume I Part 3:  Music and Dancing in Community Events


I-15:  Proverbs and Praise-Names


1.  drummers use sense to use proverbs for praise names and dances


2.  their characteristics and types
3.  meaning is not clear; doing its work involves interpreting it

Examples of proverbs and their meanings

4.  example:  “if a river is dry”:  interpreting the proverb; thinking and asking
5.  further explanation of the proverb; extended to someone with knowledge
6.  in custom, when give a proverb, do not show its meaning; person has to interpret
7.  why give proverbs; proverbs are two talks, different possible meanings
8.  example:  “people are talking”; two talks or meanings; good and bad
9.  further explanation:  John's reputation in Dagbon

Proverbs as indirect talk

10.  proverbs are not straightforward; need for patience to understand the reference
11.  indirect reference:  "bury a dead goat"
12.  "how is the market is not friendship" refers to greeting
13.  "stealing somebody's back" reference to gossiping
14.  "gather to bury shea nuts"
15.  proverb has many talks inside it; don't want to say something directly
16.  indirect talk for something you are shy to say

Proverbs make talk sweet

17.  proverb adds to talks
18.  proverbs give long thoughts; people like long thoughts
19.  proverbs show people sense
20.  the sense of proverbs can give a warning or advice; help people live correctly
21.  proverbs are for people with sense; have to hold the meaning

Drummers and proverbs

22.  drummers have proverbs; their sense started from worries and sadness as orphans
23.  drummers use proverbs to praise people, as a name to fit the person
24.  the name helps people know more about a person

Examples of praise names

25.  example:  how a proverb might apply to someone
26.  Nama-Naa Issahaku's name
27.  Alhaji Ibrahim's names

How praise names are beaten

28.  name can be spoken, sung, or beaten on drum; the drum can imitate the language
29.  many people can recognize their names when beaten on a drum
30.  drummers learn praising; different ways to beat names; singing while beating is difficult
31.  in addition to language, drumming has meaning in the reason why it is beaten

Learning to hear drum language

32.  people can ask to know the meaning of the drumming
33.  people learn to hear drumming talks to different extents; some chiefs learn it gradually; chiefs like Tolon-Naa Yakubu and Nanton-Naa Alaasani hear well because are close to drummers
34.  chiefs can learn it as princes; befriend and sit with drummers
35.  how a prince befriends a drummer to learn more
36.  the prince meets the drummer quietly in the night; doesn’t talk about what he learns
37.  a prince does not show his knowledge in public
38.  if such a prince becomes a chief, might even correct a drummer
39.  differences among chiefs; many do not know much; elders sit near and help them
40.  Alhaji Ibrahim wants John to learn to beat proverbs and to write down the drumming

Drumming in Hausa and Dagbani

41.  many proverbs are beaten as names; Hausa (Taachi) and Dagbani
42.  examples:  Hausa and Dagbani versions of the same proverbs
43.  Dagbamba proverbs that are beaten on a drum
44.  Hausa proverbs that are beaten on a drum

The benefits of praise names

45.  proverbial names enhance a person and also enhance the culture
46.  a name can hold a person back; drummers will correct it
47.  drummers praise a person with the grandfather’s name; enlightening

Praise names and family

48.  proverbs are old talks; proverbs are with everybody
49.  drummers keep alive the names of dead people within a family
50.  drummers know people’s families; family compared to a tree

Praise names and chieftaincy

51.  every Dagbana has a relationship to a line of chieftaincy
52.  a commoner comes from a chieftaincy line that has separated
53.  all Dagbamba have some relation to Yaa-Naa; even typical Dagbamba from Naa Niŋmitooni
54.  the “children” of Naa Nyaɣsi were not all his actual children
55.  if a prince marries a commoner, the child can become a chief
56.  chieftaincy lines mix and separate; many ways; can go to far ancestor, like drummers to Naa Nyaɣsi
57.  Alhaji’s mother’s side is Naa Siɣli; no longer a door to Yendi
58.  everyone is a chief’s grandchild; examples:  Naa Zoli, Savelugu-Naa Mahami

