History of the djembe

The djembe drum has a great cultural heritage in Africa. Although similar in cultural use and significance to many countries and tribes on the African continent, it has minute but significant differences.


The djembe is the drum of the Mandinka people, and its origins dates back to the great Mali Empire of the 12th century. The djembe is named from the djem tree, which is largely found in Mali was used originally used in the making of djembe shells.


The djembe spelling with the "dj" comes from the fact that French has no hard "j" sound like that found in English. The "dj" is used to indicate the hard "j" pronunciation. The fact that the French spelling has been retained as traditional is largely due to the generally open policies in the French African colonies toward native culture and traditions, whereby the French were instrumental in studying and describing African drumming to the world .


The djembe is said to contain three spirits: the spirit of the tree, the spirit of the animal of which the drum head is made, and the spirit of the instrument maker. The djembe is also known as the magical drum, mushroom shaped drum, and the Devil Drum. It is legend that the djimbe and/or the tree from which it is created was a gift from a Djinn or malevolent demigod, male counterpart to the more familiar Genie 


Of all the African drums, the djembe drum has become extremely sought after in the Western world and is regarded as the most popular. This djembe has inspired master drum makers now found all over the world.


Dancing is the most popular form of entertainment and various rhythms and beats are played on the djembe. Similar type celebrations and cultural rhythms are applicable to Senegal as well as other regions of West Africa.


Today the djembe drum is West Africa's most popular drum, and is a favorite among amateur and professional drummers outside of Africa. The djembe is often played with ksink ksink, a set of 3 flat shakers made of tin, which represent the shields worn by drummers who played during a battle to motivate and send messages to the warriors.