Today we will continue with the talk about chiefs, and we will talk about how the princes are born and how they become chiefs. I will show you how a chief moves from a small chieftaincy up to something like a big chieftaincy. And then I will join it to talk about how a chief comes to stay in a town and how he lives with his elders and the townspeople.
As for the talk of how the princes move, I will take the Savelugu chieftaincy as an example. If the Savelugu chief gives birth to a child and the child is a boy, when the child grows up to about seven years or older, he will not stay with his father again. He will go to live with his junior father, that is, his father’s younger brother. If it is the Savelugu chief himself, he will give the child to the Nyoglo-Naa. Yesterday I told you that this Nyoglo-Naa is a small chief whose chieftaincy is under Savelugu. The Nyoglo chief looks after the children of the Savelugu chief. Let’s say it’s the first-born son of the Savelugu chief: we call the first-born or senior son the zuu. This child will live with the Nyoglo chief up to the time he grows up. If this child wants to find a wife, the Nyoglo-Naa will find the wife for him. When he gets the woman, he will send a messenger to the Savelugu chief that he has found a woman for their bachelor. And the Savelugu chief will say, “All right. I have heard, and I thank you.” And the messenger will reply for the Nyoglo-Naa and will say, “Am I having a child? It is your work to find a wife for him.” When the Savelugu chief hears this, he will go into his room and get some money and give it to the messenger to take to the Nyoglo-Naa, and the Savelugu chief will say, “This is what I have for him.” And they will take that money to go and greet the woman’s people. And the child will continue living there.
The time the child will come to Savelugu will be the time the Savelugu chief dies. Or if it is that the Savelugu chief catches sickness and they know that the sickness will kill him, that will be the time the first-born son will come to Savelugu. When he arrives, he will not live in the chief’s house. Every chief who eats chieftaincy has got a house for his young men, and the son will go and stay in the young men’s house, and he will stay there until his father dies. When the chief is going to die, they will get a hat which was the chief’s and give it to the son. And when the father is going to die, he will talk to the son, and the son will be holding the hat. And so in Dagbon here, if any chief is dying or dies, even a small chief, you will see his first-born son holding his hat. If you ask him, he will tell you that he is holding his father’s old talks in the hat.
If the chief dies, they will send a messenger to the Nyoglo-Naa and tell him, “Your senior son’s father has died.” At that time, the Nyoglo-Naa will get people, and they will come and enter the funeral. And the senior son will become the Gbɔŋlana, or regent. And you will see all the other children who are following the first-born son, they will all be following him to do certain things. There are some talks on the part of the funeral. As they follow him, there are some sendings he will send his brothers. And there are some talks he will send them to go and repair. As it will help all of them on the part of repairing the funeral, that is how they can sit down and gather and talk on how they are going to prepare for strangers when they are going to perform the funeral. This is how they are going to come together with one mouth. That is how it is.
And so if a chief doesn’t die, the first-born son will not come to his father’s house. It is just before the chief dies that the senior son will come out to the open. Even if any prince is a useless person, he will come when his father is dying. How much more will it be for the Gbɔŋlana? He will sit with his father’s hat until they get a new chief. As for the Gbɔŋlana, whatever happens, they will get a chieftaincy for him. If they don’t give his father’s chieftaincy to him, and if it is that some chief from another town comes to eat the father’s chieftaincy, then the Gbɔŋlana will eat the chieftaincy of the one who moved to eat the chieftaincy his father had. And so a first-born son is always praying that his father will die early, because if his father dies early, he will grow.
If the first-born son grows quickly, then the son who follows him is called the zupali. And as the first-born son has eaten chieftaincy, this zupali now stands that he is the son of a chief. He is remaining, and he will remain like that until the time that God also gives him chieftaincy. And so he is looking for kindness from every chief. Somebody like the Tolon-Naa, the Savelugu chief’s zupali can be going to greet the Tolon-Naa. If the Karaga chief is there, this zupali can be going to greet him. He can be going to greet the Mionlana too, or any chief. This zupali’s reason for greeting them is in case some chieftaincy falls. If a chieftaincy falls and they are going to go to consult the Yendi chief himself, this prince is not going to go to the Yendi chief himself. He will go to meet somebody like the Tolon-Naa or the Karaga-Naa or the Mionlana and say, “I want you to go and ask for this chieftaincy for me.” If it is the Tolon-Naa, he has been greeting the Tolon-Naa for a long time and he is not a new person to the Tolon-Naa. When he talks to the Tolon-Naa, the Tolon-Naa will get a messenger to send to the Yaa-Naa to say that he wants to beg for this chieftaincy for this man. And the Yaa-Naa will talk, “All right. If God permits, I will give it to you, and you will give it to him.” And you know, this zupali was also greeting the Karaga chief, and when the chieftaincy falls, he will go to the Karaga chief and tell him the same thing. And the Karaga-Naa also has a way to send a messenger to the Yaa-Naa to say, “I want this chieftaincy to be given to this man.” And so this is the second person to tell the Yaa-Naa about the chieftaincy, and the Yaa-Naa will know that the person they are asking the chieftaincy for is a good person. And the zupali will also go and greet the Mionlana and remind him of what he wants, and the Mionlana will also send a messenger to the Yaa-Naa to say, “You should give this man the chieftaincy he is looking for.” And by that time, the Yaa-Naa will say, “I think that this man may be somebody who can hold a town.” And so this is how the zupali’s turn will come, and they will give the chieftaincy to him.
The rest of the children following him, their eyes are getting open, and they will also be struggling to get chieftaincy to eat. If they are many, they will divide into two groups. The first group will go to stay with the first son, and those remaining will go to stay with the second son. When they divide themselves like this, the eldest one in each group will be the leader, and they will be struggling to get their leader chieftaincy. Let’s say there are about three princes who are looking to get a certain chieftaincy that falls. Sometimes it happens like that. How do they look for it? They have trust in one another. Sometimes they don’t have trust in one another, but where there is trust, they will all agree to make one mouth, and they will say, “We should all look for it. Whoever gets it, it is good.” And so if any of them happens to get the chieftaincy, it doesn’t matter. The remaining children will divide themselves again, and a group will go to stay with the one who just ate the chieftaincy. And so the princes who have one mouth, if one of them gets, those remaining will all come together and follow him. And they will be begging God that God should bring their own chieftaincies out. And this is how they will be looking for chieftaincy.
Sometimes it happens that the princes will be looking for a certain chieftaincy, but they don’t have one mouth. They are all the children of one man, but they don’t have trust in one another. If you ask them why they are all challenging each other for one chieftaincy, they will tell you, “As for fresh milk, some is better than the other, but there is no difference in its whiteness.” It shows that among them, sometimes one will be fatter or richer than the others, but he is not more than them on the part of chieftaincy talks. And so they are all princes, and that is the reason why they are challenging each other. If one of them gets the chieftaincy, the rest will become annoyed, and you will see that there will be bad talks between them. And so if you see that a chief’s family has spoiled, this is what brought it. When you see one family and there are always quarrels, it is because some time ago they came together to find one chieftaincy, and one of them got it and left the others. They didn’t have one mouth to look for chieftaincy, and when one of them gets and leaves the others, the family will spoil because they will never trust one another again. And so this is what some of the princes are doing.