How drummers praise within a family

59.  when drummers praise people, they start with grandfather’s name; show person’s family line
60.  praise a commoner with praise-name of a chief; all the chiefs have lines; people know to varying extents
61.  drummers’ work:  praising and showing the family; makes people happy; get money as gift
62.  family can be traced to different origins; example:  Alhaji Ibrahim from Savelugu and Voggo

Praise names and knowledge of a family

64.  drummers know a person’s family to varying extents; compared to levels of schooling
65.  people learn about their family lines from praising
66.  praising and drumming always related to chieftaincy; chiefs and drummers are one
67.  the old talks (history) are behind both the chieftaincy and the drumming; not written

Praising at gatherings

68.  example:  praising at a funeral house
69.  how drummers praise people with proverbial names; excites people
70.  example:  man who killed his horse when praised
71.  at gatherings, drummers use praise to invite people to dance; dancers receive money from friends and relatives; drummers collect it
72.  gatherings are ways to help one another; go to funerals to support people; money makes support visible
73.  the giving of money, from talking truths about gathers and grandfathers
74.  people are happy at gatherings; hearing the good names of their forefathers
75.  when drummers don’t recognize someone; example:  Nyohinilana Pakpɔŋ pointed out to drummers, who then praised her
76.  people show themselves to the drummers
77.  other people will tell the drummers about a person; this showing oneself is not like bluffing
78.  gathering place:  people get to know one another and their families
79.  drummers also show the lower status of some people
80.  drummers can show the high standing of a quiet or shy person
81.  drummers show family relationships by using the same praises for different people
82.  sometimes relatives didn’t know their relationship unless drummers show them

Praising and sense

83.  drummers find appropriate names for people
84.  drummers use their knowledge to turn praise-drumming to dance beats
85.  Naa Mahamadu’s names
86.  using a name for dancing; can dance to a forefather’s name
87.  drummers have a lot of sense

I-16:  The Praise-Name Dances and The Benefits of Music


1.  continuation of the talk about praise names
2.  drummers use sense to turn a name to a dance

Old dances in Dagbon

3.  Taachi:  original names, without dances; from Hausa
4.  praise-name dances are not old
5.  dances:  Zuu-waa (Tonglana Yamusah), Lua, Damba, Dikala (blacksmiths), Nakohi-waa (butchers), Gbɔŋ-waa (barbers), Baŋgumaŋa, Ʒɛm

Taachi and other dancing at former gatherings

6.  drummers beat Taachi at gathering when Alhaji Ibrahim was young; Hausa and Dagbani names; Taachi dances now part of repertoire
7.  formerly at funeral house:  Tɔra for women, Taachi for men; children and friends arrange for the dances
8.  women arrange for Tɔra; individual dance circle for the men, but women would also dance Kondalia and Zamanduniya
9.  Kondalia and Zamanduniya from Hausas
10.  some Taachi dances also from Kotokolis; guŋgɔŋ beating; drummers learned their dances
11.  many Kotokolis lived in Tamale formerly before government made them leave
12.  formerly only Tɔra and Taachi for funerals; Takai more for festivals; organized by Nachin-Naa
13.  formerly Baamaaya (Tuubaaŋkpilli) not beaten at funeral houses
14.  Jɛra only in certain towns; only at funerals of Jɛra families, or by invitation
15.  Taachi praising like at current gatherings, but different dances; no praise-name dances

Praise names formerly were not danced

16.  formerly the names were there but not the dances; started gradually during Naa Abudu’s time
17.  Nantoo Nimdi not danced during Naa Yakuba’s times

Examples of praise names that are not danced

18.  Naa Kulunku:  Kulunku laɣim kɔbga
19.  Naa Andani Jɛŋgbarga:  Yuɣimpini
20.  Naa Ziblim Bandamda:  Kuɣa mini kasalli
21.  some names good for beating and singing but not good for dancing; examples:  Kuɣa mini kasalli
22.  some names are beaten for horse-riding

