A Drummer's Testament:   chapter outlines and links

Volume III Part 1:  Economic Life

III-1:  Farming in Dagbon


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

III-2:  How Dagbamba Sow Their Farms

Farming yams

1.  farming is focused on yams; mixed with other crops
2.  clearing the land:  nyutam, vaɣli, zalli
3.  cook food after clearing the land; bury food on the farm
4.  making ridges for yam mounds; vuɣlaa, nakpaa
5.  preparing yam seeds
6.  season or time for planting and harvesting yams
7.  techniques of planting yams
8.  types of yams; their characteristics and differing yields
9.  farm different types because of different harvests; don’t mix types in a mound
10.  covering the mounds with nyubuɣri; protecting the mounds
11.  nyusari; stake the growing yams; weeding and caring for the yams

Farming other crops

12.  second crops, make farm in the batandali; getting people to help
13.  farming the batandali; making a corn farm
14.  adding guinea corn and beans or cowpeas
15.  sowing bambara beans and millet among the yam mounds
16.  farming corn in the guinea corn farm; types of corn; guinea corn only one year
17.  can farm a plot for three years usually; occasionally five or more; then fallow
18.  sow red beans (sanʒi) in the corn farm; early harvest
19.  when weeding yam farm, also sow sesame in a separate place

The work of yams

20.  typical Dagbamba use new yams for sacrifice to Jɛbuni house shrine
21.  gather people to harvest the yams
22.  the day of eating yams:  gather the family; pound new yams for fufu
23.  slaughter goats and fowls; share the food to neighbors
24.  the work of yams:  mashed yams
25.  the work of yams:  boiled yams with stew
26.  the work of yams:  roasted yams, fried yams
27.  the work of yams:  other ways to cook and eat yams

How women help with harvesting crops

28.  harvesting the other crops; women help with harvesting work
29.  harvesting corn; remove the kernels in the house compound
30.  harvesting guinea corn; also women; push down the stalks and cut; gather and carry home
31.  harvesting millet is difficult; how women prepare an area, beat the millet, and sieve it
32.  sharing the harvest with the house women for their own use
33.  how women sometimes help with sowing and weeding; girlfriends and wives
34.  some women do not help with the harvesting; sometimes causes quarrels

III-3:  The Work of Guinea Corn and Other Crops


1.  guinea corn’s importance compared to yams

The work of guinea corn:  saɣim

2.  how to prepare saɣim with guinea corn flour
3.  serving the saɣim into bowls
4.  how to prepare the soup or stew with okro, fish, and seasonings
5.  how they serve the household

Other work of guinea corn

6.  kpaakulo:  fried fermented flour paste; can also use corn, beans, millet
7.  kpaakulo from Ashantis; formerly called chabala
8.  porridge
9.  making kpɛya by malting
10.  porridge with teeth
11.  boiled guinea corn for morning food


12.  maha for Muslim alms
13.  how to prepare maha
14.  alms for funerals or for Fridays
15.  alms for other reasons, advised by maalam or soothsayer


16.  used to brew pito; women brew it
17.  use ground kpɛya to brew it; send to other parts of Ghana
18.  boiled kpeya in big pots; takes three days to brew pito
19.  sieve the boiled kpɛya and ferment it to become pito

The pito house

20.  pito is for people who drink it and sell it
21.  receive pito to taste; then buy and drink from calabashes


22.  the behavior of drunkards
23.  drinking leads to insults and quarrels
24.  some drunkards don’t want trouble; how they walk zigzag
25.  some drunkards go from house to house for pito to taste
26.  how villagers drink on market days; the behavior of drunkards
27.  Tolon has many drinkers
28.  villagers are the ones who drink more; meet and bluff their friends at pito house
29.  how they bluff one another their children and their farming for food

Pito at funerals

30.  villagers also attend funerals to get pito
31.  how the elder of the funeral organizes the preparation of pito
32.  how pito is served at the funeral house; very important for funerals

Millet pito

33.  millet is used for sacrifice to Tilo house shrine
34.  Tilo pito is brewed from millet
35.  millet pito is not consumed much apart from repairing Tilo

Pito in Dagbon and elsewhere

36.  guinea corn is the main pito; if no guinea corn, can use corn but few will drink it
37.  more pito cooking in Dagbon because more farming of guinea corn


