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The Importance of Oral Traditions in African History Essay examples

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One of the most crucial aspects of the development of philosophy of African history has been a realization of the importance of the spoken or oral traditions in the framing and interpretation of African history. The oral tradition is a living, and dynamic organism within the African community, and the original element of oral traditional is djembe. The Djembe is a traditional African drum and is the symbolic instrument of the West African community. The Djembe is held on a high pedestal in the social communal aspect of the society’s daily routine, and is seen in many gatherings. The value and importance of the djembe as embodiment of African tradition and its translation in West Africa and the United states via the salve trade demonstrate its role and importance vehicle it plays in the African roots.
The djembe has become one of the most popular African drums. The making of the djembe is very unique. The village djembe player will offer ten kola nuts to the blacksmith for the making of djembe in return. The blacksmith regarded the making of such a drum an honor (Billmeier 2007). The blacksmith would venture into the forest to find the ideal tree to make a djembe. Once he has found the perfect tree, the blacksmith would then ask the spirit that inhabits the tree to accept the tree to be cut while engaging into a ceremonial performance at the base of the tree (Fanta Keita Tauber 2000). After a successful attempt, he then would carve the tree from the center of the wood, and created two holes (to the tope and to the bottom). This would serve as a way for the voice of the tree to be heard through the djembe. The djembe thus achieves an extraordinary sound range, from a high, to a low, resonating sound. The Djembe has carvings on the ...


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...ncing to drums, which must have been done in secret” (Epstein 2006). Djembe was thus created with materials that were available or enslaved Africans used their bodies like a drum, clapping and stomping with feet and sticks (Wilson 1992).

The djembe is very important to me, not because it is an essential instrument for the preservation of oral tradition, which holds a crucial role in African society, but it was also tremendously used and visible in all African ceremonies that I’ve attended to send greetings upon arrival and keep the audience entertain. However, the traditions of the djembe and its aesthetic principles are starting to change across the border. Those influences involve African instructors from different ethnic groups to teach a drumming class to people coming from different backgrounds, and the modifying of the djembe in regards to the client’s need.



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