A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter III-8:  Family and Lineage  <PDF>
Terminology of the family in Dagbon; the differences of family, line or door, and tribe; the importance of knowing the family and the role of women and drummers; relationship of the lines of chiefs and commoners; how chieftaincy doors die

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

Family terms by generation  <PDF>
Alhaji Ibrahim's mother's line from Naa Siɣli  <PDF>
Alhaji Ibrahim's father's line from Naa Garba  <PDF>
Chieftaincy example showing doors extending and closing from Naa Garba  <PDF>

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Family terminology

1.  parts of a family and how they are called
2.  the father’s side and mother’s side
3.  children address father’s brothers as “father,” mother’s sisters as “mother”
4.  aunts and uncles
5.  grandparents
6.  brothers and sisters
7.  grandchildren

Terms of address extend the sense of family

8.  family terms show closeness:  many mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters
9.  does not affect inheritance
10.  don’t show the differences between different sides; address them similarly
11.  in-laws do the same in addressing husband’s or wife’s family

Family, line, and tribe

12.  family like a tree with branches; from Adam and Hawa; separates and extends
13.  dɔɣim and dunoli:  immediate relatives and line
14.  dunoli, zuliya, and daŋ:  line and descent group
15.  example:  location of the dunoli with family head
16.  women and drummers know more about the family

Knowledge of the family

17.  education has spoiled the family; now no knowledge of the family
18.  need to ask and learn about the family
19.  formerly children spent more time with family elders
20.  drummers and women show the family, especially at funeral houses

Example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s lines

21.  drummers show the family and the origins of the line
22.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s mother’s line from Naa Siɣli
23.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s father’s line from Naa Garba
24.  example:  both lines from Naa Luro
25.  drummers have knowledge of people’s families

Example:  family doors of Yendi chiefs can die or shift

26.  family like a tree:  some branches grow and other branches die
27.  Naa Garba’s line
28.  Naa Andani Jɛŋgbarga’s line
29.  Naa Abdulai and Naa Andani
30.  chieftaincy dispute from the time of Naa Abilabila
31.  the strength of Naa Abdulai’s line in chieftaincy

Chiefs and commoners

32.  door to chieftaincy can die; all commoners come from former chiefs
33.  a chief is addressed as “my grandfather”
34.  if a child is missing, drummer’s announce that chief‘s grandchild is missing


35.  talks of family will continue

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

A family is one thing, but its talks are many.

A human being is in four parts.

If you take an older person to be your father, it will help you and help him too.

The talk about the family is two talks, because a family can extend and become wide, and a family can separate and become different.

The family is near, and the line is far.  As for your family, you know it, but as for your line, you will know it to your extent.

The women know the family more than the men.

Apart from a drummer, a woman knows the family more than anyone.

Some say that the school has come and opened the eyes of Dagbon, and others say that it is school that has come and killed Dagbon.

Not asking has spoiled the way of living of us Dagbamba.

A grandchild knows the family more than his father.

When women gather, they are talking family talks.

We are two people who show the family in Dagbon:  the drummers and the women.

If women were not in a family, the family would die.

It is at a funeral house that we Dagbamba know the family.

If drummers and women were not in Dagbon here, the family would have been dead.

Any time you see a drummer in Dagbon here, if he’s really a drummer, he knows the talk of people’s families.

A family is just like a tree standing outside with many branches.  How a tree lives and dies, this is the same way a line moves.  Some part of the tree will become dry and dead, and some part of it will be wet and growing.  You will see that some part of the tree has many branches, and another part of the tree will not have many branches.  This is how a family is.

In Dagbon here, every Dagbana is a chief’s grandson, and every Dagbana is a commoner.

Inside every commoner is the strength of chieftaincy, and the strength of chieftaincy is the commoner.

We are all from the bone of chieftaincy.

In Dagbon here, if you want to call the chief, you will call him “my grandfather.”

A family is like a tree with branches.  

If you are eating a chieftaincy in Dagbon here, it doesn’t show that your child is going to eat your chieftaincy.

Their fire has died.

The meaning is that they lit fire and gave to them to go and look for a way.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
Boggolana Mahama
Dalunlana Blemah
Karaga-Naa Mahami
Mionlana Andani
Mionlana Asimaani
Naa Abdulai
Naa Abilabila
Naa Abudu
Naa Abudu Bilabila
Naa Alaasani
Naa Andani
Naa Andani Jengbarga  (Naa Andani Jɛŋgbarga)
Naa Garba
Naa Luro
Naa Mahama Bila
Naa Mahama Kpema  (Naa Mahama Kpɛma)
Naa Mahamadu
Naa Mahami
Naa sigli  Naa Siɣli
Naa Simaani Zoli  (Naa Simaani)
Naa Tutugri  (Naa Tutuɣri)
Naa Yakuba
Naa Zagli  (Naa Zaɣli)
Naa Zanjina
Naa Ziblim Bandamda
Naa Ziblim Kulunku  (Naa Kulunku)
Nanton Lun-Naa  (Iddrisu)
Nanton-Naa Musa
Savelugu-Naa Lamandani
Savelugu-Naa Mahami
Singlana Aduna
Tugulana Iddi
Yaa-Naa, Yaa-Naas
Yakubu  (Andani)
Zakpalisilana Baakali
Zoggolana Dasana
Zugulana Ali

Names and people
Abdulai  (Simaani)
Alhassan  (Ibrahim)
Ibrahim  (Abdulai)
Kaasuwa  (Sulemana)
Kissmal  (Ibrahim Hussein)
Laati  (Mahama)
Mumuni  (Abdulai)
Sulemana  (Aduna)
Sumani  (Laati)

Towns and places

Cultural groups
Dagbana, Dagbamba

Miscellaneous terms
ku nmani  (ku ŋmani)
ku nman’ duu  (ku ŋmaŋ’ duu)
zong  (zoŋ)

Family terms
bakpema  (bakpɛma)
bia, bihi
bielikpema  (biɛlikpɛma)
dachehili  (dachɛhili)
dan  (daŋ)
dogim  (dɔɣim)
dogri kpema  (dɔɣri kpɛma)
makpema  (makpɛma)
mayili yabpaga  (mayili yabpaɣa)
mpaga  (mpaɣa)
nahiba  (ŋahiba)
nahinga, nahinsi  (ŋahiŋga, ŋahinsi)
piringa  (piriŋga)
tuzo  (tuzɔ)
tuzopaga  (tuzɔpaɣa)
yaanga, yaansi  (yaaŋa, yaansi)
yaantibchee, yaantibchahi
yabdoo kurli
yabpaga  (yabpaɣa)