38.  millet for saɣim and kpaakulo
39.  how fula is prepared and eaten; not only Dagbamba food
40.  can use rice for fula, but not as good as millet; adding sweet potatoes
41.  Dagbamba probably got fula from the Hausas; important for Muslims and Hausas
42.  how yama and yaaŋkanda are prepared for farmers


43.  for saɣim and porridge and porridge with teeth; roasted; secondary to guinea corn


44.  after yams, guinea corn, millet; bambara beans, cowpeas, other beans
45.  stored in large containers; important food when yams not yet harvested or have no yams
46.  how to prepare gabli; grind beans and boil
47.  tubaani; beans ground and wrapped in leaves and boiled
48.  kooshe; prepared the same as kpaakulo; also just cook beans; also sell them


49.  transition to the talk about rice

III-4:  Rice Farming

The introduction of rice farming

1.  introduction:  government wants rice farming
2.  rice previously not regarded; rarely farmed
3.  encouraged by Nkrumah as commercial farming

Getting a plot to farm

4.  seeing the chief and elders of a village to get land
5.  how to greet the chief
6.  Wulana leads the farmer to choose the land
7.  greetings for commercial farming versus food farming

Loans, tractors, and labor in farming the plot

8.  hiring a tractor; plowing, harrowing, sowing rice
9.  getting a bank loan; bribes
10.  bank pays out loan money incrementally:  seeds, tractors, sowing, fertilizer
11.  planting other crops in case the rice does not do well
12.  difficulty of rice:  lack of rain; laborers to weed grass
13.  hiring by-day labor
14.  cutting the rice:  hire laborers; some friends will help without pay
15.  beating the rice:  hire laborers to beat, sieve, and bag the rice

Sharing the yield and paying the debt

16.  pay with money and add some rice as a gift; contrast with combine harvester
17.  give rice for using the land:  chief, elders, tindana
18.  report to the bank; show lower yield
19.  some people bribe the bank; can even get tractor
20.  if the farm does not yield, bank will make adjustment

Problems of rice farming

21.  problem of rice farming:  tractors do not complete their work
22.  problem of rice farming:  tractors are not timely
23.  rice farmers can farm and fail
24.  many problems from not having a tractor
25.  after sowing, need fertilizer which is not always available
26.  if the inputs are adequate, the rice will yield; fertilizer
27.  rice farming has no benefit for many farmers; lack of rain

Commercial farming and government inputs

28.  tractors can farm and also be hired out to other farmers
29.  Nkrumah’s programs; subsidies of tractors and inputs
30.  those who benefited from the early assistance are rich; small farmers have fallen

Managing debt

31.  how rice has increased in cost; living with debt
32.  managing the debt
33.  commercial banks versus government banks
34.  difficulties of paying off debt
35.  a good harvest can remove a farmer from his debt

The work of rice

36.  the work of rice:  ways of cooking it
37.  grind the rice and make saɣim
38.  rice balls
39.  rice porridge; boiled rice with stew
40.  duɣrijilli:  rice cooked together with the ingredients of the stew; like jollof


41.  transition to the talk of groundnuts, kpalgu, and shea nuts

III-5:  Groundnuts, Shea Nuts, Kpalgu, and Animals


1.  this chapter joins several talks


2.  groundnut farming an old thing; not much until vegetable oil mills
3.  can sow in batandali or mounds, or in its own place
4.  harvesting the groundnuts

The work of groundnuts

5.  eating boiled groundnuts
6.  roasted groundnuts
7.  mix into kpalgu
8.  grind and add to soup
9.  kulikuli; from Hausas; separating the oil
10.  how Mossi and Hausa traders showed Dagbamba kulikuli in Alhaji Ibrahim’s youth
11.  government agriculture people introduced better groundnuts
12.  much profit from groundnuts
13.  farming groundnuts to sell to vegetable oil mills

Shea nuts

14.  original cooking oil; also for lanterns
15.  from shea tree; have to go to bush
16.  how the shea nuts ripen on the tree
17.  how women go in groups to gather shea nuts
18.  separating the fresh from the overripe shea nuts
19.  boiling the shea nuts; spreading them to dry
20.  continuing collection, boiling drying through the season
21.  dangers of collecting shea nuts; snakes, spirits
22.  can sell nuts or make shea butter

