A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter II-1:  The Forbidden Talks of Drumming  <PDF file>

Scope of the historical chapters from origins through Samban' luŋa; different types of historical figures; taboos and sacrifices; the importance of the Samban' luŋa; fears of drummers regarding early history; Harold Blair (Yakubuʒee) and other previous researchers in Dagbon

Paragraph outline
Proverbs and sayings
Dagbani words and other search terms

Contents outline by paragraph  <top of page>


1.  Alhaji is responding to John’s interest and dedication

The plan for the talks about chieftaincy and history

2.  the topics:  Yendi’s origin, chiefs, Samban’ luŋa
3.  the origins of Dagbon; Naa Gbewaa:  separation from Mamprusis, Mossis, Nanumbas
4.  Naa Shitɔbu; Naa Nyaɣsi’s war on the tindanas and the beginning of chieftaincies in the towns
5.  chieftaincy:  how chiefs eat chieftaincy, their work; the elders;
6.  how Samban’ luŋa is beaten
7.  Samban’ luŋa:  Naa Dariʒɛɣu and Naa Luro; wars against the Gonjas
8.  Samban’ luŋa:  Naa Zanjina and how he ate chieftaincy
9.  Samban’ luŋa:  Naa Siɣli’s war against the Gonjas
10.  Samban’ luŋa:  Naa Garba, Naa Ziblim and the Ashantis; Naa Andani and the coming of white men
11.  not all the historical talks are included; some come in other sections

Difficulties and dangers of some types of drumming

12.  drummers have difficulties getting the old talks; sacrifices, restrictions, troubles
13.  some drumming is forbidden unless certain occasions; example: death drumming

Sacrifices for beating Samban’ luŋa

14.  Samban’ luŋa requires sacrifices; chief pays
15.  not every chief has Samban’ luŋa; smaller chiefs cannot afford it
16.  sacrifices to protect against dead chiefs’ spirits; Bagli and Yɔɣu
17.  example:  four drummers who beat Samban’ luŋa or testified to government died; full sacrifices not made
18.  not many drummers know the old talks; fear bad consequences
19.  Samban’ luŋa talks are public, not hidden; the chief makes the sacrifices

Drumming work and the importance of knowing one’s heritage

20.  Namo-Naa:  drummers as teachers; Samban’ luŋa is instructive
21.  the benefits of knowledge; old talks passed through generations to help people live well
22.  some people want to know their history; others don’t mind it
23.  example:  people have different characters, even in a family
24.  Samban’ luŋa shows a person’s grandparents; important to know
25.  drummers have interest in old talks; learn from elders
26.  drummers believe in custom; maintain knowledge for Samban’ luŋa

Early history before Naa Shitɔbu is more hidden

27.  the talks of the starting of Dagbon are different; Naa Nyaɣsi and Naa Shitɔbu not in Samban’ luŋa
28.  those before them are more hidden; Naa Gbewaa, Ʒirli, Fɔɣu,  Ʒipopora, Nimbu, Tɔhiʒee
29.  drummers don’t beat Tɔhiʒee; not inside chieftaincy; not inside drumming work
30.  Tɔhiʒee’s talk is not long but it is dangerous; people fear the talks
31.  sacrifices may not protect well; example:  Namo-Naa’s testimony to government committee on chieftaincy

Confusion about accounts of origins of Dagbon

32.  Tɔhiʒee’s talks are there; not forgotten or thrown away; only big drum chiefs know them
33.  chieftaincy talks are fighting and bad things; drummers reluctant to talk to Africans or to white men; confusion and misunderstanding
34.  one should be careful about hidden or forbidden talks
35.  human beings fear trouble; many drummers don’t know the old talks

Yakubuʒee’s research  (Harold A. Blair)

36.  Alhaji was a young boy during Yakubuʒee’s research; how Yakubuʒee used to travel around; his colleague
37.  Yakubuʒee carried a tail; probably used medicine to protect himself
38.  Namo-Naa’s recollections of Yakubuʒee; how Namo-Naa’s father taught Yakubuʒee
39.  bad consequences from the talks; deaths of Namo-Naa’s wives; Yakubuʒee’s accidental killing of Sunson Lun-Naa

Other researchers

40.  David Tait’s research; omissions; his death
41.  Brigitta Benzing’s research in Savelugu; paralysis of her informant
42.  schoolbooks on Tɔhiʒee mixed up; children don’t have sense to hear it; unclear sources
43.  John’s communication with Yakubuʒee; Yakubuʒee’s other sources; the British conference on chieftaincy; the work of E. F. Tamakloe

Conclusion:  the value of drummers’ experience

44.  drummers are the best sources on history; more than maalams or typical Dagbamba or even chiefs
45.  importance of following the traditions of drumming; requires sense and understanding

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Every time, every day, every moment, a human mind is changing.