And what sometimes lets quarrels come among the princes is when they have different mothers. I will give you an example. You see how our Dagbon is spoiled now. We have the Abudu house and the Andani house, and these two groups are now enemies here. But they are the same family. It was Naa Yakuba who ate Yendi, and he gave birth to Naa Abdulai and gave birth to Naa Andani. And Naa Abdulai and Naa Andani had different mothers, but they had the same father because they were both children of Naa Yakuba. But the family has now separated. When Naa Andani’s mother gave birth to him, he was still small when she died, and he was the only person she gave birth to. Naa Andani was with Naa Abdulai’s mother, and he had no mother except Naa Abdulai’s mother. And inside our families, if you don’t have the same mother with someone, you will do bad to one another. And it was bad they were doing to one another until Naa Abdulai went and ate Yendi, and Naa Andani remained. Naa Abdulai’s mother suffered to hold Naa Andani when he was young, and when Naa Andani grew up, he had no one to challenge except Naa Abdulai. And Naa Abdulai told Naa Andani that he should stay back and take his time or he would spoil his line. And Naa Andani told him, “If the bush is grown plenty, it should not joke with fire.” It means that as he Naa Andani was the only person, he was fire, and so Naa Abdulai should not joke with him. And so they had the same father but different mothers; and they didn’t have one mouth and you see that their family spoiled. And this quarrel is still with us today.
And so how the princes move, its talk does not die, and no one can know it up to the end. Only God knows it, because not all the children of a chief can become a chief, and the one who gets chieftaincy is the one God likes. And so the way of princes has got a lot of talk. For example, what I have been telling you today, let’s take it that the first-born son was not able to eat his father’s chieftaincy. It can happen that the one who was the chief and died before this prince’s father ate the chieftaincy, sometimes some of that chief’s children are still alive. When that prince’s father dies, they may remove one of the children of the former chief and let that son eat the chieftaincy. And if they give the chieftaincy to the old chief’s children, they will look and try to put the Gbɔŋlana somewhere. If it is a big chief like the Savelugu chief, whatever happens, this is what they will do. And so what the princes will be doing up to the time they get their father’s chieftaincy, if the Gbɔŋlana does not get his father’s chieftaincy, they will let him go and eat the chieftaincy of the one who came and ate his father’s chieftaincy. It happens like that.
And so as for the big chiefs, if they don’t give the chieftaincy to the Gbɔŋlana, they will give him the chieftaincy of the one who came and ate. Or they will shift. As for the chieftaincies that Yaa-Naa’s children eat, if the Gbɔŋlana does not eat his father’s chieftaincy, he will get a different chieftaincy to eat. For example, if Savelugu falls and the Vo-Naa comes to eat Savelugu, they can let the Gbɔŋlana go and eat Voggo. If not that, maybe the Zangbalinlana or the Tibunlana will come and eat Voggo, and the Gbɔŋlana will go and eat the chieftaincy of the one who has eaten Voggo. And that is how they will shift and shift, and the Gbɔŋlana will get a chieftaincy. Sometimes they shift like that, and sometimes they don’t shift. The Zangbalin-Naa who last died, he was the first-born son of Savelugu-Naa Bofo. This Savelugu-Naa Bofo was blind, and if not that, he would have sat in Yendi. When Bofo died, Savelugu-Naa Gurigulo came and ate, and he was the father of Savelugu-Naa Abdulai who last died. He came from Banvim to eat Savelugu, and so it was a big jump. And when they shifted, Savelugu-Naa Bofo’s Gbɔŋlana got a chieftaincy, but he didn’t reach Savelugu. Have you seen? That is why I told you that a person cannot show our Dagbamba chieftaincy because its talks are so many. It is only the one God has given chieftaincy who becomes a chief.
But sometimes they refuse the chief’s son. And truly, it is the very small chieftaincies where it happens more. If it is small chieftaincy that falls, if a small chief dies, sometimes someone who is not a chief will come and eat the chieftaincy, and the son will not get any chieftaincy to eat. Why is it so? With the small chieftaincies in the villages, the chief who is over that village will give it to whomever he likes. Maybe the chief likes somebody who is not a chief; he will just tell him, “I have given this chieftaincy to you.” And as for the son, what chieftaincy will he eat? And so he will remain nothing. If his good luck does not come out, he will not become a chief. If he is not lucky, he won’t have any chief to succeed, and nobody will become a chief whom he can succeed. And so if a chieftaincy is given to somebody and the son is left like that, then he will remain like that. It was the big chief who liked the other person and gave the chieftaincy to him. And this prince will be praying to God that some chief will also like him and come to give him chieftaincy. That is how the small chiefs are. And truly, it sometimes even happens that they refuse that. Do you see Nyankpala? When the Nyankpala chief last died, they didn’t give any chieftaincy to the Gbɔŋlana. But as it is, the Nyankpala chieftaincy is a commoner’s chieftaincy, and I have told you that if the Yaa-Naa likes a person, he can give such a chieftaincy to him. Even Gurunsis eat the Nyankpala chieftaincy. And if it comes like that, and another chieftaincy has not fallen, then sometimes the Gbɔŋlana will not get a chieftaincy to eat. This is why I am showing you that a big chief can like somebody who is not from a chief’s family, and he can give the fellow chieftaincy. As that fellow has no way to eat chieftaincy, it doesn’t matter, because the chief who is controlling that chieftaincy can give it to him. And at that time, the Gbɔŋlana will be nothing.
And so that is why in Dagbon here, you may see somebody whose family is a chieftaincy family, but it will come to a time when he is not from a chieftaincy family again. He had a way or a right to eat chieftaincy but he didn’t get it to eat. And he gives birth to a child. Your father didn’t get chieftaincy to eat: how much less is it for you? The children this man gives birth to, if they also give birth to children, these children will also become like that. And by that time people will forget about their chieftaincy side. They have now become commoners. And so that is why commoners are many, but there is no one whose grandfathers were never chiefs before. As we are all sitting in Dagbon here, there is no one whose grandfather was never a chief. Anyone who speaks Dagbani is a chief’s son. Whether he is a drummer, or he is a blacksmith, or a barber, or a butcher, or a soothsayer, or a jinwara, or a gun-shooter, or a tindana: all of them, their forefathers are chiefs. But it is because their fathers didn’t reach the chieftaincy and their grandfathers and great-grandfathers didn’t reach it; and so their fires died on the way. And so an example of this is if you light a fire from somewhere to go and do something somewhere else, and on the way the fire dies. And when the fire dies on the way, that is it. Before you waste time to find fire and light yours again, you will suffer, and even the fire will not light. And so that is how our Dagbamba princes here are going with their chieftaincy.
