A Drummer's Testament
<Home page>

Chapter II-11:  The Chieftaincy of Naa Zanjina, the Light of Dagbon  <PDF file>

The contributions of Naa Zanjina to Dagbamba custom; Naa Zanjina’s youth and conversion to Islam; Naa Zanjina as the “light” of Dagbon; Naa Zanjina's Samban' luŋa; how Naa Zanjina got chieftaincy

Paragraph outline
Proverbs and sayings
Dagbani words and other search terms

Contents outline by paragraph  <top of page>

Introduction:  Naa Zanjina’s importance in the work

1.  Naa Zanjina’s chieftaincy  needs a chapter between the Gonja wars; popular Samban' luŋa topic

Yendi moved from Toma to Naya

2.  Yendi moved east to current location by Naa Tutuɣri; Gonja pressure
3.  other towns also moved; duplicate names in eastern and western Dagbon

Naa Zanjina’s significance in enlightening Dagbon

4.  Naa Zanjina opened the eyes of Dagbon; many innovations; great respect
5.  Naa Zanjina increased the respect of drumming:  festivals, funerals, greetings
6.  Naa Zanjina traveled and traded as a prince; brought Hausa maalams to teach Islam

Naa Zanjina’s works in the Samban' luŋa

7.  Dagbamba learned to Islamic prayer, festival celebrations
8.  Dagbamba learned new funeral customs to replace previous customs
9.  the funeral of Sabali Yɛri-Naa’s son at Sabali as an example
10.  drumming at funeral house; other funeral customs
11.  Naa Zanjina brought barbers; shaving funeral children; final funeral after some months; widows remarrying


12.  barbers from Hausa land; Yidan’ Gunu their chief
13.  shave heads of funeral children
14.  barbers cut facial scars; perform circumcision, medical procedures, surgeries

More of Naa Zanjina’s works in Dagbon

15.  Naa Zanjina introduced wearing cloths; introduced cotton seeds; brought Hausa weavers
16.  introduced wearing of cloth by women
17.  sandals for lepers; walking sticks for blind people
18.  Naa Zanjina brought many benefits; drummers sing of them in Samban' luŋa

Savelugu-Naa Puusamli

19.  Maalam Faliŋa a Hausa maalam; became chief of Savelugu; also known as Puusamli
20.  friend and helper of Naa Zanjina; settled at Zakpalisi; teacher
21.  helped Naa Zanjina and Naa Siɣli in fighting Gonjas

Puusamli and Naa Bimbiɛɣu

22.  Naa Bimbiɛɣu was Naa Zanjina’s son; afflicted with yaws; not received at Dagbamba towns
23.  welcomed by Maalam Faliŋa at Zakpalisi, who bathed and treated Naa Bimbiɛɣu’s sickness
24.  Naa Bimbiɛɣu told Naa Zanjina of Maalam Faliŋa’s good works
25.  after Naa Siɣli died, Naa Bimbiɛɣu became Yaa-Naa; gave Savelugu to Maalam Faliŋa; the meaning of Puusamli
26.  drummers praise Savelugu-Naa Puusamli as a son of Naa Bimbiɛɣu
27.  Puusamli’s talk inside Naa Zanjina, Naa Siɣli, Naa Bimbiɛɣu; how Samban' luŋa drummers move through his story

How Naa Zanjina gave respect and gifts to get chieftaincy

28.  Naa Zanjina bought money from Hausa land; cowrie shells
29.  respect of chieftaincy with gifts; not “buying” chieftaincy
30.  cannot be compared to modern bribery or politics

How Naa Zanjina got the Yendi chieftaincy in Samban' luŋa

31.  inside Samban' luŋa; contestation among Naa Tutuɣri’s children; also Naa Siɣli
32.  Naa Zanjina had been greeting Gushe-Naa; Gushe-Naa wanted Naa Zanjina; gave advice to Naa Zanjina to greet Yendi elders
33.  Gushe-Naa went to Yendi for funeral; remove grass
34.  disagreement among the brothers; all wanted the Yendi chieftaincy
35.  Yendi elders say to take the problem to Mamprusi chief to resolve
36.  Gushe-Naa’s plan for Naa Zanjina
37.  Naa Zanjina’s talks are complex and difficult for drummers; variations in Samban' luŋa

The contenders go to Mamprusi

38.  Dagbamba princes go to Mamprusi; have to wait
39.  Mamprusi chief receives the Dagbamba princes and elders
40.  the Dagbamba princes had greeted Mamprusi elders
41.  Mamprusi elders do not agree among the contenders
42.  Mamprusi chief’s solution:  princes will be judged by names they call for themselves

The Mamprusi elder and Gushe-Naa call names

43.  Mamprusi elder insults Gushe-Naa with a name that Gushe-Naa cannot respond to
44.  Gushe-Naa leaves gathering; Gushe-Naa discusses the name with a grandchild who had accompanied him
45.  the child tells Gushe-Naa a name to use to reply to the Mamprusi elder
46.  Gushe-Naa replies to Mamprusi elder

