A Drummer's Testament:   chapter outlines and links

Volume II Part 4:  Religion and Medicine

II-19:  The Dagbamba Belief in God

Belief in God is universal in Dagbon

1.  different types of religious practices in Dagbon
2.  all Dagbamba believe in God
3.  God as something that cannot be compared to anything

Reasons for believing in God

4.  human beings
5.  the way a baby is created
6.  any human work also depends on God
7.  any human work has its limitations; example:  going to the moon
8.  human works are small compared to God's works:  light, rivers, mountains
9.  rain
10  rain is more than irrigation; medicines cannot cause rain
11.  the sun and the moon and the earth

Why God hides His purpose

12.  mystery; sometimes God's works are unexpected and cannot be understood
13.  God prevents medicine from working and confounds plans
14.  God hides his plans because He wants humans to doubt themselves

God’s power with death

15.  human being cannot prevent death
16.  Dagbamba medicine to wake up dead body is not real
17.  human cannot do God’s work

Differences in the human condition

18.  a person’s good life or bad life is the will of God; wealth from God
19.  the differences in human condition for respect and belief in God
20.  the success or learning of children not in parent’s control; from God
21.  nothing is equal in the world; heat and cold, rain and drought

Belief in God and respect

22.  Dagbamba look at the world and accept the greatness of God
23.  belief and fear of God helps people respect one another; good or bad acts become destiny
24.  example:  how Dagbamba receive strangers
25.  example:  contrast to other tribes who do not give the same amount of respect

II-20:  The Muslim Religion in Dagbon

Introduction:  religious divisions in Dagbon

1.  many Dagbamba are Muslims; typical Dagbamba follow the gods; Christians are separate and more presence in South and Asante
2.  Prophet Muhammad more important than Prophet Issa; no trust of Christians but no argument
3.  Christian presence in Dagbon is increasing with typical non-Muslim Dagbamba in villages
4.  Muslim religion is increasing more; many young people learning to read Arabic
5.  Muslim religion has many talks; differences compared to drumming talks
6.  Muslim preachings have differences; Muslim groups; rely on Holy Qur’an and Hadith

How the Muslim religion came to Dagbon

7.  Naa Gbewaa not Muslim; list of chiefs who followed the gods; Naa Zanjina brought the Muslim religion

8.  first Muslims came during Naa Tutuɣri’s time; Wangara and Arab maalams were at Larabanga
9.  during Naa Zanjina’s time, Hausa maalams were in Mossi and Mamprusi; drummers show that Naa Zanjina traveled to Hausa land and learned to pray
10.  Islam attained significant presence under Naa Zanjina; Hausa maalams

Benefits of the Muslim religion

11.  the Holy Qur’an; Lahilori:  Muslim teachings on correct living

12.  the Muslim way of marrying and bringing a woman to one’s house
13.  the naming day of a child; gathering of friends and families; role of maalams
14.  the Ramadan fasting
15.  the pilgrimage to Mecca; some children attend university in Muslim countries
16.  the Muslim way of performing funerals with prayers
17.  slaughtering of animals
18.  giving alms and having pity for others
19.  the respect of Naa Zanjina for bringing Islam to Dagbon
20.  the benefits of Islam are uncountable; chieftaincy, marriage, slaughtering animals, not to eat pork or to drink, not to sacrifice to the buɣa, not to commit adultery
21.  Islam and maalams have role in many aspects of life

Learning to read

22.  a Muslim must be aware of God role in everything; should fear God by not doing bad things

23.  learning to read; Arabic school
24.  send children to a maalam to learn to read Arabic; difficult to older person to study and learn

Maalams’ work

25.  one who becomes learned in reading can become a maalam; benefits and gets respect

26.  praying is the work of maalams; prayers support and help people; maalams give advice
27.  maalams whose prayers are effective get followers and earnings; what makes a good maalam

Differences among Muslims

28.  long-term Muslim families; mainly Hausa maalams’ families; wives stay in house

29.  prayer is more important than reading
30.  someone who prays can know Muslim religion more than someone who reads
31.  no restrictions on entering Islam or learning to pray; no separation like Dagbamba occupations; anyone can join