If someone’s fire dies like that, maybe God will let him get money, and God will let his good friend to get the Yendi chieftaincy or some big chieftaincy. If this fellow’s grandfather or great-grandfather was a chief, and that chieftaincy falls, sometimes he will get his grandfather’s chieftaincy to eat. As I am sitting down, I am a drummer. And I am also a prince of Dalun and Singa. My grandfather didn’t eat chieftaincy. My grandfather’s father ate it. I told you that Singlana Aduna ate Singa and also ate Dalun, and he was holding both chieftaincies, and when he died, his junior brother Blemah ate Dalun. Singlana Aduna’s child was Sulemana, and this Sulemana gave birth to my mother. And so Singlana Aduna’s child was a man on my mother’s house side, and he didn’t eat it. And so let’s say I promise myself that I will eat the Singa chieftaincy or the Dalun chieftaincy. If I have money, I will be sending people to go and greet the Yaa-Naa. Going to about a month, I myself will get a day to go to the Yaa-Naa myself. By that time he will be asking, “This person who has been greeting me, is he not a drummer, and is he not a commoner? Why is he always greeting me? What does he want?” If someone happens to know how I came about, he can tell the Yaa-Naa. “He is a prince of Singa.” If Singa falls, and I go and see him, maybe he will give it to me. Yaa-Naa will tell me, “You have been greeting me for a long time now, and I have found out that you are a prince of Singa on your grandfather’s side. And now Singa has fallen. And so since you gave been greeting me, this is the amount for you to buy your grandfather’s chieftaincy.” And by then he will give it to me, and you will see my family coming up again. All my people who are old and young, they were thinking that our family has died from chieftaincy. And is it not coming to life now? That is how the chief’s princes are moving with their chieftaincy talks. These people will come to light their door again, and at the other side, these people’s door will die. That is how Dagbon is. And that is why no one can know all the talk of princes. The one God likes is the one who eats chieftaincy. Sometimes you will look at somebody and say that he will eat the chieftaincy, and truly he is somebody who is fit to eat chieftaincy. But he may not have money or he may not have a long life, and he will not get chieftaincy. And someone else will eat it. That is how it is.
Long ago, the big chiefs knew that this or that person was a prince, and if he didn’t have money to buy the chieftaincy, they could still give him the chieftaincy. They knew that even if they give a poor man chieftaincy, whatever happens, going to two years’ time he will be a rich man, because his own sub-villages will fall, and he will be selling the chieftaincies and getting money from it. And so in the olden days they used to follow the families and give chieftaincy, and even with that, there were some families whose door died. But now, if you don’t have money, you will not get chieftaincy. You will only be a prince but they will not give you chieftaincy. And so nowadays, if a prince is there and he wants to be a chief someday, he has to start finding money and keeping it down. And if the money is there, if your princehood is small, and if your father and your grandfather didn’t reach someplace but your forefathers reached it, they can give you that chieftaincy because of your money. But if you are going around begging or showing that you are a prince, truly you will never reach anywhere. If you don’t have money, you will not get any chieftaincy. And so that is how the princes are going.
In the olden days, they were not following money. They were following: “This chieftaincy has come to the door of this man.” That was how it was going, and that is the correct way. Here is an example. In the olden days, Nanton-Naa Musa gave birth to Nanton-Naa Mahami. The time Nanton-Naa Musa was there, he gave birth to many children, and some of them ate chieftaincy, and this Mahami came to get a small chieftaincy at a village called Nyamandu. He had no money, and he only had one wife. When Nanton-Naa Musa died, all of Mahami’s senior brothers were eating their father’s chieftaincy at Nanton, and when one of them came to die, then the brother who was following him came and ate. When the one before Mahami died, his younger brothers who were following him were there, and some of them had money and some had three or four wives, and they thought that as he had no money, he would not get the chieftaincy. And so Mahami’s junior brothers went behind his back to go to Yendi to look for the chieftaincy of Nanton. It was during the time of Naa Abdulai, and so it is only about a hundred years ago. And the Yaa-Naa asked them, “Don’t you people have a senior?” And they said, “Yes. We have a senior, but we don’t respect him.” And Naa Abdulai said, “Go back to your town. Don’t let people say I have broken your family. What chieftaincy is your senior now eating?” And they said, “He is now eating Nyamandu.” And Naa Abdulai let M’Ba Duɣu give him a child as a messenger, and the child put a spear under his arm, and Naa Abdulai said, “Go and tell the Nyamandu chief and call him, and say that a chieftaincy has come to him. Whether he has the money or he doesn’t have the money, he will eat it.” And Naa Abdulai gave the Nanton chieftaincy to Mahami, and his junior brothers who had run behind him came back to follow him, and the family became strong again. And so Naa Abdulai was following the right way, and that was how they were doing it in the olden days. And he knew that whatever happens, within some time, the new chief would sell some villages and be able to pay the money.
This is how our chieftaincy was going, but I can say that even from its starting, the Yendi chieftaincy was not following that. There are many people who want Yendi, and no one buys it, and it is not one person alone who gives it. If you want Yendi, from whom are you going to buy it? And so the Yendi chieftaincy follows the Yendi elders and the one God likes, and that is how it is. And the Yendi princes, not all of them can eat the Yendi chieftaincy. A Yaa-Naa may give birth to about ten princes, and how can these ten princes become Yaa-Naa? Maybe at least one of them will become the chief, or maybe two of them will eat the Yendi chieftaincy. And those who remain, some of them may become divisional chiefs or small chiefs. And those who remain will not become chiefs at all, and in the end their families will become commoners. And so every prince is begging God that God will like him and let him get chieftaincy. And that is how it is.
And in Dagbon here, if God likes a person and he eats chieftaincy, and he wants to live peacefully with the town people, when he arrives in this town, he will call the elders of the town: the Wulana, the Limam, the Kamo-Naa, and the Lun-Naa. If the town has got a Magaaʒia, he will call her. And the young men have got their chief we call Salchi Samaali. Salchi Samaali is Hausa language, and in Dagbani we call him Nachimba-Naa, or “young men’s chief.” It doesn’t matter, because you already know that we talk many Hausa talks. And so the chief will also call the Nachimba-Naa or Salchi Samaali. All of these people were already eating their chieftaincies before he came to the town. And when he calls them and they come and gather in the hall, he will tell them, “It is good that I have called you.” If it is that he is a divisional chief who has been given his chieftaincy by the Yaa-Naa, he will say, “My owner, the Yaa-Naa, the one who is for me and has control over me, he said that I should come and look after you. And he said I should hold you, and you will also hold me. And so these my eyes, they are open, but they don’t see. And these my ears are deaf. And these my legs are crippled. My eyes are you people; my ears are you people; my legs are you people. If my mouth opens and says something, you will have to do it.” This is the tongue the chief will take to speak to his people. When he eats his chieftaincy and arrives in the town, he has to tell them this.
After he says this to them, they will also get up and tell the Wulana, “As the chief has said we should hold him and he will also hold us, we don’t have the way to hold him. And so we commoners, we don’t have any power to hold him; but as he has said we should hold him, then we are now holding his everything. And so we have heard all that he has talked.” And so after this, the chief will know that he can sit in the town and hold the people.
And then these people will go and call all their followers and tell them what the chief said. And the people the chief will get easily are the young men. These young men, they are the ones about twenty, thirty, or forty years old and up. Anytime there is a funeral or a wedding or a naming or any festival celebration, you see them sitting at a special place while the elders are at another place, and they will put on many fine smocks and clothes and be sitting. And they will choose someone about the age of fifty or sixty years to be their leader, or elder. And so this is Salchi Samaali or Nachimba-Naa, and he is the elder of the young men. They choose an older person because they think that he can go someplace and talk to the other people so that they will hear. And so somebody who is staying with the young men, and it looks as if he has more sense or can talk more sensibly than they, then he will be their leader.
