DISCOVER CULTURES + TRADITIONS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE

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WEST AFRICAN DRUM

DJEMBE

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CÔTE D'IVOIRE |

IVORY COAST

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MALI

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MAURITANIA

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NIGER

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SENEGAL

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BURKINA FASO

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GAMBIA

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GHANA

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GUINEA

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GUINEA-BISSAU

• The goblet-shaped djembe drum is one of West Africa's best known instruments. It is traditionally carved from a single piece of African hardwood and topped with an animal skin as a drumhead.

• Some think the name of the djembe came from the Bamana people in Mali, who said "Anke dje, anke be" to call their people together. The saying translates to English "everyone gather together." "Dje" means gather and "be" means everyone, 

 

• The djembe is most likely about 400-800 years old, and was created during the Malian Empire by the Mandé people. The empire spanned the modern-day countries of Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, northern Burkina Faso, western Niger, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, the Ivory Coast and northern Ghana. It is now used all over Africa and the world.

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THE TRADITION

CARVED BY HAND

WOOD & SKIN

It is said that the djembe drum contains three spirits:

• the spirit of the tree from which it was made

• the spirit of the animal whose skin is played, and

• the spirit of the carver or the one who cut the tree and the people who assemble the drum.

See djembe drums being hand crafted in Ghana, Africa by the Africa Heartwood Project:  https://youtu.be/aLeede5z1vQ

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