A Drummer's Testament:   chapter outlines and links

Volume III:  In Our Living

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

Volume III Part 2:  Family

III-8:  Family and Lineage

Family terminology

1.  parts of a family and how they are called
2.  the father’s side and mother’s side
3.  children address father’s brothers as “father,” mother’s sisters as “mother”
4.  aunts and uncles
5.  grandparents
6.  brothers and sisters
7.  grandchildren

Terms of address extend the sense of family

8.  family terms show closeness:  many mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters
9.  does not affect inheritance
10.  don’t show the differences between different sides; address them similarly
11.  in-laws do the same in addressing husband’s or wife’s family

Family, line, and tribe

12.  family like a tree with branches; from Adam and Hawa; separates and extends
13.  dɔɣim and dunoli:  immediate relatives and line
14.  dunoli, zuliya, and daŋ:  line and descent group
15.  example:  location of the dunoli with family head
16.  women and drummers know more about the family

Knowledge of the family

17.  education has spoiled the family; now no knowledge of the family
18.  need to ask and learn about the family
19.  formerly children spent more time with family elders
20.  drummers and women show the family, especially at funeral houses

Example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s lines

21.  drummers show the family and the origins of the line
22.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s mother’s line from Naa Siɣli
23.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s father’s line from Naa Garba
24.  example:  both lines from Naa Luro
25.  drummers have knowledge of people’s families

Example:  family doors of Yendi chiefs can die or shift

26.  family like a tree:  some branches grow and other branches die
27.  Naa Garba’s line
28.  Naa Andani Jɛŋgbarga’s line
29.  Naa Abdulai and Naa Andani
30.  chieftaincy dispute from the time of Naa Abilabila
31.  the strength of Naa Abdulai’s line in chieftaincy

Chiefs and commoners

32.  door to chieftaincy can die; all commoners come from former chiefs
33.  a chief is addressed as “my grandfather”
34.  if a child is missing, drummer’s announce that chief‘s grandchild is missing


35.  talks of family will continue

III-9:  How a Family Separates

Introduction:  different ways a family separates

1.  family separation from marriage and children
2.  originally one family:  Adam and Hawa
3.  a family separates in three ways

Marrying a different line

4.  example:  drummer’s daughter marries blacksmith
5.  example:  soothsayer’s daughter marries maalam
6.  example:  barber marries drummer’s daughter
7.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s sister married a butcher; how the line is separating
8.  Alhaji Ibrahim has given a daughter to a drummer; expands the line
9.  marrying outside the family line kills the line
10.  maintaining the connection of your daughter’s children to their grandfather’s house
11.  marrying inside the line is not compulsory; a choice; mingling and friendship are senior to family
12.  marrying inside the family; marrying cousins; common among typical Dagbamba
13.  examples:  Naa Zanjina’s wife Laamihi; Naa Siɣli’s wife Aminara
14.  marrying inside the family keeps the family alive; funeral example
15.  the family’s door is its work; the separation comes with the childrens’ children
16.  the different doors have standing in tradition:  butchers, blacksmiths, barbers, drummers
17.  butchers’ line from Naa Dimani; they have their chiefs
18.  blacksmiths, barbers, and butchers are one family; some outside people now enter their work
19.  children do their father’s work; different work can separate the family
20.  giving daughter to someone who does the same work holds the family together

Example:  separation of Savelugu drummers and Karaga drummers

21.  example of how a line can separate or mix
22.  Karaga Lun-Naa Baakuri from house of Palo; married daughter of chief; two lines
22.  learning the story; Karaga drummer praised Palo-Naa Kosaɣim among grandfathers
23.  how the door separated with Karaga Lun-Naa Blemah
24.  all drummers from Bizuŋ; Abudu and Andani house drummers respect that
25.  different towns’ drummers are one family with different doors; from Bizuŋ and Lunʒɛɣu
26.  separation from marrying different women; drummers are one family with different doors

Chiefs and commoners

27.  child of a chief is a prince; marrying a chief leads to separation from family
28.  child prince stays with mother’s side, but no respect or allegiance to the mother’s family
29.  mother’s side does not help a prince get chieftaincy; princes go to father’s side
30.  some chiefs share their children with their brothers or elders
31.  chief’s family does not extend as much as commoner’s family

