The fascination of the talking drums

  • W.A. Chislett


Most people who read stories about Africa and less advanced students of African history (among which I number myself) will be surprised to learn that the sending of messages over long distances by relays of drums is confined to quite a narrow belt of country. It is true that in many parts of Africa, as in many other parts of the world, information is sent by pre-arranged signals and that drums are among the instruments used for this purpose. But the “talking drums” are confined to a narrow strip of Equatorial Africa along the banks of the River Congo and its chief tributaries. Here there are no pre-arranged codes. The drums are made to produce sounds suggested by words in the local language.