32.  should clean oneself before praying; preparing one’s heart to pray

33.  the five prayers during the day; their names in Dagbon; also sit and add other prayers
34.  Zumma:  the Friday prayers
35.  festival prayers after Ramadan fast
36.  general prayers; importance of praying with others

Islam in Dagbon

37.  Dagbamba pray more than other groups in Ghana; difficult to know if more Dagbamba pray or follow the gods

38.  classifying Dagbamba Muslims:  those who pray, those who read; those who have full faith; those who prayer outnumber those who can read
39.  Nanton, Savelugu, Kumbungu:  prayers are more than readers; only few typical Dagbamba

Muslim towns and towns where many follow the gods of the land

40.  some Dagbamba who pray to gods of the land and family gods also pray Muslim prayers; not included as Muslims

41.  some towns have both those who pray and those who sacrifice to buɣa and baɣyuya; example: Tolon
42.  Tolon, Tampion, Galiwe, Karaga, Gushegu are god-towns; Tamale, Kumbungu, Savelugu, Nanton are Muslim towns

43.  in eastern Dagbon, many Konkombas who don’t pray; prayers are in the town and villagers are for the gods; Sunson, Gushegu, Piong, Sakpiegu, Demon, Kunkon
44.  Yelizoli townspeople pray, villagers are Konkombas; same with Korli and Wariboggo
45.  Kpatinga, Yamolkaraga, Gaa have more prayers
46.  Yendi townspeople pray; villagers are Konkombas and Kambonsi; not many Kambonsi pray, except in Diari
47.  Mion and its villages Kpabiya and Guunsi pray more; Sang and Salankpang pray; Zakpalisi prayers are fewer in number; Jimli and Tijo are for buɣa; Tugu has more who pray
48.  Tamale has more people who pray, but nearby villages are for the gods
49.  Nanton, Ziong, and Nantonkurugu people pray and many read
50.  Voggo and Jegbo pray, but not Kasuliyili; Lungbunga people pray; Diari people pray

Muslim elders and their origins and roles

51.  many Muslim elders; Limam, Naayimi, and Yɛri-Naa in many towns; Kamshe-Naa is senior, at Kamshegu; under Kamshe-Naa are Walga-Naa and Yidan Chim

52.  Yendi Muslim elders:  Yendi Limam, Yidan Kambara, Ʒeemoli, Yidan Moli, Yidan Korimoli, Yidan Tahamoli, Maalam Albarka, Yidan Asachia, Mandaha-Naa, Yidan Kaafa, Yidan Kaama
53.  Yɛri-Naa bathes dead bodies
54.  maalams from different places:  Kambara-Naa are Wangaras but originally Arabs; also Mossis
55.  most Muslim elders are Hausas; Kambara’s house and Mandaha-Naa are Wangaras; Yidan Moli, Ʒeemoli, Korimoli, Tahamoli are Mossis; Kamshe-Naa and others are Hausas
56.  Kamshe-Naa and starting of Kamshegu; senior Muslim elder
57.  people traveled in olden days; Naa Zanjina himself traveled; Hausa maalams the main influence


58.  transition to the talk of the pilgrimage to Mecca

II-21:  The Pilgrimage to Mecca


1.    Introduction:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s experience


2.    agents handle passports and foreign exchange
3.    how agents take bribes and deceive their clients
4.    how agents cheat the people who go on the pilgrimage
5.    example:  pilgrims pay different amounts for the same services
6.    example:  how Alhaji Ibrahim’s agent defrauded his clients for luggage costs
7.    example:  no one was able to recover the luggage money
8.    pilgrims have no strength or voice with agents; people who go should be aware
9.    the cheating continues in Mecca; need for money to see things; pilgrim must ignore it
10.  for those who are dropped from pilgrimage:  grief, shame, debt

Anticipating the dangers of the pilgrimage

11.  danger of dying; leave money for family; share property in case die on the trip
12.  possible to die at the Kaaba, at the stone throwing, at Medina

The trip from Ghana to Jidda

13.  at airport, Alhaji Ibrahim is robbed in the check-in line
14.  customs search for foreign exchange; hiding money in a water bottle
15.  farewell to families; waiting
16.  soldiers remove people from the plane
17.  worries during the flight
18.  the long, uncomfortable flight to Jidda
19.  thoughts during the flight


