The Importance of Drums in African Tradition

Drums in African Traditions

African drums hold a special place in the history of Africa. In Western Culture the idea of drumming is nearly always associated with entertainment or just to add to the musical quality of a song. In Africa, drums hold a deeper symbolic and historical meaning.

Drums are almost always an accompaniment for any manner of ceremony – births, deaths, marriages – together with a ritual dance. The vicious sound of many drums pounding together is also a necessary installment to stir up emotions in a battle or war to inspire excitement and passion.

The Djembe drum is possibly the most influential and basic of all the African drums, originally. It dates back to 500 A.D. The Djembe was originally created as a sacred drum to be used in healing ceremonies, rites of passage, ancestral worship, warrior rituals, as well as social dances. The drum rhythm of the djembe is performed in the evening for most celebrations, especially during full moon, spring, summer and winter harvesting time, weddings, baptisms, honoring of mothers, immediately after Ramadaan (the month of fast for all Muslims) or countless other celebrations.

In much of Africa, certain drums symbolize and protect royalty and are often housed in sacred dwellings. In fact you could say the drum was actually the first form of telephone…
Tribes, with use of the drum would communicate with other tribes often miles away. Drums were often used to signal meetings, dangers, etc….

The talking drums of Africa imitate the pitch patterns of language and transmit messages over many miles.

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