Marrying different tribes

32.  some mixing with other tribes, but the children are separated
33.  mixing with a tribe like Mossi is different from mixing with Gurunsi; spoils family
34.  Gurunsis were slaves; children won’t participate in customs; quarrels in the house; bluffing
35.  modern times more mixing; spoiling families; still an issue in Dagbon
36.  all right to marry other tribe’s maalams (Hausas, Zambarimas); children remained in Dagbon
37.  marrying other tribes was refused
38.  even useless Dagbana is better; the grandchildren remain in the family
39.  Dagbamba respect a large and extended family


40.  transition to next chapter about what strengthens families

III-10:  What Has Strength in Dagbamba Families

Staying together with people

1.  an extended family has strength
2.  family strength in trust; people coming together; strength of friendship
3.  give daughter to marry a friend; friend’s children become family
4.  trust, patience, coming together, sharing good and bad
5.  good to do things as a group; importance of funerals
6.  take children to funeral houses to know the family
7.  some families increase; other decrease
8.  should not inherit anything from someone who did not want the family
9.  should not attend the funeral of someone who did not want the family

The benefits of a big family

10.  respect for a big family; include every relative
11.  example:  funeral elder collects the children of the dead person
12.  Dagbamba way of living:  don’t separate people from the family
13.  Dagbamba way of living:  gather relatives; don’t refuse them

Sharing children helps the family

14.  give your children to be raised by your siblings
15.  sharing children extends the family
16.  voluntary; drummers do it to help child learn; child won’t be spoiled
17.  responsibility to a child who is given to you to raise; trust; no gossip
18.  if child is not being trained well, take the child back
19.  not training the child well breaks the family
20.  share daughters to sisters
21.  importance of the training to help the child
22.  Alhaji Ibrahim raising many children from his brothers
23.  a child may not know who is the real father
24.  a child may see the love between junior and senior father and understand his relationship
25.  example:  son Alhassan refused to farm; how Alhaji Ibrahim challenged him and helped him

Strength of the mother in how children bond

26.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s brothers raised one another’s children; respect among them
27.  children of one mother and one father have strongest bond
28.  the strength comes from the mother; different mothers may not have one mouth
29.  example:  Naa Andani and Naa Alhassan did not have the same mother
30.  second strongest is having mothers from one mother and one father
31.  children of different mothers may or may not bond; weakest among princes
32.  different mothers versus one mother:  important aspect of family life in Dagbon
33.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s house has many people living together; brothers from the same mother


34.  summary of importance of extending the family; transition to the talks about children

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 

Volume III Part 4:  Householding

III-17:  How Dagbamba Marry


1.  different ways to get a wife for Muslims and typical Dagbamba; drummers get wives easily

Dagbamba way:  greeting or respecting an older person

2.  young man can begin greeting an old person and helping him
3.  old person will tell the boy’s father that he will give him a wife
4.  young man can be greeting an old woman with firewood or foodstuffs
5.  old woman will tell the boy’s father that she will give him a wife
6.  the father and his brothers will send people to greet the old woman
7.  to get a wife, have to respect and greet the people who have the woman

Examples:  how Alhaji helped his brothers to get wives

8.  how young Alhaji Ibrahim greeted an old woman his father used to help
9.  when the woman died, her daughter gave a girl to Alhaji Ibrahim, who gave her to his brother
10.  Alhaji Ibrahim also got a wife for his brother  Sumaani

How Alhaji Ibrahim got his wives

11.  how Alhaji Ibrahim befriended Marta with friendship money
12.  befriending Ayishetu; Marta and Gurumpaɣa ask Alhaji Ibrahim to see their families
13.  Alhaji Ibrahim consulted elders for advice; advised only to marry two and not three
14.  Alhaji Ibrahim was working and was capable
15.  how Alhaji Ibrahim married Marta first; given to him through Mangulana’s father
16.  Alhaji Ibrahim married Gurumpaɣa next
17.  Ayishetu agrees for Alhaji Ibrahim to give her to Sumaani as a wife; their children
18.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s wives gave birth

Alhaji Ibrahim’s respect

19.  drummers do not suffer to get a wife; drummers have a good name
20.  how Alhassan used Alhaji Ibrahim’s name to get a wife
21.  how Alhaji Ibrahim helps people greet the family of a girl; example of man from Bimbila

Typical Dagbamba:  when a girl is promised

22.  greet the family with calabash of cola and money; maalams pray
23.  if the girl is still young, will remain with her parents; how they send to the husband’s family
24.  greetings and cola between the two families; how they talk
25.  maalam called for prayers; the girl is promised; the husband’s family returns home
26.  girl in parents’ house, the husband will send greetings, guinea fowls and yams during festival months
27.  if someone in the wife’s house dies, the husband will perform the funeral