20.  disembarkation and immigration
21.  the customs area; Alhaji Ibrahim’s honey; the transition to the status of pilgrim
22.  students from Ghana help the pilgrims to find transport and lodging
23.  advice from the students about Jidda and the pilgrimage
24.  changing money
25.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s easy situation in Jidda


26.  traveling to Mecca
27.  arrival at lodging house in Mecca; houseowner Moro
28.  the charge for accommodations; some people refuse but later return
29.  other lodging charges for Ghanaian pilgrims
30.  services and transportation provided by the householder at their lodging
31.  advice and instructions on first visit to the Mosque
32.  going around the Kabba; tawaf; starting point of the pilgrimage
33.  Safa and Marwah
34.  return to the house; lodging arrangements
33.  eleven days in Mecca; further description of the Mosque and its dangers
34.  Alhaji Ibrahim finds money at the Mosque to replace the stolen money
35.  the luck of the found money; from God


36.  travel to Arafat
37.  description of Arafat and lodging
38.  the houseowner slaughters cows for his lodgers and prepares food
39.  the extent of some of the sacrifices at Arafat; reflections on the poverty of Ghanaian pilgrims
40.  lectures about Arafat and sermons
41.  climbing the mountain

Muzdalifah and Mina

42.  travel to Muzdalifah and Mina
43.  the three statues at Mina
44.  the dangers of the stone throwing
45.  return to the Mosque at Mecca; removing the harami, shaving
46.  return to Mina; three days
47.  sacrifice and fasting


48.  farewell to the Kaaba; travel to Medina
49.  why and how the pilgrims visit Medina
50.  finding lodging; assistance from a Zambarima man
51.  hesitation of some in Alhaji Ibrahim’s company
52.  description of the lodging house; anxiety about the charges
53.  the negotiation of the lodging charges
54.  the negotiations for visiting the sites in Medina
55.  the graves of the Holy Prophet and the Sheikhs
56.  the mosques of Medina; the Holy Prophet’s friend Hamzah

Return to Jidda

57.  no plane comes from Ghana; many pilgrims finish their money and have to manage by trading and begging
58.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s situation was better; ten days in Jidda

The return trip to Ghana

59.  carrying things from Jidda to Ghana; some overweight items are thrown away
60.  the overbooked plane; removing some passengers
61.  arrival at Tamale; soldiers confiscate the goods people brought back and extort money
62.  the corruption and cheating of Ghanaian soldiers under Acheampong
63.  complaints about the government’s seizing of goods

Arrival home

64.  the guarded happiness at first after the return
65.  people come to give greetings; gifts; zamzam water

Reflections on the pilgrimage

66.  the religious benefits; inspiration of seeing the places adds to religion
67.  the benefits of prayers at Mecca
68.  the blessings of helping others or friends go to Mecca, even strangers
69.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s conversation about being sent to Mecca by a friend
71.  Alhaji Ibrahim took John’s picture and talked about the friendship at Mecca; the friendly social atmosphere in Mecca
72.  praying for a friend and good thoughts about a friend
73.  how friendship and love extend through generations
74.  friendship and patience; Alhaji Ibrahim gives John the name “Patience gets everything”; the good names and bad names of patience
75.  the Hajj brings thoughts of happiness and pity; despite the Holy Prophet’s work, he still had to die
76.  people wish to return to Mecca to see more of the experience
77.  how Alhaji Ibrahim’s life has changed; the additional respect of being Alhaji
78.  conclusion of the talk

II-22:  Soothsayers and Diviners


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

II-23:  The Priests of the Land


1.    The gods and shrines (buɣa) of Dagbon; older than Muslim religion
2.    tindana:  person in charge of the shrine; “holds” the town

How tindanas inherit their position

3.    tindana’s succession varies:  sister’s son, first-born son, first-born daughter, alternates
4.    follow the family and the custom of the particular town
5.    how a tindana’s line can separate within a family to brother’s children or daughter’s children
6.    how a tindana’s line can separate to sister’s children; resemblance to other inheritance
7.    two doors:  alternation of woman as tindana with male tindana
8.    how the two doors can develop in the succession pattern
9.    how the two lines share the work of the tindana
10.  resemblance of succession pattern to the chieftaincies of Yaa-Naa’s daughters; examples
11.  example:  Kumbungu; some towns have more than one tindana; every town has its way