Learning praise-name drumming

23.  drummers learn to their extent; should not add to what they were taught
24.  the many dances in Dagbon are because of drummers; people also have many oreferences in dancing
25.  people tell drummers which dance they want; also, drummers adjust beating to fit the dancer
26.  drummers usually know a dancer’s preference; often follows the family
27.  some people can dance many dances; drummers try to limit the number; after second dance, no money
28.  some dancers change dances quickly; not a problem
29.  differences in learnedness; a lot to learn to know details of chieftaincy and history
30.  the dances show the history; adds to way of living
31.  the many dances in Dagbon also come from the dancers and what they want
32.  drummers also sing praises when beating for dancers
33.  only some dances have singing; Damba songs not danced; sometimes songs, sometimes praise singing

Example:  Naɣbiɛɣu

34.  Naa Abilaai Naɣbiɛɣu’s fighting with Bassari people
35.  how the drummers describe such events; not always clear
36.  Naa Abilaai killed the Bassari chief, Naɣbiɛɣu, and took his name
37.  different ways of the story, whether Naa Abilaai or his soldiers killed Naɣbiɛɣu; no real difference
38.  the Naɣbiɛɣu drum language and response; variations
39.  how the Dagbani is adapted to drum language
40.  the singing that accompanies Naɣbiɛɣu
41.  explanation of the singing
42.  further explanation of the metaphors in the singing
43.  drummer will add the singing of other praise-names of Naa Abilaai
44.  how the singing fits with the drumming and responses
45.  the singing is not one way; many differences depending on the drummer
46.  the dancer changes with the singing and beatingh; singing changes depending on the family of the dancer

Example:  Nantoo Nimdi

47.  Naa Yakuba’s name; poisoned meat
48.  explanation of the name
49.  singing the different praise-names of Naa Yakuba

Example:  Naanigoo

50.  Naa Andani’s name; how he called his name in the Zambarima war
51.  the singing inside Naanigoo
52.  explanation of the name
53.  further explanation of the name

Example:  Ʒim Taai Kurugu

54.  Naa Alaasani; the meaning of the name
55.  additional language inside the drumming
56.  the origin of the name in Naa Alaasani becoming Yaa-Naa

Example:  Naa Abudu

57.  how he was made Yaa-Naa by the British
58.  Setaŋ’ kuɣli; explanation of the proverb; same name as Naa Zanjina
59.  danced by horses in procession; wɔrbar’ sochɛndi
60.  no songs; sing the praise-names of Naa Abudu

Other chiefs’ names and dances

61.  Naa Mahama Kpɛma:  Bɛ yoli yɛlgu refers to how he became chief
62.  Naa Mahamam Bila:  Ʒiri laɣim kɔbga beaten for procession, not danced at gatherings
63.  Naa Abilabila Saŋmari gɔŋ explanation; other praise names
64.  Naa Mahamadu:  Kulnoli is danced; other names
65.  the names’ uses vary:  dancing, praise-singing, processional walking or riding

Other dances from praise-names

66.  Dam’ duu:  Tali-Naa Alhassan; meaning of the name
67.  explanation and story in the name Dam’ duu; Tolon-Naa Yakubu’s names
68.  Savelugu-Naa Mahami:  Ŋum Biɛ N-kpaŋ
69.  Kari-Naa Abukari:  Zambalana Tɔŋ; the history behind the name
70.  Diarilana Mahama:  Nayiɣ’ Naa Zan Bundan’ Bini
71.  commoners also have names that are danced:  Salinsaa Bili Kɔbga
72.  Ninsala M-Biɛ also a commoner’s name
73.  people who are not Dagbamba, such as Bimbila chief

Dances at the Damba Festival

74.  at Damba Festival, many dances are on display
75.  the sequence of the Damba Festival
76.  eighteenth day is final day; greetings and gatherings
77.  the eighteenth day is wonderful to see
78.  Dagbamba come from far away to celebrate Damba
79.  Damba is celebrated at chiefs’ houses
80.  Damba Festival focuses on chieftaincy
81.  people dance any dance they want at the gatherings
82.  they dance all the dances mentioned in the chapter
83.  also Gbunbil’ Lɛri:  Tugulana Iddi’s name
84.  also Jɛrgu Dari Salima:  Gushe-Naa Bukari’s name
85.  also Dɔɣim Malbo:  Savelugu-Naa Abukari Kantampara
86.  also Tibaŋ Taba:  Savelugu-Naa Mahami
87.  also Baŋ Nira Yɛlgu:  Kari-Naa Alhassan
88.  also Naawun’ Bɔr Duniya Malgu:  Nanton-Naa Sule
89.  also Ŋun Ka Yiŋa:  Vo-Naa Imoro
90.  also Zamba Kɔŋ Yani:  Gushe-Naa Bawa
91.  also Malimi So:  Nanton-Naa Alaasani
92.  also Kurugu Kpaa:  Dakpɛma Suŋna
93.  also Kookali:  Banvimlana Mahama
94.  also Pɔhim Ʒɛri:  Savelugu-Naa Ziblim

