A Drummer's Testament
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Chapter III-27:  Reflections on the History of the Work   <PDF file>

The history of Alhaji Ibrahim's relationship with John; problems of the work; why Alhaji Ibrahim did the work; how he feels about it; final instructions to John

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

Contents outline and links by paragraph  <top of page>


1.  conclude with history and difficulties of how John and Alhaji Ibrahim did the work

John’s initial training in drumming

2.  John’s arrival in Dagbon; asks to learn drum beating
3.  John returns from travel to start drumming; arrangements for charges
4.  John begind lessons; encouraging start; Alhaji Ibrahim delegates two drummers to teach
5.  issues with the two drummers; Alhaji Ibrahim rejoins the lessons
6.  Alhaji Ibrahim observes John’s character and dedication to learning
7.  John learns more than expected
8.  John accompanies drummers to performances; asks to add more knowledge
9.  further conflict with the other teachers; Alhaji Ibrahim blames them and not John
10.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s advice to John to manage the lessons with patience
11.  Alhaji Ibrahim sends John to Alhaji Adam Mangulana for medicine
12.  John buys drums and guŋgɔŋ; demonstrates more commitment
13.  John’s respectful demeanor

Development of the relationship

14.  John leaves on good terms; some people criticize the lessons
15.  Alhaji Ibrahim and John correspond; John responds to Alhaji Ibrahim’s wife’s death; the friendship continues
16.  resistance and arguments against the friendship; Alhaji Ibrahim and John disregard the criticism; John returns to continue lessons

Development of the lectures

17.  Alhaji Ibrahim begins teaching “hidden” talks; Baŋgumaŋa and Ʒɛm; John makes sacrifices; sign of respect
18.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s instructions regarding the significance of the sacrifice
19.  the initial interviews on the hidden dances set format; John returns and asks for lectures on Dagbon
20.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s doubts about how to lecture
21.  Alhaji Ibrahim decides to talk about what he knows to be true; trust in the truth
22.  from the start, the talks go well; confidence in their value
23.  criticism and arguments against the work
24.  the elders support the work; Alhaji Ibrahim refuses the criticism of young people and outsides
25.  naming the elders who encouraged the friendship of Alhaji Ibrahim and John
26.  John sends Alhaji Ibrahim on pilgrimage to Mecca; significance of the gift
27.  the work continues; the difficulties of organizing Alhaji Ibrahim’s pilgrimage; the benefits of patience

Alhaji Ibrahim’s intentions and motives

28.  happiness and shyness
29.  respect for differences and distance between John and Alhaji Ibrahim; not because of money but for all to benefit
30.  enhance the name and reputation of Dagbon
31.  extend the knowledge of elders and ancestors
32.  involve the group and associates for guidance
33.  John’s sickness; the work continues over many trips; re-reading and repairing the talks to finish them

The benefits of the work

34.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s confidence in the talks
35.  the work has its extent
36.  blessings and benefit of the friendship and the work
37.  the work should benefit all involved; good to conclude with a sacrifice
38.  comparison to the sacrifice for the old talks
39.  the suggestion of a sacrifice is a recommendation that John can choose to follow or not
40.  the sacrifice is to secure the benefit of the work
41.  John has no debt for the work; friendship
42.  John should respect the work and present it with respect

Proverbs and Sayings  <top of page>

When a human being wants to know something, and he puts his bad habits down to look for what he wants, then it is nothing that people can be against.

A leopard does not eat goat meat, but if you allow him to tend the fire where the goat meat is being cooked, when he comes and pushes the fire where they are cooking goat meat, he will have the appetite to eat it.

Somebody again will learn work and see its sweetness, and his heart will tell him he should continue learning it.

The heart that tells him he should go back and learn it again is a heart that will gain.

It is the heart which thinks, and the tongue will say it.

If you don’t want farming, you won’t beg for land.

When you beg for land, we don’t believe that you are going to farm, but when you get a hoe, that is when we know that you are serious about farming.

Not all people will like a person.

It is only a fool who says that everybody should like him.

I will not consider money and refuse my friend.

If you die, they don’t bury you with money.

When a lion comes out to walk, people with sense will know that a lion is something bad.

The work patience kills does not die with a complete neck.
The work that patience kills does not die with without its throat cut.

Anything you have to use patience to get is not something you get for nothing.
No one will use patience to get something and say that he got it for nothing.

If somebody gets something in a cheap way, he will think that it is nothing.

What patience kills is not forbidden.  There is nothing forbidden on the part of the work of patience.

A weak person does not know he is a weak person, until the day he chases a tortoise and does not catch it.  That is the day he will know he is weak.

Truth is not a stranger.

It is lies that is a stranger.

If I take truth and talk, when it goes to someplace I don’t know, it will not be a stranger.

Wherever truth is, it will get a place to enter.  If the truth wants, it can be as big as this town, but it can enter this room.

As for lies, if you put it just outside, it cannot enter here.

Lies are like urine:  when it starts it goes far, but it comes to finish in front of you.

Lies have no birth, and lies have no family house.

Truth has got a family house, and when it gives birth, it brings forth plenty.

Truth does not finish, but lies finish.

It is in the testes that you will know that a hernia is starting.  When a hernia starts and it is not yet big, you will know that when it’s going to grow, it will be more than that.