Comparison of tindanas and chiefs

12.  different from chiefs; don’t use money or respect to become a tindana; only follows family
13.  tindana does not leave a town to go to another town; makes sacrifices and “holds” the town with the chief
14.  chief is a stranger; war by Naa Shitɔbu and Naa Nyaɣsi to take over chieftaincy of the towns
15.  tindanas are older than chiefs; their lines do not mix
16.  chief also looks after the town
17.  chief and tindana respect one another; tindana is older, but chief is stonger
18.  example:  Gulkpe-Naa and land for building
19.  tindana knows the town because his family is from the town; works with the god

Becoming a tindana

20.  tindanas are “caught”; donkey tail symbol of chieftaincy
21.  succession is usually clear
22.  elders circle around new tindana and throw the tail; cannot refuse
23.  new tindana’s life changes at once; enters a room for training
24.  shave head; kpɛya powder on head; beat Ʒɛm; walk through market
25.  market people lock up their goods or tindana’s people collect it

Chieftaincies that resemble tindanas

26.  tindana in from the town and stays in the town; some chiefs also don’t leave the town
27.  chiefs who are like tindanas:  Gushegu, Kumbungu, Tolon, Gulkpeogu
28.  chiefs who do not leave the towns who are not tindanas:  Yelizoli, Nanton, Sunson; from Yaa-Naa’s line; started with Yelizolilana Gurumancheɣu, Nanton-Naa Musa, Sunson-Naa Timaani
29.  some chieftaincies of women’s children but not tindanas; strangers to the town
30.  Gushe-Naa, Tolon-Naa, Kumbun-Naa, Gulkpe-Naa are tindanas; many resemblances

Tamale chiefs

31.  formerly ruled by tindana, Wulshe-Naa and Choggo-Naa; Nyankpalalana and Banvimlana also in the area; Gulkpe-Naa and Dakpɛma were brought to Tamale
32.  Dakpɛma, the market chief,  brought by the Tamale tindana
33.  Dakpɛma given to Tamale tindana by Kumbun-Naa during Naa Yakuba’s time
34.  tindana gave Dakpɛma walking stick and donkey tail for authority
35.  Dakpɛma starting:  stayed in tindana’s house
36.  Gulkpe-Naa a tindana in his town near Yendi, but a stranger in Tamale

Samban’ luŋa story of Mionlana Mahami and Tindaan’ Ʒee

37.  tindanas returned to towns after Naa Nyaɣsi’s wars’ Samban’ luŋa example:  Mionlana Mahami, grandson of Naa Gungobli
38.  Sambuɣli:  god of Mion; new Mionlana must make sacrifice to it
39.  Tindaan’s Ʒee and Mion people refuse to allow Mionlana Mahami to make sacrifice
40.  tindana hides woman in pot to refuse the sacrifice
41.  Mionlana Mahami abused by child
42.  the child explains the situation and advises Mionlana Mahami
43.  Mionlana Mahami goes with force to make the sacrifice
44.  the tindana and townspeople explain their refusal
45.  Mionlana Mahami makes the sacrifice; refusing a new Mionlana is a custom
46.  story shows that the chief does not know a town or its god
47.  Muslim chiefs therefore sacrifice to the town’s god; Muslims do not make sacrifices


48.  talk of the gods relates to typical Dagbamba, not Muslims; next topic:  the main gods of Dagbon

II-24:  Gods and Shrines


1.    talk of the gods:  different gods; an old talk, with typical Dagbamba

Family gods

2.    household shrines:  Jɛbuni, Tilo, Wuni, Wumbee; sacrifices
3.    Wuni shrine is outside the house, Tilo and Jɛbuni in a room; relation to ancestors
4.    sacrifice with goat
5.    house shrine is with family head; different ways to build it; different sacrifices

Family gods and Muslim religion

6.    Jɛbuni in Alhaji Ibrahim’s family; why he doesn’t follow it as a Muslim
7.    the gods are for non-Muslims; how Prophet Ibrahim broke the gods

