African drums have special, deeper symbolic and historic meaning when compared with the western music. Traditionally African drums were the heartbeat and soul of an African community. African drums have been inseparable with the African traditional lifestyle for centuries with drums used in celebrating of any occasion in their respective communities. African drums is believed to be one of the oldest musical instruments made and often regarded as a spiritual tool to the point of calling up ancestral spirits.
The important roles that African drums played cannot be over emphasis as special protection was given to these drums even during battles as some were built special houses or spiritual areas as African drums were considered a way of communication and making music. Drums have accompanied all forms of ceremonies in the African societies from births, war, victories, deaths and other rituals.
Today the Djembe drum is one of the most influential and widely used in terms of the different African drums which can date back to 500 A.D. First it served as the secret drum in the African societies for healing rite of passage, ancestral worship, rituals and other social dances. The rhythm of the Djembe usually take place during the evening. The single out a drum called the talking drum which was used to symbolize a language and send important messages from far and wide communities as it was the means of communication during that time before the invention of the telephone or mobile phone. This is why Africa in rich in musical traditions notable among them are The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Ivory coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea.
African drums are symbolic in Africa to the fact that an African drummer is a stereotype. As drums have played an important role is shaping the African societies to the extent of non-Africans too. One of the most popular is the Djembe because of the spirits found in this kind of drum. That’s the spirit of the tree it was carved from, the spirit of the animal skin used and the spirit of the drummer a combination of three spirits. The sounds are produce by striking the drum head with hands, sticks, mallet, rubber and sometimes the bones of dead human beings. Sometimes beads or metal rings are placed inside or outside to give a new sound. There are different types of African drums namely, sabaar, bukarabuu, Djembe, talking drum and many other kind of drums as every drum have a history attached to it because of the rich culture found in Africa, it has make it even more symbolic.
African drums were traditionally used for entertainment especially after a successful harvest. Sometime a bonfire is used as people gather around for a whole night as they dance and express joy. African drums were also used to accompany wrestling matches, warriors and dance competitions. African drums have played an important role in in traditional African communities for communication purposes like emergency meetings, announcing war, the beginning and finish of harvest seasons and the death of important people in their respective societies like kings and chiefs. One of the most used drum for communication is the West African talking drum.
The “entenga” drum usually played in riyal courts of the “kabaka” the traditional ruler of Buganda in Uganda, East Africa. Drums have also been used to accompany traditional African religious activities like prayers, droughts, and removing evil spirits in the communities. African drums hold and bond communal socio-political events like weddings, burials, marriages, naming ceremonies, sadness and joy.
During the past fifty years there has been a rise in the use of drums in the African continent to the extent of average people creating drums without spending much money, it’s often driven by passion. African drum rhythms have found their way into a whole host of popular African music which today have empower music and performance in Africa and a lesson to learn from.
The importance of African drums cannot be discuss in a single conversation but taking the time to live it, learn it, have passion for this art will make you understand the importance of the African drums in a spiritual way.
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