A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter II-18:  The Guinea Fowl, Ramadan, and Chimsi Festivals  <PDF file>

The origins and celebration of the Kpini (Guinea Fowl) Festival; Ramadan/Konyuri Chuɣu (Mouth-tying month); why Dagbamba fast; difficulties and techniques of fasting; the work of drummers during Ramadan:  Asem and Bandamda at the chief’s house; the 26th day of the fast; the Eid' (Praying) Festival, the Samban’ luŋa in the Eid' Festival; the respect of drumming during the Ramadan; example:  a trip to Akosombo and how the drummers were respected; Chimsi (Sacrificing) Festival

Supplementary material

Paragraph outline and links
Proverbs and sayings
Dagbani words and other search terms

Supplementary material  <top of page>

Drum chiefs of major towns discussed in the text   <PDF>

Contents outline by paragraph  <top of page>

Guinea Fowl Festival

1.  Transition:  Naa Zanjina brought Islam to Dagbon; learned of Guinea Fowl fesitval
2.  the story:  guinea fowl refused to show Holy Prophet where there was water
3.  whipping a guinea fowl; slaughter, cook food and share
4.  drummers go to butchers; drum and get meat; beat Nakɔhi-waa
5.  no longer there because of chieftaincy dispute
6.  drummers sometimes go around to houses; some people eat chieftaincies

Ramadan fasting

7.  many talks
8.  people set a goal of fasting; how they fast
9.  how fasting started; Naa Zanjina learned fasting from maalams; the meaning of fasting
10.  importance of early morning food; people use different strategies
11.  different ways to break the fast; sickness; postponing the fast
12.  how women fast
13.  how Alhaji Ibrahim fasts
14.  problems of fasting; irritability from hunger; differences among people
15.  girlfriends cook food for boyfirends; part of courtship

Ending the fast:  Water-Drinking Festival

16.  on twenty-sixth day:  slaughter animal and share food; children go to houses singing; alms
17.  new moon:  happiness at end of month when new moon; alms
18.  Eid’ prayers gathering; general happiness; people who only pray during Ramadan

Drummers’ work during Ramadan

19.  during fast, drummers beat every evening at chief’s house; Samban’ luŋa when new moon breaks; go around to houses after general prayers
20.  Naa Zanjina’s time:  Limam to lead prayers at chief’s house during Ramadan
21.  Namo-Naa also led drummers to chief’s house
22.  beat Asam:  Gingaani when beaten during Ramadan; no dancing
23.  beat Bandamda on Thursdays and Sundays; no dancing; singing until midnight; Bandamda also only for women chiefs and tindanas
24.  Ramadan:  respect the chief with drumming and singing; young drummers learn

The drum chiefs and the chief’s house beating

25.  how Namo-Naa divides the drumming among the drum chiefs
26.  Yendi:  Namo-Naa for ten days; Sampahi-Naa for ten days; Namɔɣu-Lun-Naa, then Namɔɣu-Yiwɔɣu-Naa and Namɔɣu-Wulana
27.  how Yendi drum chiefs divide the days; shows their status
28.  not all drum chiefs beat; all earnings to senior chief to distribute
29.  example of Nanton:  different days for Maachɛndi and Lun-Naa
30.  how Savelugu drum chiefs divide the Ramadan beating
31.  how Nanton drum chiefs divide the Ramadan beating
32.  how Voggo drum chiefs divide the Ramadan beating
33.  how Kumbungu drum chiefs divide the Ramadan beating
34.  how Mion drum chiefs divide the Ramadan beating
35.  how Karaga drum chiefs divide the Ramadan beating
36.  how Gushegu drum chiefs divide the Ramadan beating
37.  the drum chiefs all have their standing places in the towns

The Samban’ luŋa

38.  when the new moon comes out, the chief sends a messenger; drum chief chooses drummers to sweep the compound and to sing the Samban’ luŋa
39.  Namo-Naa can choose to sing or not