Family gods and ancestors

8.    sacrifice and call the names of ancestors
9.    inherit the family gods; Tilo held by a woman
10.  bad dreams; image of dead ancestors lurking and looking at the family; beg ancestors
11.  differences from the sacrifices to placate dead chiefs at Samban’ luŋa; sacrifice an old family talk
12.  soothsayers help people understand problems and know the sacrifice needed
13.  annual sacrifice (repairing); millet pito for Tilo; different animals

Gods of the towns

14.  different gods have different ways or things they help

Pong Tamale

15.  Pong Tamale god is rain and lightning; works against thieves
16.  return to Pong Tamale when get stolen things back
17.  cannot keep the stolen things that are returned; must take them to Pong Tamale
18.  also witchcraft cases; how witches protect themselves against the god
19.  how witches make sacrifices to the god


20.  crocodile; at Diari and Singa
21.  also works against thieves and bad people; ask when on boat crossing the river
22.  some people refuse to answer and do not cross
23.  people from Singa and Dalun do not pay to cross
24.  how households go to Naawuni to find out about stealing; don’t use the boat
25.  in olden days, Naawuni killed many people
26.  receiver of stolen things is also at risk
27.  Naawuni also works against borrowers who don’t pay back
28.  Naawuni also judges witchcraft cases


29.  in Talensi land near Tongo; people from any tribe can go there; good for barrenness;
30.  have to get someone to lead you to the tindana; same for any tindana
31.  how Alhaji ibrahim’s mother went to Yabyili with eye disease
32.  examples of Yabyili’s work and strength
33.  Yabyili for every tribe; anyone can go to visit and beg any god

True gods and false gods

34.  Pong Tamale, Naawuni, and Yabyili are old
35.  Naabuɣli, a false god in Konkomba area
36.  how Naabuɣli was exposed for making a false charge


37.  Bunnyamaashe at Yapei; how Alhaji Ibrahim’s wife went there for barrenness
38.  the trip to Bunnyamaashe; meeting the tindana
39.  the interpretation of the sacrifice

Other gods

40.  Lansa at Chito in Gonja; barrenness
41.  Chema at Chema in Gonja; also barrenness
42.  how people give the appropriate sacrifice; the responsibility of the tindana


43.  Jaagbo at Tolon; a snake
44.  the signs when Jaagbo enters the town
45.  how they make the sacrifice to Jaagbo
46.  Jaagbo and barrenness
47.  special treatment for the children of a god

Tampion’s gods

48.  Zeyibu at Tampion; monitor lizard
49.  signs of Zeyibu for Tampionlana and Guma-Naa
50.  bees at the Tampion market; no market taxes collected

Yendi’s gods

51.  Gurugua; Pabo, a hyena; the signs of Pano
52.  the room at  Bagli for dead Yaa-Naas
53.  Kpala at Galiwe; also for Yaa-Naa; Naa Garba’s mother Laamihi; don’t burn the bush; similar god at Taha

Tamale’s gods

54.  many tindanas and gods; at Chaŋni and Tuutingli; Gurugbaya
55.  Kpalaŋga; area with kpalga trees; Dakpɛma’s responsibility
56.  the sacrifice to Kpalaŋga

Other gods

57.  also Tambo at Sang; Saambuɣli at Mion; the strongest gods are Naawuni, Pong Tamale, and Yabyili

II-25:  Medicine


1.    comparison to gods; the gods are like medicine in helping people
2.    gods can treat sickness
3.    God or gods do not solve all problems; people believe in what helps them

Examples of medicine

4.    person who struck a medicine man
5.    at Voggo, story of Shembila taking the wife of Kukuo-Naa
6.    conclusion of the story of Shembila and Kukuo-Naa

Belief in medicine

7.    why Alhaji Ibrahim doesn’t have  medicine
8.    people use medicine to protect themselves; jealousy against John
9.    need to fight for yourself in the world
10.  Alhaji Ibrahim only likes medicine that will help a person
11.  medicine works from belief and trust
12.  talk of medicine relates to typical Dagbamba; watchful for signs
13.  reading of signs resembles the talk of gods; not for Muslims
14.  example:  belief in circumstances and luck
15.  Muslims do not follow these beliefs