I’ll give you an example. As we are beating the drums, there are people who are older than I: Alhaji Adam is my elder and he is there, and he is the leader of the drummers; Lun-Zoo-Naa Abukari who last died, he was my elder and he was there, and he was also the leader of the drummers. But you see that if we beat drums and come, I am the one who shares the money; and if somebody wants drummers to do something, he will send cola to my house. And so this is just an example of how Salchi Samaali stands with the young men of the town; if it is anything, he is the one they go to, and he also has control over them. Salchi Samaali will call the young men and tell them, “This is what the chief has said to me. The chief said we should hold him. And I said we cannot hold him; unless God holds him before we can also help. And so it is God who makes the chief well, and the chief will make the commoner well.” And when he says this, all the young men will hear and understand what he means.
The Magaaʒia is the leader of the women in the town. She is standing in the same position with the women as Salchi Samaali is standing with the men. When she comes out of the chief’s house, she will call all the women except the princesses and tell them what the chief said. And they will understand and agree with her. Lun-Naa is the elder of the drummers, and he will call all his children and tell them what the chief said. Kamo-Naa is the leader of the Kambonsi; these Kambonsi are the soldiers of Dagbon, those who shoot the guns. And Kamo-Naa will call all the Kambonsi children and tell them the same thing. Limam will also call all the maalams and tell them. And so all these people the chief talked to, if they also call their people and talk to them, then after that, whatever the chief says at any time, it will stand.
As for the tindana, the chief has already seen him before he arrived in the town. The time the chief started eating the chieftaincy, when they gave him the chieftaincy, he was still at Yendi. And so when he gets the chieftaincy, he will send messengers to the tindana, and the chief will get things and send to the tindana so that the tindana will make the sacrifices he is going to sacrifice before the chief arrives in the town. And so as for the tindana, the chief sees him first. And so this is how it is. The chief cannot sacrifice to the god of the town by himself, because the chief is there and the tindana is also there. The tindana is for something that is in the ground, and it’s hidden, and the tindana is a child of the town. And so as for the chief, he will just search for everything for the tindana.
These tindanas, their talks are many, and I don’t want to join their talks today and mix it with the talk of the chiefs. But I can tell you that there are some chiefs who are like tindanas, and they also make sacrifices to the gods of the land. Do you see the Gulkpe-Naa? If he is at his town, Gulkpeogu, he sacrifices to some of the god there. But there is a Gulkpeogu tindana here. That is how it is. Do you see the Tolon-Naa? The Tolon-Naa is a town’s child: he is from the town and he is eating the town’s chieftaincy. And so he is also a tindana. As the tindana is also there, the Tolon-Naa gets things and gives them to the tindana, and there are also some gods which the Tolon-Naa will sit with the tindana to repair. And there are some chiefs who are not tindanas, because such a chief is a stranger in the town, and such a chief will get things and give to the tindana, and the tindana will go and make the sacrifice for him. Have you heard? Even the places where the tindana himself searches for things to repair the sacrifice to the god are there. As for the talks of the gods, it’s not all chiefs who know their talks. It is the tindana who knows. Every town has its gods, and they have different ways. They make the sacrifice every year, and there are some gods again that will show that they want the sacrifice. And so these gods, they have one name — gods — but they are not the same. Things look like each other, but they are not the same. Everywhere has its own way. This is how it is.
Sometimes the chief will arrive in the town before they make the sacrifice. And there are some gods, the chief and the tindana will go together to make the sacrifice. Sometimes the tindana will come to the chief and say, “Chief, get such-and-such a thing, and I will go and repair the god.” It can happen that a chief will come and eat in a town, and his body will not be cool. He will be going to soothsayers, and these soothsayers will tell him, “You are not repairing the lands. The lands say you have not repaired them. And so as for that, you will get the hens and say what you want: ‘This town’s gods, I don’t know our gods, and I don’t know what I have eaten. And so I want to beg you, and you will give me good sleep.’ And you will go and give the hens to the tindana, and he will go and repair the gods.” And so the tindana has got his part to play with the chief, but they don’t usually do their things in gatherings. And so when a chief arrives in a town, he does not call the tindana to mix with the other people. And often the tindana doesn’t stay in the town itself but will be staying in a village near the town. And there are certain days the tindana will not go to the chief’s house. But the chief will always be sending messengers to greet the tindana. And that is the tindana’s way, and this is what happens here.
But all the people whose names I called, if somebody eats the chieftaincy of a town, he has to meet with all of them. If he eats chieftaincy and arrives in the town and does not gather these people and talk to them, then whatever happens in the town, if the chief wants to take it and do work, these people I named will all hold themselves. And at that time the chief will have no way to ask anybody. You see the Wulana: the Wulana is the senior elder of the chief; it is the Wulana who is supposed to say, “This is what the chief has said.” But here is the case: the chief arrived, and he didn’t say anything to the Wulana. It shows that the chief has not given respect to the Wulana. And so a Dagbana man who eats chieftaincy and arrives in the town has to assemble these people in the hall before he can hold them. If he doesn’t do that, he will become a useless chief. And so, to hold chieftaincy so that it will be sweet for you the chief and sweet for the people of the town, this is what you must do in Dagbon. If a chief does this, immediately he opens his mouth and says, “I want the whole town to come and help do this work for me,” they will all be running following one another to the chief’s house.
Sometimes there will be no roads or paths leading from one town to another. It is the work of the chief to say this and call all the townspeople to come and make the path. And so when he calls them to do that, they will not become annoyed; they will all come out. You see the hall of the chief’s house: it is the Kamo-Naa and his followers who build it. If they build a big hall, they also have to roof it. If the chief is living with a white heart with the Kamo-Naa and his followers, any time he asks them to come and build the hall, they will come very quickly.
When these people finish building the hall, then it is left with plastering the walls; and this plastering is the work of the Magaaʒia and her followers. If they finish the plastering and they are going to make the floor inside the compound, it is the work of the Magaaʒia again. If she is not happy with the chief, she will never go to do the work. If the chief doesn’t give respect to her, she will not take it that he is a chief, and so she will not go for the work.
If somebody dies in the town, the chief does not go to all funerals, and so he has a way to send the Wulana and his followers to go to the funeral. But if the chief does not respect the Wulana and his followers, they will not go. You see the Limam and his followers: if something bad is coming to the town, let’s say a disease which comes to kill people or things which come to kill food crops in the farm, if the chief doesn’t give respect to the Limam, the Limam will not beg God to protect against all this. But if the chief gives respect to the Limam, before something bad will come to the town, the Limam will beg God to save the town.
If the chief gives respect to the Lun-Naa, any time the chief comes out from his house and says he is traveling to another town, Lun-Naa and his followers will come out quickly with their drums and be beating. But if the chief doesn’t give respect to the Lun-Naa, maybe the Lun-Naa alone will come out and no one else will follow him; if the Lun-Naa is not there, the chief will be walking, and no one will know he’s a chief. At that time, his chieftaincy is not there.
