Friday, February 20, 2015


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Princess Yennenga(Mother of Mossi)
 Takai is one of the oldest drum rhythms of the Dagombas, and the story tells of how they came to be so close to the Mossi tribe..Takai is in the form of a suite or medley. Each section has its own name, musical phrases,and dance movements. Takai dancers, arranged in a large circle, hold rods in their right hands that they strike together. Wearing smocks that flare out when they wheel around, dancers strike rods to their front and rear on the cadence moment of the drum rhythm. The clacking sound of the dancers' rods is part of the overall percussive music of Takai. The joy of performance comes from the way the drummers and dancers meet at each cadence point in the recycling musical theme.
There was a time before Naa Gbewaa,The reason I say that  is that Naa Gbewaa bore Naa Sitobu and Naa Sitobu's son was Naa Nyaɣsi.  Before these kings we had a chief whom we call "Tohibu."  Tohibu--I learned he fought many, many wars..Naa Tohibu lost his daughter  hunter found the woman, Naa Tohibu's daughter, alone in the bush.  She could notunderstand the hunter's language.  The hunter also was unable to understand her.But they were in the bush together and as far as they looked alike human to human,the hunter was able to give her water and food.Days passed They found love and they produced family.During those times, if some nation's leader called upon our chiefs--"I want to make war. Come and help me.our warriors would go to help It was because were very brave and strong so all nierbouring towns trusted us.It happened that people of Fadan Gurma,Those people are like our grandmothers.Our grandfather came with empty hands.they didn't come with a wife.Most of our forefathers came into the land as bacherlors so they married most of the Fadan Gurma.. When war came to them again, they asked for our help. 
Takai dancers
Our people went.  We were fighting for them when this Takai came.In war, there are times when the warriors stop fighting so that everybody can go back to a place where they can sleep.  The next day,they start the fight again.So, in this particular war,our people were pushing the other people--pushing them far.You know, when you are fighting, you should never go backwards.When you are going back it means that your enemy is defeating you.Our people had pushed these people backwards,when the time came to stop.The warriors were going back to rest, but the chief said they shouldn't go back too far."We have collected something.  We should remain here." So, they made camp there.That night one of the warriors went to urinate but some drummers say he went to smoke tobacco, So, this man was relieving himself when he heard someone moaning,  "Umm umm--N chi me."  He said to himself, "What!?  Who is speaking like our
people?"in our agbani language we say, "N kpi me--n kpiya."  When he heard someone saying, "N chi me," he thought that sickness was holding the person's throat so that he could not talk properly.  "N chi me--n kpi me." When the Dagomba man heard, "I am dying," he rushed toward that voice.  He held the other man and said, "Wula m-bala?"  Who are you?  Then, he heard the man say "M maam."  Instead of "Mani" he said, "M maam."  In
Dagbani, if someone asks "Wula m-bala" and you want to say, "It is me," you have to say, "Mani."  But the Mossi people say, "M maam."  The two men were talking, but their dialogue wasn't proper.  When one spoke Dagbani, the other could understand, and when the wounded man spoke, the Dagomba man also could understand.  The Dagomba man could see that the wounded man's clothes were different.  He asked, "Oh why?  Are you my enemy?" but
 the man was too sick to answer.  The Dagomba man decided to carry the wounded man back to his camp. All night, the Dagombas were massaging this man with herbs.  During the olden days, we used fire to cure people.  Now we use hot water, but our ancestors put leaves in fire and then massaged
 the sick person.