Getting medicine

16.  always begin with greetings to person with medicine
17.  types:  talisman, armband, waistband, powder, water
18.  annual sacrifices; often during Buɣim


19.  vanishing; removes a person from danger; types of liliga
20.  example:  person with liliga who vanished; it happens at once
21.  testing liliga when receive it; your heart must jump; liliga can refuse a person


22.  calling; in a horn; person will respond from wherever
23.  used by hunters to call animals
24.  used by drummers to get money or praise
25.  used to get women


26.  tying; prevents someone from doing things
27.  many types of kabrɛ; does bad work
28.  used by Gbɔŋlana to prevent quarrels at a chief’s funeral

Medicines for money

29.  lukuri; lukuri sabli; the money does not last
30.  compared to maalam’s medicine or prayers for money

Not to die

31.  a dead person continues to live; example:  Savelugu chief’s dead brother was met in another town
32.  example:  Gurunsi man at Voggo

Other medicines

33.  paɣali:  lost from sight
34.  tahinga:  shouting; its types; jumping medicine, bulimbuɣliŋga, mankubia; stick medicine (doli tim), knife medicine (sutili)
35.  chilo; medicine for seeing

Bukpahinima (wizards)

36.  catch and kill witches
37.  the drums used by the wizards
38.  how they use chilo
39.  chiefs also roam and catch witches; example:  Nanton-Naa Alaasambila

The ways of medicine

40.  medicine should not be in the open; no boasting
41.  even the person with medicine does not see its work
42.  people do not know who has medicine or not; only the medicine man knows its name
43.  storing medicine in a calabash
44.  medicine requires confidence; example:  maalam who disarmed a mad man

Maalam’s medicines

45.  maalams have all the same types; works more slowly but thoroughly
46.  example:  maalam who was abused by Savelugu-Naa Mahama Piɛɣu
47.  British removed the Savelugu-Naa
48.  maalams know the words of God; their  prayers are powerful
49.  maalam’s medicines:   walga, writings that are washed an drunk; sabli, writings put inside talisman
50.  muhima; medicine to make people like a person; types:  bɛ yum’ ma
51.  greetings to maalam with cola (money) for kerosene
52.  maalam’s medicines for drummers


53.  many different types and ways of medicine; this talk only about some of them

II-26:  Drummer's Medicines


1.    many drummers use medicine; some are bukpahinima; many medicine in the family
2.    John’s medicine from Alhaji Adam an old thing in Alhaji Adam’s family
3.    John now has that medicine’s name and can pass it on

Comparing medicine to learning Baŋgumaŋa

4.    medicine not given free; a sacrifice; medicine man can determine its extent
5.    cannot question the medicine man about the sacrifice; killing a sheep to learn Baŋgumaŋa
6.    the sheep’s meat shared inside the family; compare to the sacrifices done by Ziong Lun-Naa Issahaku and Alhassan Kpɛma
7.    the sacrifice must be there in some form
8.    the sacrifice or payment is respect from the one looking for medicine or knowledge

Drummer’s medicines

9.    Alhaji Ibrahim does not have medicine, but drum itself is medicine, can protect
10.  drummers have medicine to protect themselves; good medicines are also there

Alhaji Adam Mangulana and medicine

11.  Alhaji Adam has drummers’ medicines and maalams’ medicines; long life
12.  Dagbon’s oldest drummer; description of his greatness in his youth
13.  most of his friends are dead; his friend Palo-Naa still alive; the others are dead
14.  Alhaji Adam’s friend with warizuɣu medicine

How drummers use medicine against one another

15.  jealous drummers’ can use kabrɛ; Issa Maachɛndi’s brother
16.  Issa’s use of medicine for protection
17.  drummers use medicine to get drumming chieftaincy
18.  Tamale drummers do not have chieftaincy; not the same as other towns; many Tamale drummers do not have knowledge
19.  drummers use kabrɛ; protect themselves with muhili; bi tɔro kaŋkparambi to make somebody choke
20.  use of medicine against grave-diggers
21.  drummers use kabrɛ to tie another drummer who bluffs or who takes someone’s place at Samban’ luŋa
22.  example:  how Gulkpeogu Lun-Naa tied Duɣu Lun-Naa at Samban’ luŋa