Dances from other tribes

95.  also many other dances; all these dances can be danced any time if someone wants
96.  Dagbamba dance dances from other tribes:  Yoruba, Kotokoli, Mamprusi, Gonja, and others
97.  why Dagbamba do not dance Wangara or Mossi dances
98.  drummers learn the dances because of mingling, especially in Tamale
99.  how Alhaji Ibrahim learned a Kotokoli dance at a gathering

The benefits of many dances

100.  dancing helps people become happy when there is sorrow or problems
101.  people with worries will find their worries reduced
102.  example:  a maalam dancing at his brother’s funeral
103.  dancing and drumming keep people’s names alive in memory

I-17:  How a Person Should Dance


1.  overview:  the starting of different dances
2.  dances are not grouped, such as for women or men; drummers beat all dances
3.  there is dancing at many occasions

Benefits of dancing

4.  dancing shows happiness; even at final funerals; drumming but no dancing during burial time
5.  some burials have no drumming; Kulunsi after return to house; praising; dancing at final funeral; exceptions
6.  dancing especially for old person’s funeral; happiness for long life
7.  dancing and happiness go together
8.  dancing makes a town good; increases a town’s name

Dancing styles and projection of character

9.  different styles of dancing add to the dance; make it nice, reflect happiness and cool heart
10.  the dance shows the heart of the person
11.  dancing with respect; patience and coolness
12.  different types of dancing reflect different types of human personalities
13.  showing oneself; project coolness, happiness, and self-respect
14.  dancing is a choice; what the heart wants
15.  example:  at market show part and hide part of what you sell; or who you are; preserves respect

Dancing movements

16.  dancing:  good to dance coolly, with respect and patience; not roughly
17.  no particular meaning to movements; try to follow traditional precedents; acknowledge elders
18.  respect tradition with dress
19.  good dancers dress dance appropriately to the drumming and the dance itself; don’t mix styles
20.  older people know tradition; dance better than young people
21.  older people have more knowledge of traditional significance
22.  experience and knowledge make the dancing nice

Dancers and drummers

23.  experience:  it is good to know the dance and learn it well
24.  the dancer can follow the beating of the guŋgɔŋ
25.  dancer can also engage the drummer; drummer can help the dancer
25.  Nakɔhi-waa originally had movement from drummer; now some other dances

Learning dancing

26.  can learn dancing from watching and not from asking
27.  try to dance to resemble an admired dancer one has watched
28.  when people are dancing, people look at them
29.  can learn dancing by watching and listening
30.  styles of movement from the type of dance; some dancers don’t have many styles

Dancing of chiefs and commoners

31.  Damba does not have many styles; movements reflect chieftaincy
32.  formerly the commoners did not have dance circles as at today’s gatherings
33.  formerly an offense for commoner to dress or dance like a chief
34.  modern days, the chiefs and commoners are closer
35.  modern times are good for drummers because life is easier
36.  people know one another’s standing at the gathering place
37.  when a person dances, drummers show the family; the dance should reflect relationship to ancestors

Dancing of princes

38.  showing oneself in dancing is not bluffing; but princes don’t show themselves
39.  princes put limits on dances and styles
40.  different dancing styles for a prince who gets chieftaincy; will not hide
41.  differences in dancing of chief, commoner, prince

Dancing and styles

42.  the beating shows which dances have styles, but styles are not as important as dancer’s projections
43.  cool dancing is interesting, but should follow the drums; make the dance look nice
44.  dancer follows the beating; follows the guŋgɔŋ and all drums together
45.  drummers can show dancer how to move; makes the dance nicer for everyone
46.  change dances when drumming changes; different tribes dance with different parts of body
47.  dancing mainly in the legs; use of arms in Nakɔhi-waa
48.  Nakɔhi-waa is difficult; sometimes Nakɔhi-waa dancer’s arms are just adding movement; Naanigoo is nice without many styles
49.  drummers adjust beating to individual dancer’s movements