  By morning the man was able to talk, "We are the leading warriors!  Who are you people?"  The Dagombas also asked, "Where from you? This man was a wise older man who knew about that lady who had gotten lost in the  bush.  He mentioned her name.  The Dagombas were surprised andsaid, "This name resembles our chief's daughter's!  Why?"  And then the old man said, "Oh, as for me, that is my mother's name."  They asked him, "From which town?"  He told them, "My mother  said she had been lost in the bush and then her husband found her."  The Dagombas said, "OK.  Let us take this news to the elders who can talk to our Naa [chief]."  At that time,we didn't call our chief "Yaa Naa"; we just called him "Naa."  They called the elders together and told them what they had heard.  Then, they all went to tell the chief. It was morning.  The Naa and his warriors were preparing to go to the battlefield.  The elders said, "We have heard an important matter.  We have to stop and check some things before we continue the fight."  After the Naa heard the news, he said, "We are not going to meet them in battle. We are going to send a message." They sent a messenger to the enemy camp to say, "We have found one of your people. We have questioned him.  This is the story we heard from him.  I have been sent to see if it is true.   Is the person we found one of yours?"  The leader of the enemy warriors said, "Yes, that man is my brother."  Then, he explained his family history, "This is our mother, this is what happened . . ."  The messenger took the story back to the Dagombas. According to my teachers, it took more than one week to go inside the case. When they had finished investigating, the Naa asked his war leader for advice.  He said,"Naa, I won't stop the fight yet.  If I stop, these people will think that we fear them."  But the chief drummer spoke up, "Yes, we should stop this war.  We drummers will represent the situation. Give us a chance.  I will take my children into bush and we will prepare a
rhythm.  Everyone who understands our drumming will stop fighting."  So, the chief drummer took his children to the bush, along with the same old
man they had found.  Then, the chief drummer quickly composed a rhythm for the leading luŋa--zen deyen dehen diyan dahan dehen deyen deyan.  He asked his children, "Do you hear?" The children said, "Yes, we hear, we hear."  He asked them, "What did I say?"  The children replied, "You said, 'Naa naa wum, naa wum, naa wum, to,' 'Chief says listen.'"The chief drummer said, "It has two meanings.  What is the other one?"  They said, "Naa naa nya, naa nya, naa nya, to' 'Chief says see.'"  The drummer said, "OK.  I am going to be playing those two."  The children asked him, "What do we answer?"  He said, "You people answer me, 'Naa wum, naa wum' or answer me, 'Naa nya, naa nya.'  Those two can answer me; you can pick either one." 
 n those days, we didn't have the guŋ-gɔŋ drums like we do now; we had a smaller drum called batani.  The chief drummer asked  one batani to play kwao kwa kwao, which means "To naa wum" or "To naa nya"--"To naa wum" means "Chief says listen"--"To naa nya" means, "Chief says see."  Then, he
ordered a second batani, "You tell them, 'Chɛ zabli,' 'leave the fight.'"  He asked the children, "Do you understand the language?  Can you drum it?"  The children said, "Yes."
The drummers came back to the Dagomba camp and drummed for the Naa and his
warriors.  The war leader, the one who said he would not stop the fight, said, "When we hear this, what do you want us to do?"  The chief drummer told him, "Take your sword,turn to the person standing near you, and strike his sword.  Everybody should be turning and striking sword-to-sword or spear-to-spear.  When the other people see, they will also do the same thing.  Then, we can come together and stop the fight."  But the war leader said, "For me, I will not do it first.  If they do it first, I will also do it.  I won't do it because they will say I am still afraid."The elders decided to send a delegation to the enemy, together with the man they had saved from death.  You know, the Mossi play bundili, a calabash drum like the Frafra bima drum.  They also have luŋa and a small guŋ-gɔŋ like the one people from Lagos play.  The wounded Mossi elder told his people about the Dagomba drummer's idea.  He asked his musicians, "Can you people also drum the same way?"  They accepted, "Yes, we can do it."  So, he trained them.  They did it.