The wedding and sending the wife to the husband’s house

28.  when girl reaches menstruation, they will set a day; Wednesday or Saturday
29.  send the girl to the husband; led by a small girl and a young boy who carries a stick
30.  new wife to room of a senior woman; slaughter a hen for the boy who brought the girl
31.  next day, they send the boy and girl home with cola and money to share to the witnesses
32.  husband must kill a hen to welcome her; she cooks and that night sleeps with the husband

How Muslims marry

33.  different from typical Dagbamba; drumming at the amaliya’s house
34.  pay sadaachi and gather items for the leefɛ:  send food; kanwa porridge
35.  sadaachi amount can vary; sometimes flexibility with the leefɛ
36.  women throw zabla night before the wedding

Tying the wedding

37.  Sunday weddings are common, especially  in towns; sometimes Thursday
38.  husband’s representatives and maalams at wife’s house; sadaachi paid
39.  cola for drummers; women dance at wedding house
40.  bride stays inside house; in night, she is bathed and led to the husband’s house
41.  next day cook food; the ones who brought the wife go home with gifts

How chiefs get their wives

42.  chiefs get many wives; did not pay; wives as gifts; bad girl can be given to a chief
43.  formerly chiefs could catch women as wives; would not catch a drummer’s wife or daughter
44.  no longer catch women; search for wives like other people

Advice to newlyweds

45.  advice to a daughter to respect the husband and his family
46.  new husband should work to provide for the wife; no roaming or chasing women

Engaged women who have sex before they go to their husbands

47.  typical Dagbamba used to send cola to wife’s family to show was a virgin or not
48.  formerly could be a case; if girl refused to show her lover, could be made a chief’s wife
49.  the case could result in debt for the person who had sex with the promised girl
50.  most men would not complain; the girl can refuse him if he collects money as compensation
51.  sometimes they would replace the girl who refused with her sister

Chiefs’ courts and civil courts in such cases

52.  at chief’s house, whipping a girl who refused to name her lovers
53.  those she named would face charges at the chief’s court; debt imposed
54.  after such a case, the marriage could stand or could be broken

Kidnapping and eloping

55.  sometimes people kidnap a girl; a case for the chief; still happens in villages
56.  in modern times, government courts overrule chief’s courts; spoils the custom
57.  sometimes the boy begs the court or the chief, and the elopement stands
58.  Alhaji Ibrahim sometimes begs the fathers of stolen girls

Government courts versus chiefs’ courts

59.  government courts follow money and lies; spoiled custom
60.  girls sometimes send their own case to the government courts; court rules for girl
61.  civil courts say girls should choose husbands; the chiefs’ courts are not to judge cases
62.  chiefs not longer judge; civil courts can make incorrect decisions from bribes; spoil custom
63.  Dagbamba chieftaincy has no strength; those with money cheat, and chiefs cannot act

Customary way of finding husbands for women:  better to look at the family of the man

64.  in Dagbamba custom, men who gave respect would get wives
65.  in Islam, fathers give daughters away but don’t force the girls; villagers hold older customs
66.  if daughter refused, typical Dagbamba removed her from the family
67.  now the parents ask the girl; many girls prefer the parents to find their husbands
68.  the girl chooses a man, the parents can agree with or refuse her choice
69.  the parents look at the family; refuse slave families, houses without food, even rich people
70.  girls’ choosing spoils custom; the father knows the family of the man better than the girl
71.  custom has strength, but white men and government spoiled the custom
72.  girls who choose often change their minds
73.  formerly girls did not complain; modern girls now choose; more confusion
74.  cannot compare custom to white man’s ways; better to choose the husband’s family
75.  typical Dagbamba used to remove girls from the family or even curse them


76.  transition to the talk of bachelors and women without husbands

III-18:  The Life of Bachelors


1.  bachelor’s talks not like a child or a married person
2.  bachelor like a prince without chieftaincy; does not know about householding

Types of bachelors

3.  someone whose wife has left him is not a true bachelor
4.  sickness can prevent someone from getting a wife
5.  if wife leaves a sick person, not like a bachelor

Bachelors have no standing

6.  bachelors are not consulted because have not held people
7.  bachelors do not form groups
8.  bachelors can do good work or have money, but do not get respect
9.  a bachelor dies alone

