A Drummer's Testament:   chapter outlines and links

Volume III Part 3:  Children

III-11:  The Benefits of Children


1. talk of children connected to talk of family
2. talk of children connected to householding and eldership
3. the scope of the topic

Having many children benefits the parents

4. more benefit from many children; at least some will help the family
5. children help in farming or buying food
6. family planning kills the family

Raising many children

7. have to care for all of them; don’t know which will be good
8. buying clothes; both husband and wife help

How children help the family

9. as older ones grow up, they will help with farming and feeding the younger ones
10. children can help in the market or trading
11. children who farm or trade can help the father get wives for them
12. example: how Alhassan helped when he married his wife

The character of children

13. a good child respects himself
14. a child’s character is from God

Training children

15. train children with work: farming and trading
16. mothers train daughters to respect husbands and in-laws
17. a child or grandchild will take up custom work, like drumming or butchering

More types of benefits of children

18. respect; someone with many children gets respect like a chief or a wealthy person
19. children help parent perform festivals
20. children can build a house for parents to live in
21. children can dig a well for the family
22. unexpected good works that children do for their parents: car, horse, cows, pilgrimage


23. some girls only help mother and not father; some help both
24. boys do more to help the parents

Other benefits

25. God helps and protects the world because of the innocence of children
26. children bring luck: good luck and bad luck

III-12:  How a Child Is Given Birth


1.  childbirth and infancy is a long talk

Pregnancy among typical Dagbamba

2.  length of pregnancy
3.  pregnancy is not something to be openly discussed
4.  for first pregnancies, maalams’ medicines and talismans; informing the in-laws; “putting the calabash” custom
5.  husband’s sister relationship to child; completing the pregnancy


6.  calling the midwife; delivery
7.  childbirth is women’s work; maalams’ medicines to ease delivery
8.  some women do not have difficulty, even give birth without midwife; example
9.  men do not become involved or witness childbirth

The newborn baby

10.  cutting the cord and treating the navel; burying the afterbirth; cooking naanzubee soup
11.  bathing the child with kulkula
12.  new mothers: preparing the new mother’s breast milk while another woman nurses the baby
13.  the first week before the naming, the mother’s family sends foodstuffs for cooking; the naming day

Names and the naming day (suuna)

14.  typical Dagbamba consult soothsayers; newborn child’s name is “stranger”
15.  soothsayers show the grandparent the child “inherits”; takes that name
16.  getting the name from the mother's side is unusual
17.  examples of Dagbamba names for boys and girls
18.  how parents will address the child as the grandparent
19.  the name can also come from what the parent wants
20.  Suuna: the naming ceremony: soothsayer shows the sacrifice; shaving the head; circumcize the boys; prepare food for family and visitors; sometimes drummers beat for dancing

Barbers and their work

21.  how barbers circumcize babies and treat the sore; their payment
22.  how barbers cut scars and marks on people
23.  types of marks; some show the town
24.  types of marks; some show the family or the circumstances of the person
25.  types of marks; if the family's children have been dying
26.  types of marks; "for life" or just because the person wants the mark

The mother goes to her parents' house with the baby

27.  the wife's parents "beg" for the child; carry the baby to their house
28.  the room where the baby sleeps
29.  bathing the child by older woman; shaping the head and features

Restrictions on sex

30.  not forbidden for pregnant women; women vary in their desires
31.  forbidden for pregnant woman to be unfaithful, "adding to the pregnancy"; will call the man's name during childbirth
32.  medicine to protect the unfaithful wife
33.  different from an unfaithful woman who conceives from a man outside the house
34.  if a new wife comes to the house with an outside pregnancy; what husbands do
35.  "crossing over the child's head": having outside sex while at the parents' house can kill the child
36.  no sex while at parents' house, even with husband; no new pregnancy until the child walks; quarrels
37.  white people and Arabs do not restrict sex after childbirth; babies who are not breastfed
38.  if a newborn dies, the wife also goes to parents' house for some months; no sex during that time, otherwise miscarriages and death

How a child grows

39.  teaching the child to sit, to crawl, and to walk
40.  how the child gets teeth
41.  children who cry or become sick; soothsayers show what they want: rings or bangles (nintua, bangari)

How the wife returns to her husband's house

42.  when child walks, husband sends foodstuffs to in-laws; cow forelegs; husband begs; they delay
43.  no actual time or schedule, unless the child walks

