Drums are Africa's heartbeat and rhythm. Drums were used to communicate and warn far off villages of impending danger or imminent joyful celebrations. Drums vary in shape, tonality and decorations. "Talking drums" were used for music and to literally 'talk' to the community. The Djembe drum is a deep resounding rope tuned skin covered goblet drum.
The Akan drum in this photo is located in The British Museum and is thought to have been made in the early-18th century by the Akan people in present-day Ghana, West Africa. The drum was taken to Virginia, America, on a slave ship, but not by an enslaved African, as slaves were not allowed to carry possessions with them. The drum may have been given to a ship’s captain as a gift or, since we know that the sons of Asante chiefs sometimes accompanied the voyages as part of their education, perhaps it was taken to America by one of them. Recent tests have shown that this drum is carved from the wood of the tree cordia africana which grows in West Africa. The pegs and cords that hold the skin of the drum tight also come from trees and plants that grow in the region. Drums are purchased directly from artisans in Ghana at fair trade prices.
Listen to a Podcast of Akan drumming and a conversation in the Akan language of Twi on BBC’s History of the World in a 100 Objects.