And so if a chief eats chieftaincy and he wants to be given respect and be liked by the people of the town, he has to give the chieftaincy he is eating to the people of the town. Why do I say that? He has to give respect to them. And at that time he can get their way of living. But if the chief says that he counted his money and bought the chieftaincy, the townspeople will say that he counted his money and bought the land but not the people. And so if he wants something, he must do it himself. And so chieftaincy is in the bone of a human being. If you eat chieftaincy and you have no sense, your townspeople will run away and leave you. If not that, you will not have any respect in the town. You will be calling yourself, “Chief, chief,” and no one will give you respect. It will come to a time when the people will call you “Chief,” and you will answer, “Yes.” If a chief should answer like that, there is no respect in his chieftaincy. They call a chief and he answers: how is it possible? Is the one calling him the chief, or is he the chief? And as we are sitting now, these are the sorts of chiefs who are holding us now, and there are many of them. I can say that among our chiefs, such chiefs are even more. And so chieftaincy is in the bone of the chief himself. Have you seen that? In the olden days, the chiefs were eating their chieftaincies in the correct way, but nowadays, the chiefs are not chiefs. If a chief doesn’t respect himself, no one will respect him. That is now some of our modern chiefs are. Such chiefs are eating chieftaincy, but Limam will not mind them, Lun-Naa will not mind them, Salchi Samaali will not mind them, Kamo-Naa will not mind them. These are the chiefs we call “I have not yet collected chieftaincy.”
And so this is how a chief will arrive in a town and see his elders, and if he is truly someone who can hold people, all the town will give him respect. If he has villages, all the people in his villages will also give him respect. And he will be holding the town and looking at the talks of the town. What is looking at the talks of the town? I told you that on Mondays and Fridays, we drummers will go to beat Punyiɣsili and wake the chief. As for that, it is there today and tomorrow, and the Monday and Friday greetings are the time when all the people of the town will come and greet the chief. If there is any talk on the part of the town, if it is on the part of roads or farming or sickness or anything, it is there that they will talk about it. It’s not that no one goes to see the chief on the other days. If there is something, you can go to the chief’s house. But on the part of the chief’s holding the town, the Mondays and Fridays are the days we normally go to greet the chief.
As for our greetings in Dagbon here, they have got a lot of talk, and I have told you about that. And our talk of greetings have got something again. As for you white people, everybody knows that when you are going to greet somebody, you stand up and greet him. But in our Dagbon, anyone who greets will sit down to greet. Even on the part of our custom, if somebody is fit to be a person, and he is sitting in his house and you are coming to him, you will sit down to greet him. If you are just passing and going, and he is your elder, you will bend down or squat down and greet him, and you will get up and be going again. If not that, he will tell you, “Won’t you sit down? Or are you just passing?” And so if you are coming there, you will sit down to greet. And even anyone who is older than you, in this Dagbon here, you will lower yourself down to greet him.
And how a chief is, even if you have lasted on earth for thousands of years and your beard is dragging the ground, you have to lower yourself down to greet the chief. Even if a chief is just about two feet tall and he is walking and meeting people on the way, everyone will get down to greet him. And it shows that there is nobody who is more than a chief. And so anyone they say “He’s a chief,” this is where he stands here. It’s just like people such as the prime ministers and the presidents. Even if you are the head of your department and all your workers respect you, if you come to meet the president or the prime minister, you will stand stiffly and salute. Even if you are older than the president by a thousand years, you will salute him. And so in Dagbon here, you can be an old man and a chief is younger than you, if you want to get a chieftaincy in your town or village, you will have to meet that chief before you will get. And so whatever the case, he is more than you, and you have to give him his respect. And so if a chief is walking outside, and he is passing, you can squat and greet and then get up and be going. There can be a chief, if you meet him outside, you will even sit down and greet him. And as for a woman, a woman will kneel down to greet in the chief’s house, and we drummers when we have our drums, we also kneel and greet and beat the drums. And so it is a woman and a drummer who kneel in the chief’s house. That is how it is.
And so we will talk about the greetings of chiefs and follow it, because the greeting of a chief is a big talk here. On Fridays and on Mondays, there are many people who will go to greet the chief. And as for greeting a chief, everyone has got the way he will greet. How the chief’s house is, if you are going to enter it, the first room for you to enter is the sitting hall, the zɔŋ. There is a door for those who are going to enter there, and from there, there is another way to pass to the compound of the chief’s house. As for the chief’s housepeople, they will have a door at the side of the sitting hall. But those who come from outside the chief’s house will come to the hall. If you come to greet the chief, and it is you alone who is coming, then you will see the Wulana first, and the Wulana will call the chief, and the chief will come to the hall and be sitting on skins in the hall. And so in the morning on the Mondays and Fridays, the first people who will come to greet the chief are the Wulana and his followers, and they will come and sit in the chief’s hall with the chief. If the people are many, sometimes the chief will sit outside. As for our chiefs, there are some chiefs who have many elders, and the Wulana is the first elder. How the Wulana is, the Wulana is the elder of the chief who is the spokesman of the chief, and he is just like the one the Ashantis call Okyeame, or linguist. Anything the chief says, the Wulana will say it for the people to hear. And anything anyone wants to say to the chief, he will say it first to the Wulana, and the Wulana will say it to the chief.
And so the Wulana and his followers will be the first people to greet the chief, and as the people are coming to greet, the Wulana will be talking, “So-and-so is greeting the chief” or “Chief is greeting so-and-so.” If the people are many, the Wulana will stand up to talk. As I say that the Wulana will be talking, it is not always that the Wulana himself will be the one talking. Among the elders, the one who is sensible, the one whose mouth is alive, he will get up to talk to the people. How they talk, if there is a talk that is bad, he will know how to make it good. Or if the chief wants to give someone a gift and it is small, he will know how he will talk and add, and it will be good and they will praise the chief. And so the elder who talks is the one who knows how to talk. It’s not that the Wulana has to do it, but the Wulana is the head of them. There can be a Wulana who doesn’t know how to talk. There can be somebody, when there is a gathering, they will ask that fellow to get up and talk, and he will see the crowd and he won’t be able to talk. How talking is, there can be somebody who knows all that we are talking now, and he even knows it more than I know it, but he cannot talk it. That is how it is. And so the one whose mouth is alive, he is the one who will talk.
As for the Wulana and his followers, every town has got the way the chief looks at his elders and the way a chief makes his elders. Inside somebody’s town, after the Wulana, there is Kpanalana, Kpihigi-Naa, Gushee-Naa, Kukɔlɔɣu, Yipiɛli-Naa, Kukuo-Naa, Yimahi-Naa, Tuya-Naa, Yiʒee-Naa, Gunda-Naa, Zoɣyuri-Naa. As for Zoɣyuri-Naa, he is the smallest of all the elders, and he is not senior to any elder: if they go to some place and they bring food, he cuts the food for people, and so he is the “food-cutter’s chief,” Zoɣyuri-Naa. And what I have counted, some town’s elders are not up to that, and some town’s are more. What I have counted, as for Voggo, it is there like that. Nanton has more: there are some elders of Nanton whose names are not here; such people had their towns, and their towns are not there again, and so they have become elders in the Nanton chief’s house. As for Yendi, I have already showed you the elders of Yendi, and even I didn’t count all of them. But in our Dagbon here, the three elders who are there more than the others are the Wulana, the Kpanalana, and the Kpihigi-Naa. How the Wulana is, even every village chief has his Wulana. You will go to a village and it has no Kpanalana, and it has no Kpihigi-Naa, but every village has got a Wulana. If a village chief has a Kpanalana, it would show that he has taken himself to be a big chief. But as for the Wulana, in every village he is there. Even a commoner has a Wulana, because you will hear people say, “This is so-and-so’s Wulana,” and they are showing that if you want to get something from that person, you will meet the one they have called his Wulana. And it’s not that that fellow is actually a Wulana, and they don’t call him “Wulana,” but his work looks like how a Wulana is. And so the Wulana is the head of all the elders.
