Mysterious History Of African Drum

The Mysterious History Of The African Drum

by Saskia Carelse June 20, 2018

Find out the mysterious origin, history and evolution of the African drum

There is much of our planetary history that is unwritten and unknown, including the history of mankind and how we have evolved over the years. Often times we take things for granted, not taking a second to wonder how it was invented, how much work and dedication was put into it, or WHO was the spark behind the idea. While many things remain a mystery, we are fortunate for the stories that have been written down or told through generations.

Have you ever wondered who thought up the concept of drumming? After all, there had to be that one person who first had the idea and eventually turned it into a reality. Before then, drums didn't exist! Isn't that a crazy thought? For the most part, African history isn't recorded, although we do have some evidence of their historical beliefs and day-to-day happenings through their rock art or the tools they used to use. Otherwise, most of our knowledge about the African history has been passed down through tradition or story-telling.

African Rock Art History

To this day, drumming is an important part of African culture. The most commonly used drum is known as a 'djembe', the word apparently originating from the Bambara (people of Mali) saying “Anke djé, anke bé” which translates to “everyone gather together in peace" ( One of their legends tell the story of a djinn (spirit or genie) who taught a blacksmith how to carve and craft the drum in the 12th Century.

The African drum, which comes in many forms other than the djembe, is primarily the instrument using during various ceremonies, accompanied by dancing, singing and clapping. Various ceremonies include marriages, baptisms, funerals, circumcisions and trances. 

African Drumming Ceremonies

Historians have narrowed down where the African drum originated from to West Africa, specifically in Mali, Guinea, Senegal and other neighbouring West African countries. The drum spread throughout the rest of the world over the following years and now makes up a huge part of our music culture and has evolved into many different shapes since its original form.

The Mysterious History and Evolution of the African drum

Let's take a second to be thankful for the mysterious history and evolution of the African drum. If it were not for that djinn and blacksmith, or whichever legend you choose to believe, our entire music world would not be what it is today!

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Saskia Carelse
Saskia Carelse


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