Medicines to help drummers

23.  zambaŋa and zamban’ nuchee; quick hands like cat
34.  gaŋdu:  make drumming stand out; balgiri
35.  gaŋdu the senior medicine for drumming; has other types for respect
36.  how Alhaji Adam was loved because of medicine
37.  bɛ yum’ma also for drummers; paɣ’ di duɣi
38.  how gaŋdu helps drummers
39.  zambaŋa can make someone’s hand too fast
40.  Alhaji Ibrahim does not use medicine because his drumming is good; medicine already in the family; example:  his son Fatawu; also in Alhaji Mumuni’s house, no medicine
41.  many drummers do not use medicine
42.  medicine to give drummer stamina


43.  remembering; used by singers of Samban’ luŋa
44.  use of animals to make teeli
45.  how teeli is made
46.  how teeli is used; should be used for a reason


47.  end of talk about drummers’ medicine

II-27:  Diseases and Medicine

Transition:  medicines of belief versus real medicine

1.  medicines that treat people who are not well; compared to doctor
2.  sickness and death are fearful topics
3.  Dagbamba ways of treating sickness is different from developed countries
4.  bad medicines can give people sickness; good medicine treats same sickness; example:  anthrax
5.  example:  leprosy; medicine can give someone leprosy; medicines treat it
6.  poisoning; can give such medicine in food
7.  witchcraft can be countered by medicine
8.  “woman coughing” and its medicine
9.  people who are killed by sickness from medicine or witchcraft; typical Dagbamba give different type of funeral
10.  people pray for protection against sickness; medicine also can protect against bad medicine
11.  someone with real medicine is important; all go to someone with medicine

How people get medicine

12.  sickness has many types; every sickness has medicine
13.  in olden days, Dagbamba learned to use medicine from trees and herbs
14.  can go to medicine man to learn; need to know trees
15.  protocols of getting medicine man to teach about medicines
16.  medicine is secretive; not bought with money; not kept; some people deny they have it
17.  sick person is directed to the medicine man who has necessary medicine
18.  sick person does not ask the medicine man about his medicine
19.  sick person directed to get the tree that will provide the medicine
20.  ways of preparing and taking medicine

Medicine’s limits

21.  medicine does not treat every sickness successfully; the role of fate or destiny
22.  example:  not giving an intended  gift; medicine may or may not work
23.  can treat sicknesses like leprosy; other conditions resemble it; cannot know all diseases
24.  leprosy a contact disease, but many stories about what can cause it

Pain and swelling:  kpaɣa

25.  kpaɣa:  the root of sickness
26.  kpaɣa medicine from plant roots; how it is administered
27.  kpaɣa in different parts of the body:  pain; medicine can help
28.  kpaɣa as a lump; hernia; can change and grow
29.  kpaɣa can be dangerous and fatal; firipi

Other sicknesses

30.  sompuɣli:  stomach sickness in women; prevents conception
31.  kpaɣaʒɛgu:  malaria
32.  gonorrhea
33.  yoɣu:  swelling; boil
34.  dirgu:  many different sicknesses; sores, blindness, headaches, impotence
35.  jaɣa:  yaws
36.  treatment of yaws
37.  anthrax:  can kill
38.  kpilimpihi:  epilepsy; has types
39.  kɔhim piɛlli:  tuberculosis
40.  tira ka nyɛra:  cholera
41.  dɔɣu:  convulsions
42.  kpante
43.  muliŋmee


44.  worms:  inside the stomach or body
45.  ʒigora
46.  schistosomiasis
47.  elephantiasis
48.  napompuli:  swelling in legs, another type of worm

Guinea worm

49.  guinea worm
50.  guinea worm in water; can be seen
51.  guinea worm can spoil parts of the body
52.  tie the guinea worm so that it won’t go back into the body


53.  snakes:  kill people; Dagbamba treatment
54.  snakebite:  Mossi treatment; different Mossi medicines

Conclusion:  modern medicine

55.  some sicknesses are new to Dagbon; hepatitis
56.  many sicknesses have strength in Dagbon; need for people with medicine to come and help

II-28:  Madness


1.    madness:  difficult to treat it, even for white doctors
2.    madness comes from God; Dagbamba have medicines 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