Drumming for the general prayers; the respect of drumming in festivals

40.  the next day:  general prayers; Namo-Naa goes to the chief’s house to beat
41.  the chief and Namo-Naa ride horses to the prayers
42.  after the prayers, ride back to the chief’s house; Namo-Naa beats; Gingaani when chief dismounts
43.  dancing at the chief’s house
44.  how the drummers lead Namo-Naa home
45.  the next day, Namo-Naa and drummers greet the chief the new year; dancing at the chief’s house
46.  in towns, drummers enter houses to beat morning and afternoon; new year greetings
47.  how drummers go to other towns; the respect of drumming
48.  one can see the respect of drumming in festivals and traveling

Example:  traveling to another town during festival months

49.  Alhaji Ibrahim invited to bring drummers to Akosombo for Ramadan
50.  money sent for transportation
51.  how drummers protect their drums when traveling; spare parts
52.  how they were received; lodging and food
53.  going around to greet; receiving money
54.  arranging a Samban’ luŋa
55.  beating the Samban’ luŋa; their gifts
56.  drumming the next day
57.  farewell from Akosombo; how people praised their drumming
58.  the chieftaincy dispute:  Andani house woman asks for Andani drummers; chief agrees
59.  how the Dakpɛma drum chief consulted with Alhaji Ibrahim
60.  Dakpɛma drummers not well received at Akosombo; Akosombo chief writes Alhaji Ibrahim
61.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s return to Akosombo; well-received; the removal of Naa Mahamadu
62.  the Akosombo chief writes Alhaji Ibrahim; how they discussed the situation


63.  pilgrimage month; Samban’ luŋa beaten
64.  the festival from the Muslim religion
65.  sacrifice animals; story of Prophet Ibrahim
66.  a happy month; blessings of the sacrifices
67.  Chimsi month for pilgrimage to Mecca; a dangerous journey
68.  how the pilgrim’s friends and family welcome him back
69.  in Dagbon, celebrate with general prayers, Samban’ luŋa
70.  sacrifice of animals; sharing the meat; dress and go around to greet; drummers go to houses


71.  Buɣim follows Chimsi; festival talks join many other talks
72.  the talk of festivals has fallen well
73.  conclusion:  tomorrow’s talk

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Everybody has what his stomach wants.

If you don’t have the means, you can’t fast.

The problems of the Ramadan are too many.  It is just like holding a newborn baby:  you don’t know what it wants.

If you have the means to fast, it shows that you have health.

It is the maalams who say that God says that if you are sick, you don’t have to fast.

Hunger can’t stay with anything.  Whatever you are holding in your heart, if you are hungry, you heart will get up, and the hunger will let your heart throw that thing out.

God’s Holy Prophet started it and it is standing; God started it, and you should give to God.

If you are giving, you are giving to God, and if you are refusing, you are refusing God.

I have given you a gift, and you have to greet me.  After the fast, you have to come and greet me.

After satisfying yourself, what is left to do?  It is left with playing.

Whenever a drummer comes to beat in your house, it means you have respect: where a drummer is, there is always respect.

If a drummer is not in our living together in Dagbon here, then our prosperity will not go far.

Any work that people want to do in Dagbon, there must be the hand of a drummer inside it.  If our hand is not there, then the thing is not an important thing.

If living is not good and we are there, I think it will be good.

If something is sweet or not sweet and we are there, drumming will make it sweet.

If somebody knows us and we go to meet him, he will like us.  And if somebody doesn’t know us, and we play the drums and come and meet him, he will also like us.

We drummers say that as we are drummers, we thank God, because of the respect that God gave to drumming and so many people like it.

It is inside our greetings that we thank God for our lives.

I think there are many people in Dagbon who would like to be drummers, but as they are not born into the drums, they cannot be drummers.

The respect of drumming is what lets people want to be drummers.

