The Significance of the Drum
The drum is Africa's most traditional musical instrument. With a drum a group of dancers can fully express their souls. The drum beat can summon tears to our eyes and drive our souls into the caverns of sorrow, or it can raise us up to the peak of elation. Warriors are stirred into fiery battle anger by the beat of the drum and many a loin skin-wetting coward has been known to fight like a maddened lion after hearing the sound of this tribal drums.
Drums were used also as a means of healing. They can be beaten in such a way that they have soothing effects and thus create a restful feeling. The beat of drums can cure what no medicine can cure: it can heal the ills of the mind – it can heal the very soul.
African drums have patterns carved into them and these dictate the role of that specific drum. Some drums are used at weddings, and other special ceremonies. Some of these patterns tell proverbs, or prayers or even snatches of history from that specific tribe. Some patterns portray curses on all foreigners touching that drum.
A sanngoma's battle drum is usually engraved with the River of Time, or eternity. This is the oldest symbol of Africa and it
indicates the repetitive continuity of time and the immorality of the soul.
The big drums of any tribe were its most valuable property.
A tribe whose drum was stolen, lost faith in itself and became completely demoralised and subservient.