How bachelors live

10.  bachelor eats anything and sleeps anywhere; doesn’t look at others
11.  stays in his father’s house; depends on the women in the house to wash and cook
12.  some bachelors wash their own things
13.  how a bachelors gets food and eats
14.  bachelors who give respect get respect and get a good name; can get a wife
15.  such bachelors give gifts inside the house and
16.  bachelors make a town hot; roaming like dogs
17.  some bachelors find good women
18.  bachelors girlfriends can cook for them; can get a wife from them

Bachelors who are on their own

19.  some bachelors don’t want a wife; useless
20.  bachelors without parents can attach themselves to a married person
21.  useless bachelors do not get wives
22.  bachelors who only befriend bachelors do not get wives; no name in public
23.  bachelors can have money but won’t get a wife
24.  divorced man can search for money before marrying again, but bachelors lie
25.  man should talk the truth to a woman he is courting; she will see through lies
26.  a woman will respect the man who tells the truth
27.  if a young man is not good, having a wife will cool him down

Bachelors who are studying and postponing marriage

28.  bachelors who are studying have no fault; will marry later
29.  also bachelors who study Arabic; will marry later
30.  bachelors who also travel and learn work are the same
31.  many differences among bachelors

Women without husbands

32.  difference among women without husbands; include divorcees and widows
33.  a girl in her family house has no fault
34.  girls go around if parent do not provide for them
35.  grown women who are taking care of themselves:  their lives vary

Differences of women bachelors when adjusting to marriage

36.  a girl who has never married has to be treated with patience and sense or will run home
37.  inexperience can break up a marriage of a bachelor woman and bachelor man
38.  a young woman bachelor does not know work well; requires patience
37.  if she runs away, other women will not accept the bachelor woman’s complaint
39.  experience will help a man or a woman stay together
40.  a woman who has married before will give respect; will make other wives look bad
41.  woman bachelor can spoil relationship with other wife and also her own marriage
42.  a woman bachelor has to be treated differently, with patience
43.  a divorced woman also needs to be treated with strength


44.  conclusion and recapitulation

III-19:  Why Dagbamba Marry Many Wives


1.  beginning the section on householding

Marrying many wives and Dagbamba custom

2.  marrying many wives started with the chiefs, then those who could hold people, then maalams
3.  polygamy is Dagbamba custom; different from white man’s custom
4.  need more than one wife if wife travels or gives birth and goes to family house
5.  receive strangers
6.  having many wives shows respect and personhood
7.  a person without wives and children is abused as useless

Olden days difficulties to get a wife

8.  previously people only had one wife; no food
9.  strong people could collect women; whipping at the chief’s court
10.  many people became old before they could get a wife
11.  this talk from Alhaji Ibrahim’s father; even greeting elders before they had daughters
12.  chiefs got wives by force; also, women were fewer in number
13.  not sure why the women were not many in olden days; maybe war or starvation
14.  maybe the shortage of women was not because of anything

In modern times, having one wife is a problem

15.  women are more available; if one wife travels, husband is tempted to commit adultery
16.  adultery brings bad things
17.  if one wife, can be deceived; no perspective; husband will not know about the marriage
18.  one wife with one husband are happy together, until another wife comes
19.  most men with one wife want more wives
20.  a strong woman can prevent the husband from getting another wife
21.  how Christian marriage with a ring kills a family; inheritance
22.  in Christian marriage, the family is not extended
23.  one wife means worries:  poor person, useless person, villagers
24.  women are many in the towns, fewer in the villages; difficult for villagers to marry
25.  villagers with one wife suffer when the wife gives birth

How chiefs get many wives

26.  princes get wives before chieftaincy because of their respect and means
27.  titles of chiefs’ wives:  Paani and Paampaɣa are first two; last wife is Komlana
28.  women marry chiefs for money, status, and to have children who are princes
29.  chiefs also get bad women from families; also catch women; sisters’ daughters
30.  chief also gets wives from his elders when he arrives in a town

How wives get their rooms in a house

31.  how the chief groups his wives into rooms; senior wives and roomchildren
32.  wives get their own rooms by giving birth; also get cooking days
33.  Muslims are different; the wife gets a room to hold the leefɛ
34.  Muslim amaliya starts cooking immediately; young one might be trained by husband’s mother; some people wait forty days
35.  with typical Dagbamba, the wife must give birth before she gets her cooking; commoners and chiefs