The goodness of a person lets him get a gift.

A drum doesn’t want disturbance.

If two wives are in a house, and one cooks and the husband eats, it is good for the other wife to cook.

If you are a chief, you are holding people, both good people and bad people.

If somebody is eating with two hands, if sickness catches the two hands, what is that fellow going to do?

When a person holds people, they search for bad things for him.

If you buy a Gurunsi sheep and you are bringing it and it runs away, when it runs away it says that if it doesn’t know forward, it knows how to run backwards.

A dance which dances till daybreak always moves slowly.

A dance which dances till daybreak, you don’t have to dance it with strength.   If you dance it with strength, daybreak will come and you won’t be able to do anything again.

To go to Mecca is a sad journey, and at the same time it is a happy journey.

And the work we do is there, and it is still more, and it is still increasing.

It looks as if the talks I’ve talked, I have collected them from some people to come and talk.

All people will not like a person.

It is the mouth that talks, and it is the heart that is for something.

As my heart came and I talked these talks, it doesn’t look as if I talked it.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Yendi chiefs
Naa Garba
Naa Zanjina
Yaa-Naa Mahamadu

Chiefs and titled persons
Dakpema  (Dakpɛma)
Kuga-Naa  (Kuɣa-naa)
Mba Bunga  (Mba Buŋa)
Mba Dugu  (Mba Duɣu)
Mba Malle
Zohi-Naa  (Zɔhi-Naa)

Drum chiefs
Darikugu-Naa  (Darikuɣu-Naa)
Dugu-Lun-Naa  (Duɣu-Lun-Naa)
Dugu-Sampahi-Naa  (Duɣu-Sampahi-Naa)
Dugu-Taha-Naa  (Duɣu-Taha-Naa)
Dugu-Yiwogu-Naa  (Duɣu-Yiwɔɣu-Naa)
Logambalbo  (Loɣambalbo)
Maachendi  (Maachɛndi)
Maachendi-Wulana   (Maachɛndi-Wulana)
Namogu-Lun-Naa  (Namɔɣu-Lun-Naa)
Namogu-Wulana  (Namɔɣu-Wulana)
Namogu-Yiwogu-Naa  (Namɔɣu-Yiwɔɣu-Naa)
Nanton Lun-Naa
Yiwogu-Naa  (Yiwɔɣu-Naa)

Adam (Yendi drummer)
Akosombo Dagbamba chief
Alhassan (Ibrahim)
Fuseini Alhassan
Holy Prophet Muhammad
(Alhaji) Ibrahim (Abdulai)
Natogma (Naparo)  (Natɔɣma Naparo)
Prophet Ibrahim

Bugim  (Buɣim)
Konyuri Chugu  (Konyuri Chuɣu)
Mouth-tying month
Water-drinking month

Musical terms
gbingbara lunga  (gbiŋgbara luŋa)
gungong  (guŋgɔŋ)
Zhim Taai Kurugu  (Ʒim Taai Kurugu)
Kumyigsili  (Kunyiɣsili)
Naanzua biela yi ben, nyin’ zang ti ma na  (Naanzua biɛla yi beni, nyin’ zaŋ ti ma na)
Nagbiegu  (Naɣbiɛɣu)
Nakohi-waa  (Nakɔhi-waa)
Nantoo Nimdi
Samban’ lunga  (Samban’ luŋa)
Tiilaa, tiilaa, tiilaa, Naawuni Anabi n-zal’ li; Yaasiru n-zal’ li, tiilaa, tiilaa, tiilaa

Miscellaneous terms
Barika da salla
cedi, cedis
Damba Festival
Eid’ Festival
guinea fowl
Guinea Fowl Festival
Holy Qu’ran
maalam, maalams
pesewa, pesewas
Praying Festival
sagim  (saɣim)

Towns and places
Namogu  (Namɔɣu)

Cultural groups
Dagbana, Dagbamba