A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter II-28:  Madness   <PDF file>

Types of madness; how a family responds; treatment of madness by soothsayers, medicine men, and maalams; madness and craft-guilds

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

Contents outline by paragraph  <top of page>


1.    madness:  difficult to treat it, even for white doctors
2.    madness comes from God; Dagbamba have medicines to treat some and not others

Determining the treatment

3.    if cannot treat at home, go to soothsayer to find medicine man
4.    medicine man will send someone to look at mad person to see the type of madness
5.    medicine man will go to soothsayer to verify

Treatment at a medicine man’s house

6.    mad person goes to medicine man’s house for treatment; accompanied by young family member; begins to receive medicine to see its effect
7.    different types of medicine; young family person will go to bush to find the medicines; shaving; whipping; restraint
8.    family provides hens for sacrifice
9.    preparing the medicines; some for food, some for bathing
10.  if treatment is not working, go to soothsayer; find another medicine man for help


11.  more medicines; the recovery of the mad person
12.  how the mad person’s condition will improve
13.  of the improvement continues for about two months; hens and shaving; family takes mad person home along with more medicines
14.  happiness in the house on the return

Difficulties in treatment of some types of madness

15.  types of madness; quietness; whipping
16.  mad person who is dangerous is restrained with chains or handcuffs
17.  restraint from a box on legs
18.  if no change for months, and mad person might harm people, can use jɛrgili. a medicine to make the mad person a fool
19.  jɛrgili only for untreatable mad people who are dangerous; afterwards can be left unrestrained

Mad people who do not recover

20.  untreated mad people left to roam
21.  some wander, others stay near to home; fed by housepeople

Other treatments

22.  maalams also treat madness

Madness that comes from family or lineage

23.  madness sometimes comes from the housegods like Tilo or Jɛbuni
24.  madness among work lineages like drummers daughter’s children who don’t drum
25.  madness among those who hold “old talks”:  soothsayers, tindanas, butchers, barbers, blacksmiths
26.  old customs and family work; John’s inheritance of Lunʒɛɣu


27.  conclusion; transition to next section

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

One person does not see witch-fire.

Medicine is never one.

If strength should sit on a bone, whatever you do, the bone will break.

And so, when a talk is stronger than you, you will have to be patient.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Names and miscellaneous terms
alizini, alizinis [alizini, alizinnima]
Jebuni  (Jɛbuni)
jergili  (jɛrgili)
Lunzhegu  (Lunʒɛɣu)
Naa Luro
tindana, tindana

Cultural groups

Towns and places