A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter III-1:  Farming in Dagbon   <PDF file>

The origins of farming in Dagbon; farming and the family; the sweetness of farming work; market-day farming and group farming

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


Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>


1.  transition to talks about Dagbamba life

Farming in olden days and modern days

2.  Dagbamba were farming when Dagbon started
3.  not farming much; raiding and fighting; did not take land
4.  few people were in the region, farming only a little bit
5.  Dagbamba were farming more than other tribes; buying Gurunsis with food
6.  Dagbmaba did not fight Gurunsis; Gurunsis had nothing to take
7.  not farming much; hunger; ate hibiscus, taŋkoro root; dealing with taŋkoro poison
8.  by Naa Luro’s time were farming more
9.  Alhaji Ibrahim farms; different type of earning from drumming; farming like a lottery
10.  traditional farming:  yams, guinea corn, beans, corn, millet; modern farming:  rice, groundnuts
11.  traditional farming by hand is difficult and tiring
12.  in original tradition, drummers, maalams, barbers did not farm
13.  chiefs did not farm; chief’s villages farmed for the chief
14.  most Dagbamba now farm

Farming and children shared from one’s siblings

15.  send children to live with and farm for brother or mother
16.  children of your brother or sister come to farm for you; marry and extend house:  “young men’s side”
17.  some Dagbamba don’t care well for brothers’ children; they leave the house
18.  importance of respecting brothers’ and sisters’ children
19.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s sons Alhassan and Abukari; how Alhassan has benefited
20.  not respecting a brother’s son can bring trouble to the father

How children learn farming

21.  follow father to the farm; by three or four can dig for crickets, learn weeding
22.  by six or seven:  carry hens to farm, weed, fetch water
23.  children can work nicely; feed them; after harvest, buy something for them
24.  farming has not teaching; from the heart; only show yam mounds; when children grow, they take over the farm for their father

Market-day farming

25.  come together to farm
26.  set specific market days to go to each other’s farms; increases productivity
27.  going to one another’s farm; can take to father’s farm; helps the family, too
28.  market-day farming is white heart work; from friendship; farmers work hard
29.  do not share the harvest; no debt

Group farming

30.  brought by white men; Dagbamba have refused it; too much cheating and quarrels around work and sharing
31.  now the government forces it; banks make loans to group farmers, not individual; not always successful
32.  farmers say they are a group to get loans, but farm individually; many issues
33.  market-day farming is better than group farming; don’t share harvest but more benefit

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Talks enter one another.

What is coming is not something that is going back.

For us Dagbamba, there is nothing stronger than farming, and there is nothing sweeter than farming.

He should be closing the gate of his grandmother.

The children should go and be fetching water for them in the farm.

say the children should go and be fetching water for them in the farm.

And so farming, for those who hear truth, it had got profit.

As for children, their only medicine is food.

If a person doesn’t want something, and you tell him to do it, as he doesn’t want it, the work he will do for you is the work you also don’t want.

But if someone wants something, he will do it and you will know that he wants it.

Farming has no showing.

The market-day farming is white-heart work.

If your friend kills a hen and cuts your share for you, you should know that your hen in the house is also roaming with a broken leg.

It is friendship and liking which bring the market-day farming.

You can know that someone is cheating you and you will also be benefiting from that person.

If you come to know that we are cheating you, you will not get what you want from us.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
Naa Gbewaa
Naa Luro
Naa Nyagsi  (Naa Nyaɣsi)
Naa Shitobu  (Naa Shitɔbu)
Naa Sigli  (Naa Siɣli)
Naa Zanjina

Names and people
Abdulai  (Ibrahim)
Abdulkadiri  (Ibrahim)
Alhassan  (Ibrahim)
Ben  (Sunkari)
Kissmal  (Ibrahim Hussein)
Osmanu  (Ibrahim)
Yakubu  (Ibrahim)

Towns and places

Cultural groups
Ashanti, Ashantis
Dagbana, Dagbamba
Frafra, Frafras
Gonja, Gonjas
Gurunsi, Gurunsis
Kasena, Kasenas
Mamprusi, Mamprusis
Nanumba, Nanumbas

Miscellaneous terms
bambara beans  [Vigna subterranea]
bira  [any hibiscus, especially Hibiscus surattensis]
cowpea  [Vigna unguiculata]
daa kparba
guinea corn  [Sorghum bicolor]
nosugu  (nosuɣu)
tankoro  (taŋkoro)  [Icacina senegalensis A. Juss.]
tindana, tindanas