If the Wulana arrives where the chief is sitting, he will sit on the ground a few feet away from the chief in front of the chief. And he will greet the chief, “Good morning.” And those people who are following the Wulana, they will also sit down and greet the chief, and the chief will also greet them. Then they will turn and be facing the same direction as the chief is facing. None of them will sit and be facing the chief. And so how the chief is sitting, the Wulana and his elders are sitting in front of him. And the Naazoonima — the chief’s friends, his messengers, the ones he sends — they are also sitting just in front of the chief. Nobody is facing the other.
And the chief has one thing, too. Those people who are sitting with the chief, if any person comes to greet the chief, and the chief also greets that person, all those sitting there will be clapping their hands. They will be clapping them slowly, and they will continue clapping their hands. The chief himself doesn’t clap his hands. Only the people greeting and the rest sitting there will be doing that. The Wulana and the elders will be clapping their hands, and as for the Naazoonima, they will be snapping their fingers: kpo, kpo, kpo.
And the chief has another thing. Inside our chieftaincy, if a chief is talking and he is talking twenty things, you will just be answering, “Chief, chief.” If he is talking truth, you will say “Chief.” If he is talking lies, you will say “Chief.” If he asks you, “Is so-and-so in the house?”, you can’t just tell him, “So-and-so is there.” You have to say, “Chief, he is there” or “Chief, he is not there” or “Chief, I don’t know” or “Chief, yes.” You have raised the chieftaincy, and that is how chieftaincy is. Truly, someone who doesn’t know, if the chief talks and the person just says “Yes,” the chief won’t mind because he knows that person doesn’t know. But there is no way like that. If you are going to talk something, and you don’t talk well, sometimes your talk will not do the work you want it to do. Our custom doesn’t show that you will just talk to the chief like that. But the one who doesn’t know, and he goes to the chief’s house, his talk does not worry the chief. For example, if you John go to the chief, whatever you do, they won’t blame you. Even if you find the chief’s fault, they won’t mind. They know that greeting the chief is not your work.
And after the Wulana, the Limam will be the next person to come and greet the chief. Whenever the Limam goes to the chief’s house, there is somebody who will follow him carrying a mat. When the Limam reaches the chief’s house, the chief will be sitting in the hall, and the Limam will enter. The Limam will hold his gown, and the fellow carrying the mat will spread it in front of the chief. The Limam will just be facing the chief straightforward. By that time, the Wulana will move sideways just a bit, leaving the face of the Limam so that the chief will be able to see him. When the mat is spread, before the Limam sits down, he will say, “May God bless the forefathers of the chief. May God bless the chief himself. May God let him get what he needs. May God give him health. May God repair his land for him. May God let him speak and the people of the town will hear. May God let the elders speak and the chief himself will listen to what they say. May God remove bad people from the town. May God not let the chief get a bad stranger.” After that, the Limam will read what we call Faatiya; it is the prayer at the beginning of the Holy Qu’ran. He is sitting while he is praying these prayers, and then he will go and kneel down and shake hands with the chief. At that time, the chief has been keeping cola in a kettle beside him, and he will remove the lid of the kettle, put his hand inside, pick some cola out of it, and give it to the Limam. The Limam will bring his two hands together to collect the cola, and he will bring the cola to his mouth, pick one cola nut and break it into his mouth. And he will move back and sit down again at his place, and he will be facing the chief. And the reason why the Limam sits facing the chief, it shows that if you come to see the health or to greet somebody about his health, you have to sit in front of him and be looking into his face.
After that, the Kamo-Naa will arrive. You know the Kamo-Naa. He is the leader of the Kambonsi, the soldiers of the chief. When the Kamo-Naa arrives, he will use a walking stick, and he will put it at his back with his arms hooked around it. He will not sit down to greet the chief. He will come and stand behind the chief, and he will use the walking stick to knock the ground, and he will say, “Chief, good morning.” And the chief will answer. The Kamo-Naa does not sit on the ground; he sits on a chair. And the people following the Kamo-Naa are there, and one of them will be carrying the chair of the Kamo-Naa. That fellow will put the chair down where the Kamo-Naa is standing, and the Kamo-Naa will sit down. And all the followers of the Kamo-Naa will come, and they all have children who will be carrying their chairs. Where the Kamo-Naa is going, the Achiri is following, and the Jahinfɔ, and the Kumahi, and the Montana, and the Nachin-Naa. This Nachin-Naa is not the same as Nachimba-Naa or Salchi Samaali: he is the child of the Kambonsis, and the small Kambonsis follow him, and so he is the Kambonsi’s young boys’ chief. And where the Kamo-Naa is sitting, the children will put down the chairs, and the Kamo-Naa’s followers will also sit. As these people are sitting at the back of the chief, do you know their reason for sitting in that way? It shows that it is the Kamo-Naa who protects the chief. And so if you are guarding somebody, you have to stand behind him and cover him. And when the Kamo-Naa arrives, the chief will also fetch cola from the kettle and give him. And again, usually the chief will also give him pito. And they will get small calabashes, and the children who were carrying the chairs of the Kamo-Naa’s followers will be fetching the pito into the small calabashes and be giving them, and the Kamo-Naa and his followers will be drinking.
After that, you will see the Lun-Naa and his followers arriving at the chief’s house. These chief drummers, like Lun-Naa and Sampahi-Naa and Taha-Naa, they sit near to the chief’s house, but none of them lives in the chief’s house. When they come, Lun-Naa is the chief of the drummers, and he and his people will sit at the right-hand side of the chief. And they will greet. Lun-Naa will be saying, “A lion’s child, a lion’s child. The owner of the trees and the grass. The owner of the sky and the ground. The child of the lion. You are for the flour and you are for the food and you are for the soup.” And Lun-Naa will sit down, and the chief will say that he is greeting Lun-Naa, and he will give him cola. Do you know why Lun-Naa sits at the right hand side of the chief? As for us drummers, anytime we go to greet the chief, we sit on the right hand side. If you are a drummer, you know that any time the chief puts his right hand into his pocket and removes something, you will be the first person to collect it before others. And so whenever you sit down, this is what you are thinking. Whatever the right hand brings out, you will get it first. And this is the reason we drummers have to be sitting at the right hand side. And truly, just because of the praises Lun-Naa has said, before Lun-Naa will go home that day, the chief will get a bundle of yams and a guinea fowl and give to Lun-Naa. And he will add money. If there are no yams, the chief will measure guinea corn and give it with the guinea fowl and the money, and say that Lun-Naa should take it and cook food.
After Lun-Naa has greeted and sat down, you will see Yidan’ Gunu coming. Yidan’ Gunu is the chief of the barbers, and he is the one shaving the chief. When he arrives and greets, the chief will give him cola. And he will sit at the back of the chief, but not far back, just by the armpit of the chief. He will be looking at the chief’s face. Sometimes he will continue looking at the chief’s face like that, and the chief will say, “Oh! Is my face dirty? Is my face dirty so that you can’t see me?” And that is why Yidan’ Gunu sits there, so that he can see the chief’s face. As for Yidan’ Gunu, he is also a Naazoo, a chief’s friend. At the chief’s house, he doesn’t clap his hands: he snaps his fingers, and so we say that he is a chief’s friend. That is how it is.
After Yidan’ Gunu, all the other elders of the chief will come and greet. Nakɔhi-Naa, the chief of the butchers, will also come and greet. So-Naa, the chief of the blacksmiths, will also come with his followers. These elders will also be sitting in front of the chief, but they are not sitting as close as the Lun-Naa is sitting.