How Muslims give birth to and name their children

44.  differences between those who read and those who pray; no talisman or other customs; use midwife; maalam prays into newborn's ear
45.  all children given name, even those who die
46.  no soothsayers for naming; use Holy Qur'an for day names; those who pray consult maalam for name choices
47.  those who pray can choose grandparent's name from the Holy Qur'an
48.  also give name to someone who decides to become Muslim
49.  examples of Muslim names for boys and girls; preparing for the suuna
50.  suuna: prayer, naming, shaving, circumcision for boys, food
51.  wife goes to parent's house until child walks; no particular customs like typical Dagbamba
52.  when wife returns, some men wait for wife to menstruate before sleeping with her


53.  other childhood topics to come

III-13:  Special Problems of Children

Introduction: different types of children

1. children can affect the parents’ lives; wealth and poverty

A bad spirit: alizini

2. child can be an alizini, or bad spirit
3. alizini is not normal; changes itself, threatens parents
4. soothsayers or someone with medicine will recognize the alizini
5. an alizini can come to a child; babies not left alone in a room
6. example: the alizini child of Sumaani
7. example: medicine man took the child; no funeral, no mourning
8. alizini can be like a snake; need for medicine


9. bring different luck to parents; many people fear twins
10. differences: for typical Dagbamba, twins bring issues: constant soothsaying, slaughter goats; Muslims do not do anything special
11. twins from family lines
12. soothsaying for twins’ names; twins as “people of the god”; check to see if twins will go to mother’s family house
13. soothsaying to find what the twins want: nintugari, begging in the market
14. buying and maintaining goats for the twins
15. many issue for typical Dagbamba, but not for Muslims
16. special difficulties if one of the twins dies; don’t say the twin is dead
17. special difficulties if twins are male and female
18. parents sometimes use medicine to kill twins
19. if child dies, image of a pot that has spilled water but not broken

The importance of the mother

20. problems of taking care of children all fall on the parents
21. mother’s love is more than father’s love
22. strength and importance of mother’s side; also with other tribes
23. mother suffers more for a child; strengthens the bond
24. in Dagbon people don’t ask or talk about someone’s mother’s house
25. similar strength of the uncle, especially the mother’s brother with same parents


26. if a newborn’s mother dies, soothsayers know which side will care for baby; respect for orphans
27. after a funeral, funeral elder shares the children on the father’s side
28. small children stay with mothers; if remarry the step-father will take good care of the orphaned children as blessing; some people gather and take care of orphans
29. when the children grow, they return to father’s side house


30. continuation to next topics

III-14:  How Children Live When They Are Young

What the parents teach a child

1. child has to be shown the people in the family
2. child has to be fed
3. child has to be taught right and wrong
4. can beat, but not too much; other ways to control: talk or look at the child
5. shouting sometimes, not other times

How children eat

6. money to buy food outside; sometime give and other times not
7. children follow food and where they can eat
8. how children eat and share food
9. sharing food teaches children friendship

How children mingle and play

10. children roam and learn how to live together
11. can observe children playing to know their character or future; nicknames
12. can observe children to see their weaknesses and strength
13. children quarrel and play; adults should not become involved

Kpara ni Jansi, or Atikatika

14. children can have influence; Kpara ni Jansi, Atikatika
15. some people say that Atikatika spoiled Dagbon
16. nothing happens without a reason; Kpara ni Jansi came at the same time Dagbon spoiled
17. meaning of Kpara ni Jansi
18. Kpara ni Jansi started in Tamale and spread in Dagbon; chiefs stopped it many places

Dances children dance

19. formerly children dance Baamaaya, Takai, Tɔra, and other dances
20. Gumbɛ from Kotokolis; later became Simpa; originally used wooden dalgu, then frame-drums called taamaale, and now metal dalbihi; girls dance it
21. before that, Amajiro and Lua were the popular dances of children
22. go to nearby towns to play and watch; return home late and climb the wall of the house to enter
22. Anakulyɛra, a recent dance; use the beating of Amajiro
23. children bring new dances that become old dances; children start many things

Games children play

24. many games; they resemble children’s games of other towns
25. Biɛɣyaaneea / Biɛɣyaamooya; like hide and seek
26. Tuutirɛ; like sock tag
27. Saamiya murga
28. Sibri sibri
29. Kuraya kuraya; like hot potato
30. A daa lan daai ma; Vooli (tug of war); Salangbari; Nooparsima yaɣli
31. games and songs for particular times: Ŋum mali chɛrga
32. all these game are good; only Kpari ni Jansi is useless


33. four to five years, Muslim school to learn Holy Qu’ran; not everyone
34. children show the type of school they want; some learn English; some learn trades
35. school children are sensible and also foolish
36. sense or foolishness depends on how God made the child to be; schooling hardens children
37. those who learn trades become used to having money; at risk to become thieves
38. better to send children to school; send different children to different types of school
39. Alhaji Ibrahim did not go to school for reading and writing, but has knowledge of Dagbon because was raised in a village; next topics about village children

