material <top of page>
The Dagbamba calendar and festival months:
Buɣim (Fire) [Muharram]
Kpini (Guinea Fowl)
Konyuri Chuɣu (Water-drinking Festival) [Eid’
Chimsi [Eid’ al-Adha]
Pan' Dola Yɛlga
outline by paragraph
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1. how drummers’ work follows different months, especially festival months
2. the talk of festivals joins the talks of greetings and chieftaincy; festivals’ respect follows chieftaincy
3. drummers go to chief’s house to announce the festival
4. summary of the work of drummers in different festivals
The Dagbamba calendar
5. no calendar of months until Naa Zanjina brought it
6. the twelve months and the festivals
7. follows Arabic lunar calendar; does not follow seasons
8. first month of the year; Fire Festival from Muslim religion; story of Prophet Nuhu and flood
9. festivals come from Muslim religion, but also are mixed with typical Dagbamba
10. Fire Festival month is very important to typical Dagbamba
11. throwing fire and reading Muslim talisman are two different aspects
Questions about the origins of the Fire Festival
12. drummers say Muslim origin; typical Dagbamba have adopted it
13. Ziong Lun-Naa’s talks or pre-Islamic presence; most drummers would disagree
14. typical Dagbamba stories confuse the issues
15. typical Dagbamba claim Buɣim for themselves; sacrifices to medicines; no evidence that tindanas ever did anything with fire
16. looking at different talks can obscure the truth; proverb about witches
17. even maalams can differ on Damba origins; Damba Festival collected by the chiefs
18. typical Dagbamba can appropriate customs; their ideas work for them; not an argument
19. origins of Muslim religion in Dagbon is also vague; mixing of customs
20. maalams are very important in Buɣim; prayers after throwing fire; tenth day readings; mixing
Appropriation of customs in festivals and community celebrations
21. example: Guinea Fowl Festival, Muslim origin but maalams don’t whip guinea fowls
22. example: Christmas from white people but celebrated seriously by Ashantis, Ewes, Gas
23. mixing and collecting customs is the way for every era of the past; Dagbamba collected the local gods when they came; Muslim brought the calendar and sense of history when Dagbamba did not even know months; evidence that Buɣim Festival from the Muslims
24. drummers support the Muslim origin of Buɣim; they don’t involve themselves to challenge ideas from typical Dagbamba
25. origins of drummers and drumming from Bizuŋ, but Bizuŋ got the drum from somewhere
26. story of Guruma origin of luŋa
27. anything someone has comes from somewhere; can add something of his own
28. example: Dagbamba perform Muslim weddings
29. example: Kusasis dancing Damba
30. example: Walas dancing Damba
31. example: Gonjas dancing Damba
32. Dagbamba also collect other traditions to be theirs; drummers are people who ask; more disciplined; different type of knowledge from typical Dagbamba
The Fire Festival month
33. no weddings or funerals the following month, so people do them during Buɣim
34. scheduling events during the Buɣim month
35. sometimes smaller chieftaincies installed before or on the festival day
36. typical Dagbamba “repair” medicines; sacrifices
The ninth day
37. Fire Festival day, children collect grasses and tie them; shea butter to make the a torch; give to uncle or grandfather, who gives gift of money and sometimes an animal to the child
38. cook food and share to other houses; put food on the walls of the house for dead people
Throwing the fire
39. in the evening, gather at chief’s house; Kambonsi with guns and bells; drummers; people wear traditional dress and carry cutlasses, axes, and knives; can engage quarrels
40. chief and Paani and elders make fire; drummers and flute players and Akarima; light torches and beat Ʒɛm; chief and followers throw torches and return to house
41. young men and women light torches; women remove skirts; how they dress and carry the torches
42. processions through town and to bush to throw the torches into trees; drumming and singing; the type of songs and drumming
43. settling grudges during procession; shake burning oil on others or use weapons
44. some people avoid the Fire Festival dangers; consult soothsayers before going; throw the fire outside the house
45. after throw the fire; return to dance in front of chief’s house; beating Ʒɛm, Baŋgumaŋa, and Pan’ dola yɛliga
46. maalams make walga medicine for people; walga in a pot at chief’s house; chief’s wives use branches to throw it on dancers; procession continues to houses of Limam, Kamo-Naa, and Wulana
47. people return to house and bathe “New Year’s water”; Kambonsis return to chief’s house and dance all night; Simpa and drumming, too
The tenth day
48. go around and greet the New Year; greetings everywhere; chiefs greet others; gifts and grandson money; some people shave “bad hair”
49. in morning, chief drummer gathers people at chief’s house; Limam says prayers; chief slaughters an animal; Limam unfolds sabli that predict the year and show sacrifices to perform
50. Buɣim is considered the first month and oldest month of the year
51. a bad month; no weddings, funerals, chieftaincies; drumming only beat for namings or at market; bad-luck month
52. maalams talks about bad days in Dambabilaa; different habits
53. Dagbamba take Wednesday to be a bad-luck day or good-luck day; especially fearful during Dambabilaa; waiting for Damba
and Sayings <top of page>
As for truth, it is just true.
Something that you have not heard, if you want to use your imagination and talk about it, sometimes you will put lies inside.
If you eat food in a house with a lot of witches, you will not know who killed you.
What you know about something depends on the one who is teaching you.
Maybe somebody will give you medicine and tell you its meaning, and somebody will give me and tell me another meaning. As it is, you have your medicine and I have my medicine: how are we going to quarrel?
If you are going to holding a talk, it is good if the talk is something you have actually learned.
In this our Dagbon, a Muslim will come out from the hands of a pagan, and a pagan will come out from the hands of a Muslim.
Whatever the Dagbamba are doing touches the maalams, and it doesn’t show that it’s from the Dagbamba and not the maalams.
If somebody tells you that as he is doing something, it is his, you don’t have to think that he is the actual person who started that thing.
It is good if you want to talk about something, you know what is holding that thing.
I want you to know that before you get something and take it to be yours, you will follow somebody to get it.
The one who is not strong always laughs at his abuse.
On the Fire Festival day, every dead person goes to his house, because the year has turned round to the new year.
“I am putting this food on these walls, and may God bless me to last until next year, and I will eat and put more.”
Those who are our elders say that the dead people eat it but we don’t see.
“After I throw this fire, may God bless me to meet next year’s festival.”
“We have kept long.”
When the Damba moon comes, it comes to meet playing.
words for ASCII searches <top of page>
Elders and titled persons
Chiefs of Yendi
Naa Nyagsi (Naa Nyaɣsi)
Names and people
Alhaji Adam (Alhassan)
Alhassan Kpema (Alhassan Kpɛma)
Holy Prophet Muhammad
Sang Sampahi-Naa Ibrahim Alhassan
Ziong Lun-Naa Issahaku
Calendar of months
Konyuri Chugu (Konyuri Chuɣu)
Dasambila nyu dam kuli, o yi tom pooi, ŋun’ lab’ doli (Dasambila nyu dam kuli, o yi tɔm pooi, ŋun’ lab’ doli)
lunga, lunsi (luŋa, lunsi)
Pan’ dola yeliga, saasaabo (Pan’ dola yɛliga, saasaabo)
Samban’ lunga (Samban’ luŋa)
Holy Qu’ ran
sabli largibu dali
Yuum Palli Dali
zab’ bieri (zab’ biɛri)
Towns and places