A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter III-25:  Widows   <PDF file>

Customs regarding the remarriage of widows; chiefs’ widows: public bathing and beating; passing through the broken wall

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

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>

Widows are different from other unmarried women

1.  widows present issues; some people see them as bad luck; others search for them
2.  people fear widows; many people will not marry a widow
3.  if a woman is widowed twice, only someone with medicine will marry her
4.  some people search for widows; different reasons

How widows marry again

5.  widow’s dress:  white cloth and scarf; at family house, many men together trying to find her
6.  to search for a widow, stay with friend to send money to widow’s elder; need soothsaying stone
7.  soothsaying stone is ten-pesewa coin; how the soothsayer and family head hold walking stick over all the stones
8.  when they choose one stone, family head goes and tells the widow
9.  the suitor’s householder sometimes collects the widow at night
10.  other suitors may use vua or paɣali to steal the widow
11.  sometimes fight with chosen husband; widow’s family intervenes
12.  arguments and trickery to send the widow without trouble
13.  the other suitors collect their money back from the widow’s housepeople
14.  the new husband and the widow will eat karga before sleeping together
15.  customs regarding sleeping with the widow; white cola; if widow gives birth to a boy

Chiefs’ widows are beaten

16.  dead chief’s housechildren beat the widows; not the chief’s actual children; mistreated by the chief’s wives
17.  can be protected from beating if have children in the house or family in the town
18.  widows stay in houses near the chief’s house until the funeral

Bathing the widows and how they pass through the broken wall

19.  on the funeral day, M’ba Naa comes from Yendi to bathe the widows
20.  the bathing attracts many spectators
21.  how they bathe the widows and dress them
22.  faithful wives take spears and pass through the broken wall to the grave; drummers beat Baŋgumaŋa
23.  those who don’t pass the broken wall are whipped by M’ba Naa; some pay bribes to pass
24.  how drummers praise widows who pass the wall; family will slaughter an animal
25.  jealousy and medicine against such widows
26.  how the widows greet in the town the morning after the funeral and then go to their family houses


27.  widows talk is different from other women

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

Somebody’s good luck is somebody’s bad luck, and somebody’s bad luck is somebody’s good luck.  

Somebody can refuse something, and somebody will want it.

Somebody will see something and refuse it, and you will even give it to him free and he will not want it, but somebody will count money and go and buy that thing.

“Has he got a soothsaying stone?”

No one would chase a widow unless he himself was well-boiled.

If you are not well-boiled and you take a widow, the day you sleep with her, that is the day you will know if you are somebody who will die.

“All your talks have finished today.  Your chieftaincy is finished.  All your bluffing, and how you were showing yourself, and how you have been talking and doing bad to all the people in this house, it is finished today.”

They heard the mouth of their father.

Gambeyirsi bihi”:  they are children whose mother passed through the broken part of the wall.

“You are the son of a passer through the gambee.”

A widow’s talk is different, because she has become a fearful thing.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
M'ba Naa

Proverbs and praise-names
Gambeyirsi bihi

Musical terms
Bangumanga  (Baŋgumaŋa)

Towns and places

Cultural groups

Miscellaneous terms
gambee gooni
maalam, maalams
pagali  (paɣali)
pesewa, pesewas