Dagbamba princes call their names

47.  Mamprusi chief asks the princes to call their names
48.  Yelizolilana Gurunmanchɛɣu calls his name and is rejected
49.  Sunson-Naa Timaani calls his name and is rejected
50.  Naa Zanjina’s four other senior brothers call their names and are rejected

Naa Zanjina and Naa Siɣli call their names and succeed

51.  Naa Zanjina hesitates to call his name; Mamprusi chief reveals his prior relationship to Naa Zanjina
52.  Naa Zanjina’s names
53.  Mamprusis interpret and accept his names and name him as Yaa-Naa
54.  Naa Siɣli calls his names; Mamprusi chief say he should follow Naa Zanjina
55.  the senior brothers are annoyed; renounce future interest in Yendi chieftaincy

Conclusion of Gushe-Naa story; Naa Zanjina returns to Dagbon

56.  Gushe-Naa has the child who advised him killed to prevent disgrace
57.  Naa Zanjina returned to Dagbon; stayed with maalams at Sabali

The arrangement behind the story among Gushe-Naa, Naa Zanjina, and the Mamprusi chief

58.  drummers talk about Naa Zanjina’s using sense or wisdom to become chief, not politics
59.  calling the names a zana mat to cover the arrangement; compare to chieftaincy chapters
60.  giving gifts in greeting is not bribery but showing respect; a tradition
61.  the calling of names was the means for Naa Zanjina to bypass his senior brothers

Interpretations of Naa Zanjina’s Samban' luŋa

62.  Naa Zanjina’s story:  the custom was misinterpreted in books and in committees of inquiry
63.  educated Dagbamba rely on books for justification
64.  example:  if soothsayers choose the Yaa-Naa, why go to Mamprusi
65.  example:  Mamprugulana did not establish the doors to Yendi as Mion, Karaga, Savelugu; Yaa-Naas after Naa Zanjina were from different towns
66.  example:  calling of names not used in any other historical situation
67.  Naa Zanjina the choice of the elders through greetings; the calling of names a way to cover their choice
68.  drummers and elders reluctant to talk about Dagbamba customs to outsiders
69.  John’s relationship to the drummers is based on drummers‘ knowledge; outsiders might reject it
70.  Mamprusi chief has no role in custom; junior brother to Yaa-Naa starting from Naa Gbewaa; same family, not an outsider; Naa Zanjina’s selection a unique event
71.  Mamprusi chief is inside the family; government committees are outsiders, unfit to be involved
72.  Alhaji Ibrahim takes ownership of this knowledge; no precedent for outsiders to determine chieftaincy


73.   transition to Naa Siɣli

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Naa Zanjina opened the eyes of Dagbon.

The respect of Naa Zanjina in Dagbon resembles the respect of drumming itself.

In Dagbon here, whatever you are doing, if you are doing it with the strength of chieftaincy, and you are standing with the chief to do it, you know that it will have respect.

We drummers call Naa Zanjina the light of Dagbon

Naa Zanjina lit a lantern and open the eyes of the Dagbamba.

“It’s something, and at the same time, it’s nothing.”

“Naa Zanjina is holding sense, and he is the one who can hold people, dead ones and live ones.”

“Naa Zanjina has made Dagbon fine.”

The debt of the stomach, you cannot pay all of it.
The debt of the stomach cannot be paid in full.

The rain that helps a tree to grow, that is the same rain that helps grass to grow.

If a child always greets elderly people, the elders will always support him.

The way you know that you will follow and get something, that is the way you have to follow.

To go to an elderly person, you can’t go empty-handed.

It is inside custom that you will give respect before you will get chieftaincy.

In the way of our custom, giving of gifts is not a bribe.

A human being’s tongue is a ladder to the heart, and this is what you have to climb before you can go inside the stomach.
A human tongue is the ladder that you can climb to go into the heart.

“If many children gather to do something, the seniors among them should do it before the juniors.”

Many birds can destroy a guinea corn farm.

They farm, and they sow.  And they don’t farm, and they don’t sow.

They will plant the guinea corn, and it will germinate, and it will grow, and it will give birth, and many birds will come and destroy it.  And I don’t go to farm to farm, and I don’t sow the guinea corn.  The birds should know what they are coming to destroy.

They have farmed, and sowed, and a partridge will come and spoil the place.  And if you don’t sow, the bird will come and see.  Unless somebody farms and sows, can the bird come to eat from the ground?  And so the many birds, they should come and eat.

A chisel can easily spoil iron.

If you have a skin rash, and you are hiding it from people, if it worries you for a long time, at one time you will have to bring it out and show it to elders.

They didn’t kill Timaani, and Timaani is easing himself.

He took tears and wore them on his neck like beads.  And he took a sneeze and used it to be a good luck.

As for him, he is only a child looking after a horse, and so how is he going to get the sense to call a name?

A child who has no sense to call a name, how can he get the sense to look for a chieftaincy?

He is a child who will always go to the bush and carry firewood home.

A chest that is wide can collect every kind of dresses.

Many kapok pods, hanging on the tree, can never know who is the elder.