A leopard does not eat goat meat, but when they are preparing the fire to cook goat meat, and a leopard comes to push the firewood, it will come that the leopard will have the appetite for the goat meat.

“A dog doesn’t bite its child and reach the bone.”

Naa Zanjina lit a lantern in Dagbon and opened the eyes of the Dagbamba, and he is the light of the Dagbamba.

“You should fear trouble.”

To fear trouble is better than to be in trouble.

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

No one is able to see what is forbidden unless he tries to do it.

Talk and live, talk and live, and put it down for people.

God did not create us so that we should all follow one way.

It is small drummers who go near to old drummers.

The one who gets his wish will not follow what people say.

The time there is no chief again, then that is the end of our Dagbamba living.

Truly, a talk can be small or short, but its forbidden talks are big.

A scorpion is small, but on the part of pain, a scorpion’s bite is up to the bite of a snake.

Something that comes, its peels are lying on the way.

When they harvest groundnuts, anywhere you are walking, you will see groundnut shells.

If a big tree dies, a small tree will come out.  And it is only because it is an old person who gives birth to a young person.   And it is because they don’t just give birth to an old person.

Fighting is inside the bone of chieftaincy,

In Dagbon here, if we say that something is forbidden, then it is true that it is forbidden.

Inside anything good, there is some bad.  And inside something bad, there is some good.  And so bad and good, they follow one another.

What comes to eat the life of people is not only one single thing.

As for all of us, we are all human beings, and of course we fear.  There is fear within us.

No one knows all the talks of drumming.

Nobody can know the talks of Dagbon more than a drummer.

It is drummers who know the tradition, and every drummer has the extent of his knowledge.

Tradition is not from anything.  It is just from, “My father said this, and my grandfather said this.”

You have to be inside the drumming before you will understand what is underneath the talks a drummer will talk.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Naa Abdulai
Naa Abilabila
Naa Abudu
Naa Andan’ Siɣli  [Naa Siɣli]
Naa Andani
Naa Dariʒɛɣu
Naa Dimani
Naa Garba
Naa Gbewaa
Naa Luro
Naa Mahama Kpɛma
Naa Nyaɣsi
Naa Shitɔbu
Naa Simaani Zoli
Naa Yakuba
Naa Zanjina
Naa Ziblim Bandamda

Drummers and drum chiefs
Abukari Kasuliyili  [Abukari Wumbee]
Adamʒee  (Issahaku)
Alhaji Adam (Alhassan Mangulana)
Mumuni  [Alhaji Mumuni Abdulai]
Namo-Naa Issahaku (Mahama)
Namo-Naa Mahama
Namɔɣu  [Namo-Naa]
Nanton Lun-Naa (Iddrisu)
Nyologu Lun-Naa Issahaku
Palo-Naa Issa
Palo-Naa Mumuni
Sunson Lun-Naa
Yakub’ Palo  (Yakubu Mumuni)
Yendi Sampahi-Naa
Zɔhi Sampahi-Naa Sheni
Zɔhi Taha-Naa Abdulai

Persons and elders
Alhaji Iddi (Yakubu)
Brigitta Benzing
David Tait
Emmanual F. Tamakloe
Fatima  (wife of Namo-Naa Issahaku)
Gukpe-Naa Iddi Kpɛma
Kissmal  (Ibrahim Hussein)
Maalam Halidu
Mapaɣkpɛma  [wife of Namo-Naa Mahama]
Mba Duɣu  [Iddi, before he became Gukpe-Naa Iddi]
Ollennu  [Naa Amaa Ollennu]
Wumbiepaɣa  [wife of Namo-Naa Mahama]
Yakubuʒee  [Harold A. Blair]

Musical and miscellaneous terms
Dagban’ doo
Doobɛdaani woɣa kpam
guinea fowl
Korle Bu Hospital
maalam, maalams
Samban’ luŋa
Ziblim and his brother Andani

Towns and places

Cultural groups
Dagbana, Dagbamba
Mamprusi, Mamprusis