A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter III-20:  How Dagbamba Feed Their Families   <PDF file>

How Dagbamba householders feed their wives and children; types of commoners; rotation of cooking among the wives; how chiefs' wives gather foodstuffs; financial contributions of husband and wives

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

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>


1.  chapter will discuss commoners, not chiefs or maalams or rich people
2.  a commoner:  not a prince; not wealthy; without a voice; sick

Those who are sick or poor

3.  a sick person will not marry; a blind person sometimes marries
4.  impotent person can marry to provide for housepeople
5.  some sick people feed their family through alms
6.  sick person’s household roams to find food; wife may leave him
7.  very poor people; from God; sometimes the children prosper
8.  other people will feed such commoners and their households

How commoners share corn and guinea corn to feed the household

9.  calabash measure corn or guinea corn to each wife for a month’s cooking
10.  some typical Dagbamba watch while wife fetches grain from the room
11.  farmers who have a lot of food can hold wives; soup ingredients there too
12.  the food lasts because the wives each cook two days before the cooking rotates
13.  not necessarily a farmer who has enough food for the household
14.  market traders buy food; differences:  marry wives to the extent of wealth

Buying the other ingredients for cooking

15.  difficult to give examples about money and spending because of inflation
16.  the wife with cooking gets money for soup ingredients; wives add own money
17.  sometimes the money is not enough; mother provides for young children too
18.  rich man’s children more likely to steal than poor man’s children
19.  poor man’s children do not steal
20.  good man will give extra money which wives will use for the children
21.  have to feed everyone in the house; if do not, will lose respect
22.  some men only give corn and nothing for ingredients; the women suffer

How rich people hold their families

23.  good way of living:  person who uses money to feed many people
24.  bad way of living:  person who does not share money
25.  children of selfish person are those who become thieves
25.  useless person asks wives about the costs of things in the market
27.  rich person is someone with people; not someone with money

How chiefs feed their families

28.  chiefs give grain, buy meat; does not give for soup ingredients
29.  chiefs’ wives take things from people’s farms; make their own kpalgu
30.  salt given to chief by the market chief
31.  only some chiefs’ wives still enter farms
32.  chiefs near larger towns do not do it; give money for ingredients

How children eat

33.  chiefs’ wives two-day cooking schedule; leftovers in morning; carry food to farm
34.  farmers’ children:  old food or porridge; roasted yams at farm, also food from house
35.  townperson:  gives children money to buy food; if no money, children find for themselves

How household members borrow from and help one another and how the women trade

36.  difficult to feed everyone; constantly managing money and adjusting
37.  cooking money only for the wife who cooks; can borrow from the wife
38.  women get money from trading; husband will help finance the trading

Wives who are very young and other examples

39.  young wives do not trade until grow older and know the household
40.  older wives will train the young wife; husband gives her money
41.  young wife learns the people in the house and how they eat
42.  a young man’s wife is trained by the senior women in the house or father’s wives
43.  householder gives money to wives of young men in the house
44.  Christians eat by themselves in the house; don’t share cooking
45.  a few Muslim wives stay and trade in the house; husband goes to market; not common


46.  transition to talk about other work than cooking and eating

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

For a poor person to feed his wife and children, it comes from God.

There is no one who has ever known everything about a woman.

The time you will get to know everything about a woman, by that time you will be dead.

It is these women who give birth to us, and they have sense more than us, and so we have to fear them.

It is what the heart wants, and how someone gets the means:  this is what will let someone feed many wives.

What your heart wants, that is what you do.

The meat you have taken from your father’s pot, that is the one you will eat.
The meat that is in your father’s pot is the meat you eat.

When a gourd is full, you don’t shake it.

The person we call rich in Dagbon here is someone who has got people.

Such a person [who has money but does not hold people], we don’t say that he is the owner of his money.  The owner of the money is there:  when this man dies, the owner of the money will collect his thing.

And so the rich person who is useless, it shows that the money is not his money.

You don’t ask your wife the prices of what she buys in the market.

Money has got a lot of talks.

He has patience:  that is why he has people.

And so in Dagbon here, it is someone with people who is a rich man.  And the person with money but no people, we don’t call him a rich man; we say that he is a money man, or we say that he has wealth.

Wealth finishes but people do not finish.

In Dagbon here, someone who has got wealth does not bluff someone who has got people.

The one who has wealth follows the one who has got people.  And the one who has got people follows the chief, because the land is for the chief, and if the land is cool, he will sit down.  And the chief too is following the maalams.  And the maalams will take all their matters and give to God.  This is what we know on how our people live.

Someone who suffers does not become useless.

As for a wife, if you marry a woman, it means that she is your mother’s child.

The secrets between you and your wife, even your mother will not know it.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and titled persons
Dakpema  (Dakpɛma)

Names and people
Alhassan (Ibrahim)

Towns and places

Cultural groups
Dagbana, Dagbamba

Miscellaneous terms
cedi, cedis
nmani  (ŋmani)
pesewa, pesewas
sagim  (saɣim)
salinvogu  (salinvɔɣu)
zaga  (zaɣa)
zagnmernmani  (zaɣŋmɛrŋmani)