And all the others who are coming to greet the chief will come and greet like the others, and the chief will be fetching cola and giving them. To the left of the chief, the princes of the town will be sitting. These princes are not the chief’s children. I have already told you that a chief’s child does not stay with him. Any of the chief’s own children who is with him, or any of the chief’s housechildren, will be sitting with the chief’s horse. And to the right of the chief and going, the townspeople will also be sitting. They are all coming to greet the chief and talk of the problems of the town.
And the villagers too will also come and greet at the chief’s house. They also come on Fridays and Mondays. The respect and the gifts they will give to the chief will be coming on these Fridays and Mondays. If these villagers arrive in the town, they have all the various entering houses where they will stay. And they all have their elder at the chief’s house, and every elder has the days when he will be taking his particular villagers to the chief’s house. Wulana has his villagers, and he has his days for taking those villagers to the chief and letting them greet the chief. Kpanalana too has his villagers, and for Kpihigi-Naa too it is the same. If this elder happens to be at the chief’s house already when these villagers arrive in the town, they will send a child. The child they send to call the elder cannot go there and just shout at him that strangers want him at home. The child will only come and stand by the one he wants, and just hide and tell him secretly, “Strangers want you.” At that time, you will see this elder getting up. He will go home quickly and greet these villagers, and these villagers will tell him everything, and say, “Such-and-such village’s chief said we should come to you, and you will take us to the chief, and we will greet the chief for him.”
If these villagers come to greet the chief, sometimes they will be carrying three or ten or twenty different bundles of yams and also a number of guinea fowls, and add money. And they will tell the elder everything they have and the money they have in their pocket. By then, the elder will say they should carry their loads on their heads, and they will go to the chief’s house. If their loads are many, sometimes the elder will remove some of the loads for himself and take the rest to the chief, because sometimes a chief will eat chieftaincy in a certain town and not know the number of sub-villages that town has. And if the elder leads the villagers to greet the chief, the chief will get cola and give it to the Wulana to give to these strangers. And the Wulana will get up and say, “Because of the good benefits of God for creating a chief, this is how your junior father has sent people to come and see how you are sleeping these days.” If it happens that the chief of these villagers is a big chief, the Wulana will say, “Your grandfather has sent people to come and see how you are sleeping these days. And he has sent this number of guinea fowls for you to cook your soup to be nice and for you to be eating. And he has sent yams too for you to be giving to the children to be roasting.” And the chief will say, “May God bless him,” and he will say to the villagers, “May God bless you.” And people will be clapping hands. And by then, the villagers will say goodbye, and they will go back to their village.
Any chief sitting down has small villages, and the way these small village chiefs come and greet the chief is also because they want to get the benefit of their town. If they are sitting in their villages and any talk comes, they have to come and consult the chief. If any bad talk comes, and they cannot hold it by themselves, they have to come and see the chief. He is the one holding them, and if they don’t come to tell him, whom are they going to tell? And so as they have been greeting him, if night time comes and anybody is not able to sleep, they have to come and tell the chief. As for that, it is true and it is standing. That is why a villager or a town person does not refuse going to greet the chief.
As the villagers have the elder they see to greet the chief, if day breaks and some trouble happens, that elder is the same person they will see to take them to the chief. When they go like that, it is the elder who will stand and talk to the chief. A villager cannot go to the chief’s house and start talking directly to the chief. And so when the villagers go and meet the elder in his house, they will take all the talks they are holding and tell the elder, and the elder will take them to the chief. They will all sit down, the elder will say, “Chief is greeting such-and-such people. Chief is greeting such-and-such people.” Then the chief will call them and give them cola. At that time, the elder will stand and tell the chief all that they have come to tell him. Then the chief will ask, “What the elder has come to say, is that the same thing as your problem?” If it is true, they will say, “Yes. That is our problem.” At that time, the chief will decide how he is going to repair it.
And so the kind of talks they bring, maybe they want to do something in their village, and they will bring it to the chief. If it is something like a road, or digging wells, they will come and tell the chief, “We want a road at our village, at such-and-such a place” or “We want a dam at such-and-such place.” The chief will take their mouth and talk to the government. If government wants, government people will go and measure the distance for the road. If it is a dam, those government people who are in charge of water problems will go to the town and see where the water should be. They will show the amount the villagers should find and the government will dig the dam for them. Then the villagers will see how much they can contribute. And they come again and tell the chief. If the problem is inside the town where the chief is sitting, the chief can gather his people and tell them that as for him, he is personally adding such-and-such an amount of money. But on the part of the villages, the chief will only help them by his strength to see the government. He will taking his strength to see the government. That is how it is.
And apart from that, as there are different kinds of problems, you cannot know what kind of problem the villagers will bring to the chief. Maybe in the night time, a witch will be worrying young men. In the olden days, when there were wild animals like leopards or lions catching human beings, they would come and tell the chief. As for problems like that, the villagers and the chief don’t waste time. If they come to tell him that a wild animal is disturbing them in their village, or witchcraft , or whatever, they won’t wait for Monday or Friday. That same day they will come and talk about their problem, and that same day the chief will start to look for ways to solve it. You won’t have a serious problem and you will wait up to Monday or Friday before you will go to the chief. Nobody will wait like that. And so as for bad talks, they don’t wait up to Monday. If somebody is not sleeping in his house, is he going to wait until Monday before he goes to chief’s house? If a villager does not sleep tonight, then at daybreak, he is going to run to where the chief is.
And so it is greetings that they take to the chief Monday and Friday. As for Monday and Friday, it is standing as white heart greetings at the chief’s house. And all the villagers around that particular town, this is how their housepeople will be bringing them to the chief’s house, and they will be greeting the chief with the number of guinea fowls and yams and the money they are bringing to the chief. It is by force that they will be bringing all these things to the chief. If not nowadays that things have spoiled, formerly the chiefs didn’t farm. Whenever a chief eats the chieftaincy of a town, it is the villagers who are going to be farming for the chief. If they are not making any farm for the chief, then they have to be carrying food from their own farms to give the chief. And truly, they will be doing both. They will farm for the chief, and they will also carry food from their farms to the chief. And so we Dagbamba, it is on our heads like that: any time you are going to the chief, you have to carry something. Sometimes people from the town or cities will come and greet the chief without anything, and it is that they themselves want to get something from the chief. But if you are a villager, they are telling you a lie: you can’t go to the chief without carrying anything. And even if the chief gives you something, you will fear, and you won’t collect it. And this is how it is. And sometimes, if a chief is sitting down and he has, say, twenty villages, he will use ten of the villages to be making farms for him, and the other ten villages will be sending yams and guinea corn and guinea fowls and other things to him any time they get crops on their farms. And every Monday or Friday, these people will be coming.
And if you are someone from that town and you are coming to greet the chief, if it is that you are not an elder of the chief’s compound and you are not the chief’s family, then when you are coming, you have to carry cola. And when I say that you carry cola, it’s not that you carry only the real cola. If you want, you can carry the real cola. And if you want, you will leave the real cola and you will carry money. When you get to the chief’s house, you will give the money to the Wulana to give to the chief, and you will say that the chief should use it to buy cola for the prayer kettle. And as for this, the people from the town do it. And so this is how we give respect to chieftaincy, and these are the greetings we give to the chief. Every Monday or Friday, those farming for the chief will be coming. And people from the town will be coming. And those I spoke of first, the ones who always come to greet the chief, they will also be coming. And so this is how we respect the chief.
