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Ferdinand J. de Hen





Konin Aka

[goule, ule, kule, kwi]

Ceremonial slit drum of the Guere, Niabua, and Wobe peoples of the Ivory Coast. In the music of the secret kwi (‘spirit’) society the player holds a mirliton in his mouth and conducts a dialogue with the gule, which is later used for purely rhythmic accompaniment. The Guere also play the ...



Laurence Libin

Unique drum of the Nyanja/Chewa people of the Kasungu district, Malawi. It is used in rain-making rites. The cylindrical wooden body has geometric designs on the side reminiscent of rock paintings of the BaTwa Pygmies, and it is thought that the drum might originally have belonged to that people. The body contains rattling elements, said to be human teeth, inserted through a hole in the side. The two heads are made from varan lizard skin. The mbiriwiri formerly resided in a hut at a rain shrine at Msinja, resting on two poles and covered with dark cloth. Every year it was oiled. It was removed only to be beaten at the start of the rainmaking ceremony or for repairs. Only a special functionary (tsang’oma, ‘drum beater’) was allowed to handle it. Another functionary provided new skin for the heads when needed. Reportedly, when invaders sacked the shrine in the 1860s the ...



Peter Hoesing

[eŋoma dh’enswezi]

Term referring to drums associated with nswezi rituals among the Soga people of southeastern Uganda. These rituals feature a type of spirit possession called kusamira or kubandwa in which participants use music to facilitate and maintain connections with ancestral spirits. So central is this activity to possession ritual that the Lusoga verb for performing such a function is okukubira enswezi, literally ‘to beat the nswezi.’ Nswezi practitioners (baswezi) use these drums, along with gourd idiophones (ennengo) and buzzing aerophones (bugwala), to accompany ritual songs.

Nswezi drums, like the ubiquitous Uganda drum, have hide bottom heads, thinner skin batter heads, and twisted hide tension cords that bind the heads tightly over open-ended cylindrical-conical shells. Tuning is effected by adjusting the cords. A nswezi drum differs from a typical Uganda drum in that the lower, conoidal portion of the shell is concave rather than convex. As a result, these drums sound different from drums of neighbouring areas (e.g., Buganda)....