And our work:  God made it that it does not forbid any soup, and it does not forbid any type of food, and it does not fear work.

The person who is not a person, what he says, you shouldn’t accept and you shouldn’t refuse.  You will hear it.  But don’t take it and do work.

The person God has made, and the person God likes, when somebody wants to spoil him, it is difficult.

If you want to live with somebody, you shouldn’t be hearing talks.

Patience is everything.

If God agrees and you are patient, you will get what your heart wants.

The talk you cannot forget, to us it is a big talk.
“Forget of it”:  that is not a big talk.

If a useless person does not know how to give, he knows how to give back.

Sometimes you will suffer to get something but you won’t get it at that time, and you will be patient and you will get it later.

If you get a stranger and he comes to meet you and he says, “I want you to teach me this,” you should think much inside your heart, and you should make your heart white.

It is shyness which is a human being.

You should let shyness be inside your eyes.

If a stranger comes to meet you, and he comes from far to get something, you the one from the town, if you want, you can be as heavy as anything, you should leave your heaviness and put it down, and you should decrease yourself and come.   If you are a weak person, you should still be a weak person and come, because you don’t know what he has seen and he has come to you.

We know that if a soup will be sweet, then there must be salt inside, and when any work is done, and even where there is death, money will enter inside it.  But it is not money which does all the work.

Respect is more than money.

If I hear the truth, and it comes to enter my heart, it can give birth to many talks.

It is the heart that stands for something, and it is the mouth that is talking.

It is good that everything you do, you have a leader.

If somebody does not search for talk, no one will talk.

It is good when somebody holds a rope.  Before you unroll the rope, he is holding it.  And you know its joining places and its weak points.  And he will be pulling.  As he is pulling, he is also seeing it, and he knows whether it is strong or it is not strong.  But the one who has woven the thread, he is the one who knows how long it is.

If you greet the one who loves you, you should also greet the one who gives you.

The one who loves you may want to give you something, but he has nothing; but the one who gives you has got.

If a rabbit is sleeping in its place and you wake it up, whether you kill it or someone else kills it, you are the person who killed it.

In these modern times, if a rabbit should wake up, it is a modern times dog that will catch it.

All people cannot like a person.

Only a fool believes that everybody will like him.

The one who wants our work will say it is somebody with patience who has talked to you, because someone without patience cannot talk these talks.

You can’t know all knowledge.

You can read a book and finish reading it, but we can’t read knowledge and finish it.

If you are living with your friend and he gives you something, you don’t have to say, “God bless you; may God bless you.”

Don’t give a gift and sit and be watching the one you gave to thank you very well for it.  He will only be sitting down, and other people will be thanking you for him.

The work we have done should benefit all of us.

You will say that the one you have collected this work from, you cannot pay him back.  He didn’t ask you to pay any amount, and so only God can pay him.

In Dagbon here, we take it that if we do something that is good, and we believe it, and we are coming to finish it, we finish it by removing blood.  It will stand that this is how we have held our work and finished it.

If you go to look for something that you think will be very hard to get, and you go and you are lucky to get it in an easy way, it’s better for you to give it respect before you go.

If you are going to dry something in the sun, and it is something that everybody likes, if you don’t sit down to watch it and you don’t get something to protect it from people crossing over it, then it is going to be useless.

It’s not good if you don’t know something and I know it, but I don’t tell you.

Every work you want to do, you should do it in the right way.

One dies because of his own thing, and one survives because of his own thing.

The red dove does not say goodbye to the guinea corn chaff.

If you eat the medicine that says that no one should knock you, you have to sit down quietly.

If you use medicine to enter into people’s matters, then one day children will beat you and the medicine will not mind.

The work we have done, hold it with your two hands.  Don’t hold it loosely.

Never let what you hold in your hands to be lying on the ground.

If you are trading and you want to sell something, and what you are selling is good or bad, then if it is small, when you take it to the market, you should put it in a beautiful tin and cover it.

Key words for ASCII searches  <top of page>

Chiefs and elders
Naa Darizhegu  Naa Dariʒɛɣu
Naa Gbewaa
Naa Luro
Naa Nyagsi  Naa Nyaɣsi
Naa Sigli  Naa Siɣli
Zhipopora  Ʒipopora
Logambalbo  Loɣambalbo  (Abukari)
Namo-Naa  (Issahaku)
Nanton Lun-Naa  (Iddrisu)
Palo-Naa  (Issa)
Lun-Zoo-Naa  (Abukari)

Musical terms
Bangumanga  Baŋgumaŋa
gungon  guŋgɔŋ
Jera  Jɛra
Zhem  Ʒɛm

Names and people
Adam Ibrahim
Alhaji Adam  (Alhassan) Mangulana
(Alhaji)  Ibrahim  (Abdulai)
(Alhaji)  Mumuni  (Abdulai)
Alhaji Shahadu  (Issa)
Alhassan  (Ibrahim)
Alhassan Abukari
Allahu Akubaru
Amadu Jaato
Ben  (Sunkari)
Kissmal  (Ibrahim Hussein)
Mahamadu (Sheni)
Mustapha  (Muhammad)
Sheni  (Alhassan)

Towns and places

Cultural groups
Ashanti, Ashantis

Miscellaneous terms
Ao  (utterance)
Holy Qu’ran
guinea corn
Oi  (exclamation)