Cooking, roomchildren, and sex in the chief’s house

36.  as the chief gets more wives, he may group many of them in the rooms
37.  the roomchild works for the senior wife until she gets her cooking
38.  chief sleeps with the wife who cooks
39.  two days for each wife to cook; roomchildren do not have cooking and don’t sleep with chief
40.  how the chief sleeps with the roomchildren
41.  if the roomchild gets pregnant, the child is not senior to other children
42.  the Paani will determine when to tell the chief about the child
43.  if a woman without cooking leaves a child in the chief’s house, the child will not become a chief
44.  how chiefs’ wives commit adultery; can lie about a man and give him trouble
45.  gradually the roomchildren will get their rooms, their cooking, and their own roomchildren

Others who marry many wives

46.  people with money get many wives; have to be able to feed everyone in the house
47.  maalams can marry up to four wives; the waljira is senior
48.  commoners can marry to the extent they can feed the household

III-20:  How Dagbamba Feed Their Families


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

III-21:  How a Husband and Wife Love One Another


1.  differences between typical Dagbamba and Muslims

Dagbamba husbands' main work is providing food

2.  money or food for cooking; the most important thing is to establish trust

Buying cloth for the wife

3.  buying clothes and shoes
4.  how a rich person and a chief buy cloth
5.  how maalams, commoners, and farmers give cloth; often given during Ramadan
6.  cloth for Ramadan; can give money; woman adds her money to choose her cloth
7.  how giving the money instead of buying cloth shows the husband's respect
8.  chief’s wives have no choice
9.  how commoners beg their wives to accept the gift they can afford

Other good works by the husband

10.  respect for in-laws; greeting the wife’s housepeople
11.  buying of gifts, animals
12.  show concern for wife’s feelings; does not chase outside women
13.  sharing things and work; protecting the wife from bad things
14.  exception:  typical Dagbamba husbands do not do washing, but for man to cook and to pound fufu are inside custom
15.  love the children of the wife
16.  villagers show trust in their wives to hold his best things
17.  if there is no love, then trouble, blame, quarreling, selfishness; different from this talk

Good works Muslim husbands do

18.  start good works before marriage; gifts; get all the things for when they marry
19.  arrival of the wife at the house:  the unveiling; slaughter animals to prepare food
20.  preparing and furnishing the wife’s room
21.  help the wife to learn to read; greet his in-laws; protect wife from suffering


22.  Muslim husband will assist the wife’s family if there is a funeral
23.  Dagbamba funerals have more expenses for in-laws; cloth, scarf, sheep, money, food, music
24.  a good wife and mother will attract help for the funeral from the whole family of the husband
25.  Dagbamba try harder for a woman who has no children; example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s senior wife

The good works of a wife who loves her husband

26   women’s help feeding guests at a funeral protects the man from shame
27.  women are the foundation of funerals; get blessings from God
28.  women get blessings and respect; man should not put her into difficulty
29.  have to respect woman as a wife; no adultery; should not beat a woman
30.  the woman takes care of the house:  cooking, sweeping, washing, going for water and firewood
31.  good to people in the house; does not gossip or quarrel outside; gifts; speaks well of people
32.  a wife can show her love with sex
33.  help the husband; even goes to help on the farm; buys things for the husband
34.  protect her husband from trouble or shame; give her own money to perform funerals
35.  good works and help for the husband’s parents; wife’s love resembles a husband’s love


36:  conclusion and transition

III-22:  How Women Work and Help One Another


1.  other work apart from cooking and trading in old days and among typical Dagbamba

Women's work

2.  cooking:  grinding grain with grinding stone (nɛli and nɛkaŋa)
3.  cooking:  pounding in a mortar (toli)
4.  plastering the walls of the house; gather with other neighborhood women; how they feed them
5.  plastering:  mixing the plaster (tari); how they use their hands to spread it
6.  plastering and pounding the floors with flat stick (sampani); gather other women to help
7.  sealing the walls:  use water prepared from pods of kpalgu tree (dasandi)
8.  in the towns, plastering is done by masons; grinding mills have replaced grinding stones
9.  modern shortages:  need to return to the customary tools and work
10.  spinning:  removing the seeds from cotton with guntɔbu
11.  spinning:  spinning the cotton inside guntarga with kalo and jɛni
12.  spinning:  selling the cotton or keeping it for funeral

How the women live with one another

13.  many women like to live in a house with other wives
14.  many women who are single wives do not understand the experience of cooperation and help
15.  they help one another to make shea butter or to trade
16.  help one another with problems like funerals; accompany to the funeral house
17.  help with weddings; gifts for the bride; also gifts when a child is born
18.  protect one another from shame; contribute money to a group fund; wear some cloth in a group
19.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim’s amaliya in two groups; how they contribute
20.  example:  how the group contributed when the wife’s daughter married
21.  example:  how the group of forty women will sew similar cloths for a wedding