III-15:  How Girls Grow Up in the Villages


1. village children get sense from respecting elders and doing work

Girls’ early training

2. grinding, sweeping, fetching water

The work of shea nuts

3. seasonal gathering; go in groups or by houses; early morning
4. difficulties: rain, snakes
5. stay late; eat when return home; grinding and making food
6. not white man’s work: the girls can go at different times
7. collect firewood; boil the shea nuts and spread them
8. shelling the shea nuts; how many they get

Harvesting groundnuts

9. groups pick groundnuts for farmers and receive a share
10. how they measure the groundnuts and get their share
11. cheating in the groundnut picking and sharing
12. cheating as a part of farming
13. cheating also a part of harvesting rice, corn, and other crops; different from group farming

How the harvesting work helps families to raise the girls

14. mothers and aunts use the money from shea nuts and groundnuts to but clothes and take care of the girls

How young girls attend the festival markets

15. markets during festival months; important focus for the young girls, from nine to ten years old
16. how they carry their dresses to the market
17. going around the market; how they dress and prepare themselves
18. they go around in groups, with a leader

How the village boys and girls befriend one another at the festival markets

19. how village boys ask to know which towns the girls are from
20. the village boys get their town’s girls to ask about the girls they like
21. boy sends his town’s girl to greet with porridge and cola
22. the girl with a sister or friend will visit the boy; the father and brothers will prepare food; small money when they leave
23. how the friends help one another during Ramadan; cooking and gifts

Friendships and early gender relations

24. these early friendships help them learn how to treat one another; how the befriending has change in towns and modern times
25. the friendship does not interfere with the promised betrothal of a girl; how the situation can get complicated
26. how very young children play at husband and wife; tankpɔ’ luɣsa: early sex play
27. actual sex can damage a girl; treatment for a young girl whose virginity is lost; matter can go to chief
28. tankpɔ’ luɣsa not a custom; just something children do

Training for marriage

29. girls get advice on how to live with a husband
30. the work she will be expected to do, and more advice
31. the training is informal conversation while doing chores; no time because of constant work
32. women do not sit and talk even in compound; working together to prepare food
33. brief time for talking is after eating; women teach work, not old talks

Village girls and town girls

34. village girls follow their mothers or aunts in work; townspeople buy what they need
35. village girls know different types of household work: farming, cooking, grinding
36. in towns, everything is already prepared; no work to teach the girls

Women who train girls

37. training starts young; women who train girls well get more children to raise
38. if a girl is not well trained, sometimes it is the girl’s fault
39. some women abuse the girls with too much work; girls run away
40. people don’t give daughters to a relative who will mistreat them
41. too much suffering will harm a child; protect from too much heavy work
42. some children suffer and do well
43. girls work harder than boys

Preparing for marriage

44. after menstruation, a girl is considered mature and can marry
45. a girl can grow and not be married; no man has looked for her; not a fault
46. sometimes the father has not found a husband for a matured girl
47. bad spirits can make a girl fear men; medicine to treat
48. girl in her father’s house can be betrothed to a man who dies; resembled widow
49. treated like a widow, with soothsaying stones


48. summary: this is how girls live until they are married

III-16:  How Boys Grow Up in the Villages


1. this topic joins to other previous topics

Work that young boys do

2. farming from four years old; look after animals; weaving
3. “monkey-waiters”: use wooden drum to drive monkeys away from farm; now not common
4. carrying hens and fowls to the farm

Catching termites and ants to feed hens and fowls

5. types of termites and ants
6. how the boys catch tambiegu
7. how the boys catch yoba
8. how the boys catch wurikoo

The children’s work and suffering

9. besides farming, collect firewood and grass to sell; how they help one another
10. if mistreated, children run away to other relatives; some work in town
11. boys do work with strength, but less work than girls; cannot say who suffers more
12. after eating at night, the boys sit with their fathers or with one another and tell stories

How the fathers help to get wives for the boys

13. the boys farm and work for their fathers until matured; fathers will help find wives for them
14. the good name of the father helps the boy to get a wife
15. if the boys do not work for their father, they will have difficulty to get a wife on their own
16. getting a wife is very difficult for village boys, even for grown young men
17. Muslim belief that father should get wife for son is not always standing; role of money
18. formerly not the case, but now even villages use money and not character when getting a wife
19. if a child does not help the father, the father will not help the child
20. a child who helps the parents will have respect to get a wife even if the parents are dead