Let me add you salt. If there is a gathering and the chief is giving cola, the Wulana, or as I was talking of the one whose mouth is alive, he will be saying, “The chief is greeting his junior father so-and-so,” or, “The chief is greeting his grandfather so-and-so to come and get cola.” He will be calling the elders like that, and they will go to the chief to collect. As the Wulana is telling the chief “your grandfather” or “your junior father,” you should know that these people are not the actual family of the chief. A chief doesn’t call another chief’s son his brother; he will call him his junior father — bapira. I am talking on the part of the divisional chiefs. Even if it is one man or one woman who gave birth to all of them, and they are all chief’s sons, they say “my junior father.” If they have a sister, they won’t call her “my sister”: they call her “my aunt,” that is, their pirba or father’s sister. And so inside chieftaincy, in Dagbon, no chief calls somebody his brother. Even if you eat chieftaincy and your senior brother is sitting down there at the chief’s house, the Wulana will say, “Chief is calling his bapira, his junior father.” It is your own brother he is calling like that. If your junior brother eats chieftaincy and comes to visit you, he won’t call you his senior brother. If you are called Alhassan, your brother will say that he is greeting “his junior father Alhassan”; if you are called Abilai, he’s going to say that “Chief is calling his junior father Abilai.” If you are the zuu, or the senior, of your father’s children, and any one of your brothers come to visit you, he will never call you his brother. It is only when all of you are princes that he will say, “This is my senior brother.” And you, too, you will call all of your junior brothers that they are your junior fathers. In the custom, that is its way.
And so this is how it is on the part of chieftaincy. If it is not “my junior father,” then it is “my grandfather.” And how a drummer is, any chief will call him “my grandfather.” It is because we have old talks. As the Yaa-Naa will say “My grandfather Namo-Naa,” I can tell you that even as I am sitting, as I am a drummer, the Yaa-Naa will call me “grandfather.” And again, the chief calls every tindana “my grandfather.” And again, those whom they call grandfather are those who are not going to eat any different chieftaincy again. The town where such a chief is sitting is where he will remain, and he won’t search for chieftaincy again. And so he is like a tindana. Even if it is Yendi, any chief who will not go out from his town again, the Yaa-Naa calls him “my grandfather”: “my grandfather Nanton-Naa,” “my grandfather Gushe-Naa,” “my grandfather Tolon-Naa,” “my grandfather Yelizolilana.” This is how he calls them, and adding Kuɣa-Naa, Gulkpe-Naa, and Sunson-Naa. And apart from that, truly, there are people the Yaa-Naa calls his senior father — Naa bakpɛma. Karaga-Naa, Savelugu-Naa, Demon-Naa, Kori-Naa: they are “senior father.” But apart of them, any chief who can search for chieftaincy again, the Yaa-Naa calls him “my junior father.” Mionlana, Vo-Naa, and the others: they are junior fathers. That is how it is.
And so when they gather to greet the chief, the Wulana will be calling the elders like that to come and collect cola, and they will go to the chief to collect the cola. But as for the Yaa-Naa’s house, it is different. There are some elders who will not go and collect cola: they will send the cola and give to them. Anyone the chief calls “senior father” or “grandfather,” they will send the cola to that person. Nanton-Naa doesn’t go to collect cola. Gushe-Naa doesn’t go to collect cola. Tolon-Naa doesn’t go to collect cola. Yelizolilana doesn’t go to collect cola. Sunson-Naa doesn’t go to collect cola. Gundo-Naa, too, and Kuɣa-Naa: they don’t go and collect cola. If not that, the only other person they will send cola to is the chief’s mother. Usually the chief’s mother and the chief don’t stay at the same place, but if it happens that there is a gathering and the chief’s mother comes, the chief will let them send cola to her. And so those whose chieftaincies are different, they are there. And those who eat other chieftaincies, those he calls junior fathers, they will go in front of him, squat down, and collect the cola. Those who are princes and they haven’t eaten any chieftaincy, the chief calls them junior fathers, and they go and squat down and collect cola. And apart from Gundo-Naa, any princess or any woman who is eating chieftaincy, the chief calls her Mpirba — “my aunt”: she has to come and squat down in front of the chief and collect the cola. This is how it is.
And so I am separating it for you, because it is only some people the chief will call “my grandfather.” It is just as example. In every town, those the chief calls his grandfather are there. As this town is sitting, the Gulkpe-Naa will call the Dakpɛma his grandfather. Any tindana who is around this town, like Yong tindana or Duuni tindana or Kakpaguyili tindana, the Gulkpe-Naa will call him “my grandfather.” And so if a tindana sends people to come to greet the chief, the Wulana will say, “Your grandfather is sending these people to come and see your health.” In Gulkpeogu here, this is how it is. But if it is on the part of those who are small chiefs, how the Wulana will talk to the chief, it will stand. You see the Choggo-Naa and the Wulshe-Naa: they are chiefs in this town, and they are like the senior children of the Gulkpe-Naa. The Vitin-Naa is there, and if the Vitin-Naa gets Choggo, he eats. The Gulkpe-Naa will not call them his grandfather; he can call them the way he wants. If the Vitin-Naa has sent his villagers to greet the Gulkpe-Naa, the Wulana can just call him by his chieftaincy and say, “The Vitin-Naa has sent to come and see how you slept, and he has sent such-and-such a thing to give to you to give your wives.” If the Wulana wants, he can say, “Your junior father the Vitin-Naa.” If he wants again, he won’t say “your junior father”; he can just say, “Your father the Vitin-Naa.” If he wants again, he can say, “Chief, your friend the Vitin-Naa has sent to see about your health.” Have you heard? All these talks, I have heard them, but the Gulkpe-Naa will not call the Vitin-Naa “my grandfather.” If the Vitin-Naa gets another chieftaincy, he wants it. And he is not a tindana. These villages that are under the Gulkpe-Naa, the Gulkpe-Naa is for them, and if the Wulana wants, he will say, “your son the Vitin-Naa” or “your son the Kanvili-Naa.” There is no fault. The talk the Wulana talks will stand. And so these small chiefs who are under the Gulkpe-Naa, this is how they are. And even some of them have their villages, and so if Choggo-Naa is sitting and they come to greet him, the Choggo Wulana will say, “Your junior father so-and-so has sent to come and see your health.” If he wants, he will only call the name of the chieftaincy or he will call the village chief his son. It doesn’t matter. Any name he takes to call that person, he is holding him, and if you are for somebody, you can take the name you want and give to him. It’s only that he won’t call him his brother. It is not inside chieftaincy like that.
And so this is the talk of how a prince eats chieftaincy and comes to hold a town. The chief who gives respect to the townspeople, they will all give him respect like that. And there will be one mouth in the town, and any talk that is coming to worry the town, it is the respect that they give one another that will let them have one mouth so that they will live together well. And any work that they will gather to do so that the town will prosper, they will do it. And that is how a chief will eat chieftaincy and come to live with the people of the town. That is how it is. And I think we have talked about the way of chiefs, and I will stop our talk here.
And tomorrow, I will continue this talk, and we will talk about how a town can have bad people, and how a case can come and the chief will judge the case.