Men’s and women’s dancing

50.  women also dance in Dagbon
51.  differences in men’s and women’s dancing from the body; women more discreet
52.  woman’s body is loose, can move faster; man has more strength
53.  man dances, turns, and shows smock; women show beauty
54.   women dance with more shyness; feet in and out; Zamanduniya good for women
55.  women’s arm movements in Damba, Naɣbiɛɣu, Naanigoo; foot movements in Nakɔhi-waa

Dancing and tribal styles

56.  Damba movements
57.  Mamprusi dance movements


58.  dances are different; people call both drummers and goonji groups
59.  transition to group dances

I-18:  Baamaaya, Jera, Yori, Bila, and Other Dances of Dagbon

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


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


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


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


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


49.  transition to talk of Takai and Tɔra

I-19:  Takai and Tora


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

I-20:  Funerals

Introduction:  funerals

1.  importance of funerals; many dances; Dagbamba and Muslim funerals are different
2.  funerals and death:  fearful talk
3.  parts of funeral:  preparing the body; the burial; the small funeral:  three days and seven days; the final funeral:  shaving the funeral children and showing the riches
4.  other aspects:  leader of the funeral takes people through the steps; this talk with regard to an older person who had children
5.  funerals reflect families:  the mother’s side and the father’s side
6.  the strength of the mother’s house; connection to a child
7.  the strength of the father’s house; father’s house performs the funeral before mother’s house

Kuyili kpɛma:  the leader of the funeral

8.  “elder of the funeral house”; head of the family; receives all strangers and makes decisions
9.  must be there before burial; gets the white cloth (kparbu) to wrap the body
10.  will look at the dead body; inquire about the death
11.  buy sheep for soli saɣim to feed strangers who gather, sit and sleep outside the house for one week

The Small Funeral

Drumming for the dead person

12.  drummers beat outside the room where the dead body is; for some people only
13.  Bɛ kumdi la kuli:  “crying the funeral”; taboos:  only at funeral house, cannot make a mistake

Bathing the dead body

14.  two sheep for Limam:  one for prayers, one for bathing the dead body
15.  bathing money; everything in fours for women, threes for men
16.  burial:  four days or three days; guns shoot three or four times
17.  with inflation, still use numbers that show three and four
18.  bathing the dead body:  tie grass, heat water, everything in threes and fours
19.  wash with special sponge from tanyibga tree roots; use local soap
20.  this type of bathing generally not done in modern days
21.  Muslims says one should use light touch on dead body
22.  the talk of sponges and soap is from the olden days
23.  modern people don’t even know about it
24.  Muslim way:  Yari-Naa, elder who bathes dead bodies; only uses water and hands
25.  use part of the cloth to make trousers and jumper, hat; wrap the dead body so face is exposed; put in box and bring outside

Settling of debts

26.  settling debts; funeral elder asks to settle any debts
27.  someone may have information about debt; will stand and testify
28.  some debts settled in private

Burial of the dead person

29.  take body to cemetery; drummers beat Kulunsi
30.  the kasiɣirba:  grave diggers put dead body into grave
31.  how the kasiɣirba place the body in the grave; uncover face; children must look at parent in the grave
32.  maalams say looking at sick people makes a person look at himself differently
33.  therefore others also look at dead people in the grave
34.  formerly children were forced to look; helps people live better lives
35.  only those at the burial look; no delay for the burial
36.  burial generally the same day a person dies, or the next day
37.  people rush to funeral house; nobody waits or delays
38.  even the funeral elder does not delay; if delayed, an elder from the area will fill in
39.  townspeople use cemeteries; in villages the grave is inside the compound, marked with cowries
40.  chiefs are buried in their room, which is then closed off
41.  some people buried in compound, some in room; sometimes funeral elder will stay and live in the house
42.  if person buried in bush, will mark the grave; then return to funeral house
43.  return to house for prayers; pass woven pan (pɔŋ) for burial money
44.  burial money is any amount people give to help with expenses

