II-22: Soothsayers and Diviners
of the soothsayers’ bag; testing of soothsayers; the work of soothsaying; other
types of diviners: the jinwarba; jinwarba divination
Paragraph outline and links
Proverbs and sayings
Dagbani words and other search terms
Image gallery: soothsayers
outline by paragraph
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1. soothsayers an old talk; beginning of talks on typical Dagbamba’s beliefs
How soothsaying catches a person
2. soothsaying inherited through mother’s house; new one caught by soothsayers
3. killing s bushbuck
4. killing a hyena alone
5. soothsayer’s bag is an “old thing”; people who refuse can die
6. even a maalam will receive a bag that “catches” him
7. similarity of inheritance through woman’s child to drummers, butchers, barbers
8. soothsayers from the typical Dagbamba; no starting from chieftaincy talks
Initiation of a soothsayer
9. how soothsayers gather when they catch a new soothsayer; pepper in the nose
10. teaching the new soothsayers to “see”; the baɣbihi
Consulting a soothsayer
11. many soothsayers in Dagbon; many people consult them
12. how one consults a soothsayer; example: treating sickness
13. payment; soothsayer cannot refuse to consult
14. good soothsayers are always busy looking into problems
Soothsayers and belief
15. people who go to soothsayers have belief in them
16. soothsayers’ name: don’t accept and don’t refuse
17. Alhaji Ibrahim stopped consulting soothsayers because of Muslim religion
18. Alhaji Ibrahim also stopped because can cause problems between friends
19. soothsayers not always correct; have to look into yourself to interpret
20. other diviners in Dagbon apart from soothsayers: maalams, cowries, sand
21. jinwarba look into fire; dance in fire
22. jinwarba in many towns and villages in Dagbon
How jina catches a person
23. jina begins as madness from dwarfs; follows father’s line and mother’s line
24. jina stays in the line; someone can marry into it
25. medicine to treat jina madness
26. example: hearing the voices of dwarfs conversing with a jinwara
27. Namo-Naa: jinwarba are mad people who have been treated
28. how the jina madness catches a person
The Jina dance and festival
29. the annual Jina dance
30. how the jinwarba dress; their walking sticks
31. how they dance in fire; how they see in the fire
32. their type of drum; their drumming not beaten outside
Jinwarba as diviners
33. jinwarba also look for people
34. jinwarba talk openly about people
35. some jinwarba look into lanterns, others into water
36. transition to next topic: tindanas
Proverbs and Sayings
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Knowledge is: everyone and what he knows at his place.
As he has died,
he has left something old.
He was holding an old thing, and it will be
good if someone gets the old thing to hold so that our bodies will be cool.
The talk that doesn’t finish, if you do it, it is something that is going to
be standing and waiting for you.
Baɣ’ bila di malimali ti paai tɔm.
The small soothsayer has eaten sweet things and has come to meet the bitter
The new soothsayer is going to ask for the health of the town.
The soothsayer’s mother consulted and left it for him.
should choose good things and leave bad things.
All of them cannot be
the same, because wisdom is not the same.
A soothsayer’s farm is not
The day is heavy.
Ŋum pa nir’ yɛlgu, di deei, di zaɣsi.
Someone who is not a person, when he talks, don’t accept it and don’t refuse it.
The person you stay with is the person you quarrel with.
people stay together, if they quarrel, they will come to talk again.
a soothsayer tells you something, you should also soothsay in your heart.
As for the one your eye sees, that one is true.
If you fear someone,
how can you ask that fellow how he works?
If you fear someone, you
cannot ask him about his work.
If you are doing work today and it
doesn’t help you, will you do that work tomorrow?
Key words for ASCII
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Bag’ Naa (Baɣ' Naa)
Naa Nyagsi (Naa Nyaɣsi)
Naa Shitobu (Naa Shitɔbu)
Naa Zhirli (Naa Ʒirli)
Nyolugu Lun-Naa Issahaku
Bag’ bila di malimali ti paai tom (Baɣ' bila di malimali ti paai tɔm)
Num pa nir’ yelgu, di dee di zagsi (Ŋum pa nir' yɛlgu, di deei
Towns and places
Bugim Festival (Buɣim Festival)