Bad women

22.  some women are selfish and not helpful; some women bluff others with what they have
23.  because of bluffing, many women do not want to borrow from one another
24.  contrast with the generosity of some women who always help people on their own
25.  many types of bad women:  selfish, bluffing, borrowing money, gossiping, adultery
26.  need for husband and wife to listen and understand; bad women don’t listen to husband or cowives

The work in the house

27.  when women help one another with the work, they are happy in the house; they like where they are
28.  the women know the benefit of their work
29.  women’s sense:  they remember everything and will remind the husband when they quarrel
30.  despite women’s sense, God has given men control; women accept their position

Women do not talk about the people or the issues in their household

31.  men look at women’s work to know their hearts; women do not talk about their house
32.  example:  how women refused to talk about the people in their house
33.  women follow the talk of their husbands
34.  many differences; cannot generalize; men and women have many ways to live together
35.  Alhaji Ibrahim will try to separate the talks; John should ask questions to help clarify

How women communicate in the house

36.  how women gather in a house to make one mouth to talk to their husband
37.  singing proverbs to communicate, especially shy women; can make complaint or cause trouble
38.  a woman is like the heart; can bring good or bad talks

The bad traits of women

39.  women do not forget; they remember what the husband has said in the past
40.  someone who does not forget has bad sense
41.  women have more sense than men, but their sense can do bad things
42.  some women can kill their husbands; use medicines in food

Dagbamba stories about bad women

43.  old Dagbamba tell a story about an egg; how the husband tested the wife
44.  the story comes from what they have seen; some women can do bad things
45.  typical Dagbamba do not tell their wives house much money they have

Sharing and not sharing secrets

46.  a husband and wife know each other’s secrets; a woman will not show all her secrets
47.  example:  woman will not ask a man for sex
48.  a man cannot know all the talks of women; they do hard work but they are jealous

III-23:  Sex and Rivalry in a House


1.  sex can strengthen or cause trouble in marriage
2.  differences emerge among women in polygamous household
3.  sex causes jealousy among wives

Sex outside marriage

4.  sex before marriage is not common; couples don’t know their sexual compatibility
5.  divorced women who are remarrying:  some refuse and some accept
6.  sex with girlfriends only rarely leads to marriage
7.  even pregnancy does not necessarily lead to marriage; the man or woman or her family can refuse
8.  differences among women regarding sex can lead or not lead to marriage
9.  differences in sexual behavior of young women
10.  differences between friendship money and paying for sex

Sex inside the household

11.  sex strengthens the bond between husband and wife
12.  the woman’s sexual preferences determine the nature of the sexual relationship
13.  sexual strength and appetites are from character; not learned
14.  some men chase outside women; differences in sexual pleasure from different partners
15.  differences causes problems; difficult to give equal attention; women see the differences

Scheduling sex in the polygamous household

16.  women sleep with husband on their cooking day; men get tired trying to please all
17.  jealousy among women when the other wives are having sex
18.  how women know if the husband has been having sex with the others; from washing
19.  a neglected woman will respond:  proverbs, return to her family house; how the man responds
20.  if the woman does good works in the house, will stay; otherwise will divorce


21.  jealousy among women; they know the husband’s relations with their cowives
22.  no remedy for jealousy; jealous woman is looking for vindication
23.  sex can strengthen or weaken marriage; need for balance and moderation


24.  rivalry among cowives; four wives or two wives separate themselves; especially cooking days
25.  menstruation days also bring out rivalry; sex not forbidden but not common during menstruation
26.  having many wives is difficult; not all women are jealous, but many are
27.  three wives is most difficult; shifting rivalries of two against one
28.  husband cannot separate the quarrel; sometimes will put the three wives into separate houses
29.  some three wives get along; or the rivals all quarrel with their husband instead of each other

Examples of rivalry and jealousy

30.  rivals can use medicine against one another or against the husband
31.  rivalry extends to stepchildren; medicine and abuse against the children
32.  rivalry over gifts; have to give to each wife individually and equally
33.  wives are possessive about other responsibilities on their cooking days
34.  the wives resent and work against a favored wife; gossip outside the house
35.  jealous woman has no shame; will work against the person who will help her in the house
36.  the jealousy is general among women; examples of bluffing each other

Women who are happy

37.  women who are the only wife are happy; examples
38.  a woman who is for herself; trading and in her own house; no man trouble


39.  cannot know everything about a woman; secretive; more complicated than men
40.  women take quarrels to a higher extent; overstate and lie about issues
41.  can only trust women to an extent; too much jealousy; hold onto bad feelings; good and bad