Shea butter

23.  pounding and breaking the shea nuts
24.  cooking and grinding the nuts to separate the oil
25.  women gather top help one another; stirring the nuts and adding water to separate shea butter
26.  use remains (kpambirgu) to paint walls
27.  finishing preparing the shea butter
28.  selling the shea butter in the market
29.  carrying shea butter to sell in Asante in olden days
30.  how Mossi traders traded shea butter to the South
31.  how shea butter is used in medicine


32.  the work of kpalgu in cooking
33.  how the seed pods mature on the tree
34.  ownership of the seed pods by chiefs
35.  removing the seeds; uses of the pods (dasandi)
36.  preparing and drying the seeds
37.  boiling the seeds; uses of the boiling water (zilimbɔŋ)
38.  further preparation of the seeds; pound, boil, let rot
39.  preparation of the kpalgu

Raising animals

40.  animals raised not just for eating; for purposes; cover the anus
41.  cow and horse are most important to villagers
42.  holding many animals shows a person who “eats and is satisfied”
43.  cows used to perform funerals
44.  people use profit from farming to get animals
45.  others buy animals to keep for times of need


46.  keeping chickens inside the house
47.  feeding the chickens with termites
48.  caring for guinea fowls is similar to chickens
49.  taking young fowls to the farm to eat insects
50.  how the fowls become attached to their owner

Example:  how Alhaji Mumuni cares for animals

51.  how Alhaji Mumuni takes care of fowls in his area
52.  how he raises goats
53.  feeding goats
54.  feeding sheep
55.  how animals roam and eat; when they must be tied
56.  how children care for sheep; where sheep sleep


57.  taking cows to bush to eat; return at night
58.  formerly children took care of cows; now Fulani are main cowherds
59.  how the Fulani profit from cow’s milk
60.  in olden days, milk was easily available in villages
61.  milk has become profitable; mistrust of Fulanis
62.  Fulanis benefit from milk and from manure for farming
63.  cows need care because can spoil someone’s farm
64.  issues of cows giving birth to males and females
65.  example:  how Alhaji Ibrahim acquired a cow
66.  how Alhaji Ibrahim’s cow gave birth
67.  the Fulani cowherd’s advice to Alhaji Ibrahim
68.  how the cows were lost


69.  transition to talk of markets

III-6:  Markets in Dagbon


1.  markets have many benefits

How the daalana collected items in the market

2.  chiefs control the market:  daasaha and daalana collect things for chief
3.  this talk from time before white men, no tax; daalana carried a bag
4.  the daalana would collect items from different sellers in the market; guinea corn, fish
5.  for some items, use small calabash for measurement; salt
6.  collecting seasonings:  nili
7.  types of peppers
8.  types of seasonings:  kpalgu, kantɔŋ, ncho
9.  types of beans
10.  kebabs, pito
11.  cloth sellers; receiving cowries
12.  cowries were money before white men came
13.  kooshe, fried yams; other prepared foods

How the chief receives the items

14.  the daalana takes the items to the chief; respect for the chief for holding the town and the market
15.  the chief makes sacrifices to repair the market; help from tindana and elders
16.  the chief helps to maintain the markets; clearing grass
17.  the daalana’s does not force to collect things
18.  the food items collected are for the chief’s wives and housechildren to eat, not the chief

The markets and messaging

19.  send messages via someone’s townspeople at a market
20.  different towns’ people sit in their particular place in the market
21.  people are happy at markets; see people; can buy and sell things

Festival markets

22.  at some markets especially following Praying and Chimsi Festivals
23.  the three market days
24.  how the villagers show themselves at festival markets
25.  not much selling, except in preparation
26.  example:  how villagers dance and celebrate at Voggo festival market
27.  the festival market are very important to people
28.  going around to attend different festival markets

Markets in northern Ghana

29.  not only Dagbamba have markets; also other towns like Bolgatanga and Bawku
30.  markets have been there since olden days; people walked even to far markets
31.  some markets grow in importance while other small markets die

