The Role of the Drum in African Rituals

In today’s Western society, the drum is nearly always lost in translation as entertainment value or to add a flare to a song.  In African rituals, the drum plays a much larger role, and has more of significant meaning behind it. Drumming has become considered the backbone of African music and traditions.

One of the African drums featured in Out of Africa Art Shop.

One of the African drums featured in Out of Africa Art Shop.

The Djembe drum, the most influential of drums of Africa is also very basic.  Dating back to 500 A.D., this sacred drum was to be used in ceremonies such as for ancestrial worships, dances, and warrior rituals.  The djembe rhythm is usually drummed in the evening for most gatherings, especially during nights with full moons.

Other reasons why tribes in Africa use the drums, is that it was used as a form of communication from tribe to tribe.  Think of it as a telephone or a telegraph much before the two were invented.  Across West Africa, the drums became banned, because slaves used the drums to warn distant tribes, and their enslavers could not understand the code. The sounds produced by the drum rhythms are signals based on speech patterns.

Although it must be known, each region in Africa has different uses for their drum roles.  Not all African tribes or villages used the drums in the same exact way or in the same rituals. The drum still plays an important part in each of them, nonetheless.



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