III-24:  How a Husband and Wife Separate


1.  Alhaji Ibrahim can speak from experience

Importance of knowing a woman before marriage

2.  men do not think before marrying a woman; does what he wants
3.  man should try to know the character of a woman
4.  important to know the parents; how Dagbamba find their wives

Lack of children

5.  stress and gossip if a couple is childless; from woman’s friends, not parents
6.  frustration leads to quarrels; separation begins

How the separation proceeds; wife returns to her family

7.  woman to her father’s family, husband will follow; she returns but further quarrels
8.  woman to her uncle; husband will follow; the separation is decided
9.  several month before collecting the wife’s things; then the separation becomes final
10.  children remain with father if they are walking; infants will return to father when they walk

Quarrels among wives:  jealousy

11.  when a new wife arrives, senior wife may become jealous and leave
12.  senior wife may abuse new wife; no blame if the new wife leaves
13.  husband needs to be strong and refuse to choose; threaten to divorce all of them

Quarrels among wives:  childbirth

14.  if a new wife gives birth, a childless wife may leave
15.  if senior wife with girl children and new wife with boys, senior wife may make medicine
16.  especially with chiefs and rich people; other wives will not like a wife who has boys
17.  some women with girls will leave on their own when new wife has boys
18.  the senior wife can put medicine in food to kill the boys or kill the new wife
19.  medicine can ruin a person’s life, so the new wife may leave the house
20.  the senior wife’s strength will overcome the love of the new wife and the husband
21.  the husband may send boys away to be raised, or he may divorce the senior wife
22.  wives cannot refuse each others’ food; they will fear to use medicine; other ways to repair it
23.  exception:  wife may like the one with boys, thinking she will also get that luck

Quarreling in a house

24.  too much quarreling, man will divorce all the wives; he has “bought his life”
25.  a house with constant quarreling is vulnerable to medicine and witchcraft
26.  story of a witch giving medicine; find people who “don’t want themselves”
27.  someone who quarrels “does not want” himself or herself

The response to jealousy

28.  new wife comes, refusal and bad examples from senior wife; husband has to complain
29.  sometimes the wives will use sense to live together better
30.  after husband talks, each wife will decide if she will leave the house or live with the other
31.  when wife leaves, husband should not mind whatever story she tells her family

Why a woman leaves a man

32.  the man can be at fault; a useless man can drive a woman away
33.  a woman can also leave on her own choice; counting the faults of the husband
34.  husband doesn’t care if the wife is sick
35.  husband does not greet the woman’s family
36.  husband does not perform funerals in woman’s family
37.  husband does not buy clothes for the wife
38.  husband tries to account for how the wife buys food
39.  husband becomes impotent; or woman does not want to sleep with man
40.  husband has bad habits the wife didn’t know; husband beats the wife
41.  husband has lied to court the woman
42.  cowives will abuse the woman
43.  husband’s mother doesn’t like the wife and will abuse her; doesn’t want to share
44.  some families are descended from slaves
45.  some women will leave if they find that the husband is from a slave family
46.  a family arranges a marriage, and one of the couple does not like the other

How Alhaji Ibrahim divorced three of his wives


47.  in mother’s house after giving birth; became pregnant by another man
48.  pregnancy from another man is dangerous to an unweaned child
49.  Alhaji Ibrahim sent people to the mother’s house, but Gurumpaɣa did not return to him
50.  Gurumpaɣa refused to return; the conversation about the pregnancy
51.  Alhaji Ibrahim went himself; they refused to identify the other man
52.  Alhaji Ibrahim brought a case against his in-laws in the chief’s court
53.  suing in-laws is unusual and against custom, especially if there has been birth
54.  Alhaji Ibrahim explained about the pregnancy; the court summoned Gurumpaɣa and her mother
55.  the court asked Gurumpaɣa’s mother about the pregnancy, and she refused to say
56.  Gurumpaɣa explained her relationship to the other man; he was joined to the suit
57.   how the court charged the mother and the other man
58.  the judgment and fines; Alhaji Ibrahim accepts the judgment of the court
59.  Alhaji Ibrahim sent people to end the marriage; later he collected his children from Gurumpaɣa, but not the other man’s child
60.  in Dagbon, a father can give his pregnant daughter to a chief; such children have spoiled chieftaincy