 The two sides set a date.  The Mossi side came over to the Dagombas.  When the Mossi were coming with their group, our people heard their luŋas--den den diyan dan--their calabashes--ten teten ten ti ti, ka ti kara.  Then, our people also moved forward.  When our drummers started, our Dagomba warriors were still walking.  They saw the Mossi people and, yes, they were turning their swords--striking.  Our warriors also started to strike their swords together, but our war leader wanted to make sure.  He selected some people and said, "Go to the Mossi.  Strike their swords and see if they strike or try to stab you."  They went.  The Mossi didn't cut them.  Instead, the warriors struck swords three times.  They came back. You know, by that time Naa Tohibu, the chief whose daughter had gotten lost in the bush, had died.  The new Naa was the junior brother of the missing woman and he wanted to know if she was still alive.  He went with another delegation to find out.  The Mossi elders said that their mother, the Dagomba chief's senior sister, was dead.  The woman's first child was a daughter.  Our Naa asked if they could bring her to him.
 She came. Our chief asked, "Can you tell me what you heard from your mother?"  She answered,"Yes n-yaba, grandfather."  Dagombas and Mossis call each other "n-yaba."  The lady was thinking that the Naa was her mother's father; she didn't know that he was her mother's brother, her uncle.  She said, "N-yaba, my mother told me that she was with her father when a war came.  There was fighting and they were always moving their camp. One night, she went into the bush to make her toilet.  The fight had stopped and there was no noise.  My mother could not hear anybody.  She started walking back to camp,thinking she would soon find her people.  She was still alone.  She lay down in the bush to sleep, thinking that the next morning she would hear them.  But the next day she couldn't hear them, so she started walking around in the bush until a hunter found her. 
The hunter took her to his bush hut.  After that, they lived in the bush together.  Naa asked her, "This man didn't take your mother home?  He took her to his bush hut?"  The woman said, "Yes."  Naa said, "OK." The lady was having a small, small son.  The boy left his mother's side and started
walking toward the chief.  Naa embraced him and then stood up.  Naa put his hand to his head, took off his hat, and immediately put it on the boy's head.  Then, Naa said,  "True.  Can you people give my title to this boy?  Can you people allow him to be your chief?"Up until that day those people did not have a chief; they were just simple hunters.  Our Naa said, "A ŋɔ mɔɣu naa, mɔɣu naa, mɔɣu ne naa."  Your grandfather found your grandmother, my sister, in the bush.  My sister bore your mother in the bush, so now you are M)hu Naa."  That is the meaning of "M)hu Naa [literally, bush chief]."
The Mossi people say, "Tarakai" and we say, "Takai."  "Takai" means "fight stop," "Zabli naya," "the fight is finished."  Ever since then, we Dagombas have continued doing  Takai.  Each year, when we passed that date--that month, that day--drummers and  warriors would go to the chief's palace to represent themselves as they had done before.   As time went on and things were changing, our Yaa Naa allowed the public to dance Takai.  But people have stopped using swords because, by all means, somebody might be wounded.we changed from swords to sticks, which we call "kpaa."  When people started using sticks, they began treating Takai as a dance The way you hear the rhythm of Takai now?  How it has become very sweet?--that is the work of the drummers.  Drummers have improved the Takai drumming talk. Drummers have made Takai become very nice and very danceable, too.  At first, the
Mossi art
people just faced each other and he guŋ-gɔŋ will say, "Chɛ zabli, chɛ zabli, chɛ zabli" and on the third time we will knock sticks--"Chɛ zabli, chɛ
zabli, chɛ zabli" and we turn again.  There was no dancing to it!  Much later, some joking people put more dancing movements inside and everybody started copying them
The mossi and Dagombas are brothers From the old days until now, we treat each other are like members of a grandfather's family and a grandmother's family. 
Whenever a Dagomba person dies, Mossi people from that neighborhood will come together and go to the dead person's room and say, "No!  We won't allow this person to be buried by anyone else.  We are here to help our brother."  The dead person's family must find some money, give it to them, and beg them for permission to bury him.and also during fire festival,the morning after we do the fire ritual, Mossi people can go house-to-house to collect money, even if just a pesewa.  On that day, Mossi people will get money!  This is how it is between Dagomba and Mossi people.  Even if a Mossi man teases you and you don't like, there won't be any fight.  You can get annoyed, but you can't fight with him.

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