They will gather many newborn babies, and they are all lying down, you can never look at them to know who is foolish among them.

An anvil stone will roll and never break.

The dog that comes and eases feces will come and collect his feces.

Tiny grains of millet will gather many chickens.

A good place for blacksmiths will gather many iron rods.

The cry of a lion will wake up every village.

A child whose hands are clean, he should be the one to skin an elder person’s goat, and he will take all the meat, and he will leave only the stomach and the liver to give to the elder.

He made it well:  he made it well for the grandfather, and he is going home alone.

A child who sits with elders will get sense.

This time we are sitting, everybody has left his talks to be following somebody’s talks.

Dagbamba have taken their custom and thrown it away.

If it were not for us drummers, and women, Dagbon would have been dead.

If somebody is looking for knowledge, it is because he wants to come and repair his house.

You repair your house before you go and repair outside.

Somebody can be there and he is not an old person, and they will take an old person’s name and call him, and he answers an old person’s answering.

I want to talk the truth and it will repair our Dagbon, and you can’t take lies and repair anything.

The eye and the nose are near one another, and the eye doesn’t cry and the nose will keep quiet.  As the eye is crying, the nose is also running.

If you don’t like somebody and he does any work, you won’t like that work.  If he is swimming, you will say he is putting dust on you.

Chieftaincy is older than government.

If you want to know the talks of Dagbon, throw away the government talks.

Somebody who looks here and looks there, he doesn’t catch a slave.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Naa Alaasani
Naa Andani
Naa Andani Jengbarga  (Naa Andani Jɛŋgbarga)
Naa Bimbiegu  (Naa Bimbiɛɣu)
Naa Garba
Naa Gbewaa
Naa Gungobli
Naa Jinli Bimbiegu  (Naa Jinli Bimbiɛɣu)
Naa Luro
Naa Saa Ziblim
Naa Shitobu  (Naa Shitɔbu)
Naa Sigli  (Naa Siɣli)
Naa Tutugri  (Naa Tutuɣri)
Naa Zagli  (Naa Zaɣli)
Naa Zanjina
Naa Ziblim Bandamda
Naa Ziblim Kulunku
Naa Zoli

Chieftaincies and titled persons:
Afa Falinga, Afa Falli  (Afa Faliŋa, Afa Falli)
Alibarka [Sabali Yeri-Naa zuu]  (Alibarka [Sabali Yɛri-Naa zuu])
Bimbila-Naa Nmantambu  (Bimbila-Naa Ŋmantambu)
Gbonlana  (Gbɔŋlana)
Goligolana Naapag’ Bangumanga  (Goligolana Naapaɣ’ Baŋgumaŋa)
Gundowarilana Tusua  (Gundowarilana Tusua)
Karagalana Beemoni
Kpogolana Benyahin  (Kpogolana Bɛnyahin)
Kuga-Naa  (Kuɣa-Naa)
Kuga-Naa Subee  (Kuɣa-Naa Subee)
Larabanglana Zanzhinzhegu  (Larabaŋlana Zanʒinʒɛɣu)
Maalam Falinga  (Maalam Faliŋa)
Mamprugulana Tohigu
Nakonlana Nunyugri  (Nakonlana Ŋunyuɣri)
Sabali Yeri-Naa Yaamusah  (Sabali Yɛri-Naa Yaamusah)
Sagdugulana  (Saɣduɣulana)
Savelugu-Naa Puusamli
Sunson-Naa Bugyilgu  (Sunson-Naa Buɣyilgu)
Sunson-Naa Timaani
Tundilana Jirigubamba
Warivilana Nmunyoo  (Warivilana Ŋmunyoo)
Yaa-Naa, Yaa-Naas
Yobtolana  (Yɔbtolana)
Yelizolilana Gurumanchegu  (Yelizolilana Gurumanchɛɣu)
Yidan’ Gunu
Yogtolana  (Yɔɣtolana)
Zakpalisilana Abudu
Zugulana Asachia

Drummers and drum chieftaincies:
Abukari Moro
Ibrahim Lunga  (Ibrahim Luŋa)
Mumuni (Abdulai)
Nyologu Lun-Naa Issahaku

Miscellaneous terms:
bibirituturi  ([Cochlospermum planchoniHook. f  (or C. tinctorium A. Rich. (Cochlospermaceae)]
buli chebu  (buli chɛbu)
cedi, cedis
Falinga Dabogulana  (Faliŋa Dabɔɣulana)
fari [Hausa]
guinea fowl
Holy Qur’an
jaga  (jaɣa)
maalam, maalams
puuni samli
Samban’ lunga  (Samban’ luŋa)
Setan’ kugli  (Setaŋ’ kuɣli)
zana mat

Towns and places:
Yaan’ Dabari
Yiwogu  (Yiwɔɣu)
Yogu  (Yɔɣu)
Zulogo Kpaliyogu  (Zuloɣo Kpaliyɔɣu)

Cultural groups:
Dagbana, Dagbamba
Gonja, Gonjas
Mamprusi, Mamprusis