61.  continually quarreled with Alhaji Ibrahim’s other wife, Fati


62.  did not group herself with the other wives
63.  did not tell Alhaji Ibrahim about her uncle’s sickness and death
64.  ignored the other wives at the funeral
65.  Alhaji Ibrahim wrote a letter to Alima’s family to come for her
66.  her family collected her things; no one knew why
67.  did not visit her former cowife in hospital who was taking care of her children
68.  did not attend the cowife’s funeral; people understood
69.  why to confront or not confront someone who does bad to you; conclusion

Volume III Part 5:  Old Age

III-25:  Widows

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

III-26:  The Life of Old People

The respect and works of old age

1.  old age come from God; many talks; respect for old person, rich person, chief, maalam
2.  comparison to chief, to rich person, to maalam with intelligence
3.  old age is not simply age or white hair; it is how one holds oneself
4.  old person holds himself; tried to repair things, whether succeed or fail
5.  old people consult and repair quarrels or problems that spoil people’s way of living
6.  in a quarrel, give the right to the elder person
7.  an old person holds people; acts as if blind and dumb and deaf, acts with patience
8.  an old person without people is not old; cannot hold his children; not a family head
9.  an old person is family head; old age is in the heart and will come into the open
10.  all family events and work require the presence of an elder; sacrifices
11.  old person also holds the area around a house; helps anyone in the area
12.  an old person’s presence reduces consequences at the chief’s court
13.  people put the old person’s name in front without informing him, and he accepts
14.  people do not argue with an old person who lies
15.  old age comes to someone who feeds and takes care of his housepeople
16.  an old person holds people in a house; housepeople farm and help him; give him leadership

The old age of women

17.  an old woman will get the same respect; has taken care of the children in the house
18.  respect an old woman who is a mother; fear of the mother’s house; can swear a curse
19.  people who are feared in a household:  mother, mother’s brother, father
20.  old woman without children also gets respect from housepeople
21.  an old woman with bad character does not get respect
22.  men have eldership more than women
23.  a woman whose old age would make her the family head will give the eldership to a man
24.  people will accuse the woman family head of witchcraft
25.  women know the family talks and teach the children; they get respect in old age; example:  Alhaji Iddi and his mother

Taking care of old people

26.  Dagbamba take care of their elders; food, clothing, gifts; God repays the good
27.  a good old person without children:  people take good care; it appears he has children
28.  if people let an old person suffer, their things will spoil
29.  if children neglect their old person, their mother or father can curse them
30.  old person’s talks stand and do work in a family; continuing presence

Old age and drumming

31.  transition to examples of old age among some drumming elders
32.  a drummer is an old person; knows the talks of yesterday; addressed as “grandfather”
33.  Alhaji Ibrahim is an old person in drumming because of his leadership; did not choose it
34.  Alhaji Ibrahim has shared money among drummers for thirty years, even in other towns
35.  an old person can talk of yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Alhassan Lumbila’s old age

36.  example:  the character of Alhassan Lumbila; how children followed him to the farm
37.  Alhassan’s relation to Mangulana and Sheni; Alhassan’s seniority in drumming
38.  Alhassan’s wives and children
39.  the incident of Gulkpe-Naa Iddi, Toombihi, and Alhassan Lumbila
40.  Alhassan received money from anyone who beat drumming in Tamale; his respect

Alhaji Adam’s old age

41.  Alhaji Adam has the same personality as Alhassan Lumbila; does not get annoyed
42.  the age of Alhaji Adam; the oldest drummer but does not have Alhassan’s old age
43.  Alhassan’s talk; Alhaji Adam does not get money like Alhassan; only Alhaji Ibrahim gives him his share
44.  proverb about white matter from the eye
45.  Alhaji Adam’s acknowledgment to Alhaji Ibrahim for helping him

Sheni’s old age

46.  Sheni is like a chief; how Sheni suffered for Alhassan Lumbila
47.  Sheni also has Alhassan’s character; white heart; his friendship with John
48.  why Sheni gives John money
49.  how Sheni greets Alhaji Ibrahim, despite being the elder
50.  Sheni knows many people; has more respect and more old age than Alhaji Adam

Comparing Alhaji Adam and Alhassan Lumbila

51.  Alhaji Adam has respect, but not up to his father’s; entered chieftaincy talk; Andani side
52.  Alhassan did not choose among drummers; took all to be his children; Tamale drummers are Abudu side
53.  Alhassan told Alhaji Adam that one day he would not get benefit; an old man’s talk happens


54.  the talk is relevant to all people, not just Dagbamba

Part 6:  Conclusion

III-27:  Reflections on the History of the Work


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 and 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