Prayers and sacrifice:  the “three days” and the “seven days”

45.  alms of small foods like maha given to children
46.  people stay at funeral house for one week to console family
47.  bɔɣli lɔɣbu:  covering the hole;  the three days and the seven days
48.  slaughter a sheep:  shared to kasiɣirba, drummers, Limam
49.  prayers and alms on the pɔŋ; repeated on the seventh day

Kubihi pinibu:  shaving the funeral children

50.  shaving the funeral children; usually only for chief’s children at the small funeral
51.  shaving is for all the family
52.  shaving is optional, but most do it to show relationship
53.  “buying your hair”:  pay the barber but don’t shave
54.  how the relatives sit to be shaved; drummers beat same beating as Yori; not grandchildren

The grandchildren's role

55.  beating ground with sticks; collecting money; the bereaved playmates
56.  grandchildren sometimes dance Dikala; drummers also praise people

Conclusion of the small funeral

57.  on the seventh day, the elder of the funeral sets date for the final funeral; some months later
58.  after small funeral, then the mother’s house funeral
59.  elder of the funeral leaves, but will help provide for widows and children

The final funeral:  kubihi pinibu, buni wuhibu, and sara tarbu

60.  final funeral:  shaving the funeral children; kill cow; bathe the eldest son and eldest daughter
61.  one week later:  showing the riches and giving the sacrifice; Thursday and Friday are strong; people gather at funeral house
62.  showing the riches:  in-laws; husbands of the dead person’s daughter; gifts of cloth, scarf, waistband, cola, and sacrifices
63.  public presentations by the in-laws; the role of Zoɣyuri-Naa
64.  in-laws bring drummers and dance groups
65.  dancing in the night; happiness
66.  recapitulation:  the work of drummers at the small funeral
67.  the drumming and dancing at the final funeral
68.  adua and sara tarbu:  prayers and sacrifice the next day to finish the funeral; then share the property

Funerals before Islam

69.  funerals before Naa Zanjina:  buli chɛbu; burial and then sacrifice a goat; “knocking out”
70.  Naa Zanjina brought maalams to show how to bath and bury a dead person

Benefits of funerals:  knowing the family and the friends

71.  help to make the family well; get to know one another
72.  get to know your mother’s side
73.  when take friends and family to wife’s parent’s funeral, gives great respect
74.  learn about relationships you might not know about
75.  if the family is small, some will attend funeral with many friends
76.  how your friends will support you, including even their friends who don’t know you
77.  how funerals become large; example of someone with many children and grandchildren
78.  benefits of funerals:  know the family and know the friends
79.  problem of funerals:  when food is not enough, some only so the small funeral
80.  somebody may profit from funeral from gifts of food
81.  Dagbamba reciprocate with regard to funerals

Drummers’ work at funerals

82.  show the family to one another; spending on drummers adds respect
83.  the in-laws bring different dances to the funeral house; dance group members support one another and their friends
84.  drummers also have several dance circles
85.  friendship the basis for all the help with dances; go and return home; Simpa and Baamaaya all night
86.  the dance groups are not paid; only come to help their friends
87.  like paying a debt of friendship; reciprocate and help one another; Dagbamba way of living
88.  resembles talk of respect:  how Dagbamba help one another; how drumming talks enter Dagbamba way of living

Why attending funerals is important for the family

89.  a father tells daughters’ husbands that they should perform his funeral well; adds respect to wife
90.  if many friends attend a funeral, the family may give one of them a wife; friendship brings family
91.  a well-attended funeral adds to a family’s respect
92.  sometimes people attend funerals because of the dead person who has attended funerals; Alhaji Ibrahim like that
93.  people do not attend funeral of someone who did not attend funerals; taboos
94.  not attending funeral or sending a messenger is like removing oneself from the family
95.  important funeral for someone without children; fear and respect; taboo
96.  funerals have not changed; deeply linked to family life and family strength
97.  great respect if Yaa-Naa sends a messenger to a funeral


98.  transition to talk of chiefs’ funerals and maalams’ funerals

I-21:  Muslims' Funerals and Chiefs' Funerals


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 Qur'an; 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 Qur'an 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


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