The six-day schedule of markets

32.  Tamale is the biggest market; people travel from many towns and places
33.  Tolon (Katiŋ daa) was formerly the big market; how villagers drink at the market
34.  Savelugu (Katinŋa daa)
35.  three markets:  Voggo, Tampion, and Yendi (Champuu)
36.  Gushegu and Nyankpala
37.  Kumbungu

Markets in eastern Dagbon

38.  all types of people in Dagbon like the markets; Konkombas also enjoy the markets
39.  Yendi market a big market in eastern Dagbon; many Konkombas
40.  other markets in eastern Dagbon beyond Yendi
41.  Gushegu market; far away; larger-scale trading
42.  Karaga market; similar to Gushegu but not as big because same day as Tamale market


43.  buying from one market to sell at another
44.  bringing animals to market; restrictions on types of fowls
45.  trading food for animals from Gurunsis
46.  how Gurunsis would travel to Dagbamba markets for food
47.  formerly men and women sold different things; now mixed
48.  example:  calabashes men would farm but women would sell
49.  food:  formerly men would farm but women would sell; now sell at the farm
50.  farming tools and salt formerly from Krachi; traveling to trade was for men
51.  now all buyings and sellings are generally mixed between men and women
52.  only men still sell animals, not women
53.  women do not sell medicines
54.  blacksmiths, barbers, and weavers sell their things; only men
55.  women sell pito, soap, thread; now both women and men sell cloth

III-7: Modern Work and Agricultual Development

Travel and modern work

1.  formerly Dagbamba farmed and did not travel
2.  in modern times, people travel easily
3.  white men brought different types of work
4.  young man could work for wages; different from farm earnings
5.  example:  road work; chiefs got money and gave to workers

Drummers have more work

6.  drummers work more often, get more money
7.  drumming work formerly less frequent; how it has changed
8.  what they earned formerly; money used to go farther
9.  money economy inflation; get more but spend more

With education, fewer people farm

10.  formerly Dagbamba did not send children to school; didn’t trust white men
11.  Dagbamba now see benefits of white men’s ways; children want schooling; no time to farm
12.  both ways are good because of population; census count is low

Farming for food better than commercial farming

13.  farming cannot feed the whole modern population
14.  olden days farming was better for Dagbon because farmed for food, not to sell
15.  government helps commercial farmers, not traditional farmers for food
16.  villagers still farm yams; cannot farm yams with tractors
17.  Dagbamba were farming before tractors were brought to Ghana
18.  development agencies should help small traditional farmers

Negative effects of modern farming:  grinding machines, fertilizer, tractors, corruption

19.  effect in Dagbon of grinding machines
20.  effect of tractors and fertilizer
21.  formerly used animal feces for fertilizer
22.  fertilizer not available or not sold at correct price
23.  corruption cannot be stopped
24.  corruption was not there in olden days; now it is everywhere
25.  animal feces is better than fertilizer
26.  tractor farming makes people feel weak and lazy
27.  returning to olden days fertilizer and techniques; burning
28.  other fertilizer from rubbish

Need to help traditional farmers

29.  get local leaders from among the small village farmers
30.  help those who cannot hire tractors
31.  need Peace Corps or CIDA or USAID to help instead of government people
32.  government people need bribes


33.  for water, need wells, boreholes, dams; cannot trust government to do the work
34.  separate the water for cows so that the water for the town is good
35.  people will help with the digging because will not be cheated by government
36.  get foreign aid workers to be watching the work
37.  after a few years the villagers will not agree to cheating

Organizing village farmers for traditional farming

38.  helping villagers with farming; axes, hoes, cutlass
39.  the villages are different; the leader is not necessarily the chief
40.  in some towns the chief has one mouth with the townspeople; Nanton an example
41.  villages and towns have farmers’ leader or young men’s leader; gather people
42.  getting the leader from the town; communicate about the project in advance
43.  give minimal money for agricultural inputs
44.  if no funds available, do market-day farming; not group farming
45.  credit problems with banks, which support large-scale farmers
46.  farmers will use traditional ways of farming
47.  do bullock farming where possible; another way to avoid tractor problems


48.  the small farmers are not following the group farming practices but need inputs
49.  the goal of farming help should be consistent with traditional food farming


50.  transition to family and household topics