lokele slit drum congo

Lokele slit drum / tambour à fente Congo / Schlitztrommel Kongo

This type of drum is called boungu or bongungu by the Lokele people.

"The simplest kind of talking drum is the type used by the Lokele and surrounding tribes in the Stanleyville area of Belgian Congo. It is made from a solid log of reddish wood, hollowed out through a long narrow slit cut in the length of the log... Wherever this type of drum occurs in Central Africa it is nearly always the same species of wood which is used to make it; namely Pterocarpus Soyauxii, the tree from which many Central African tribes obtain a reddish powder by scraping the wood with oil (they then use this powder to adorn their bodies at dances and other social functions). A log is ready for use when it has lain on the forest floor for a sufficiently long time to allow the rotten, yellowish sap-wood to be removed from the hard, red heart-wood. The drum maker first chisels out a narrow, longitudinal slit in the length of the cylindrical log. This slit is deepened until it penetrates about half-way into the log. The interior of tbe drum is then hollowed _out on both sides of the primary slit. The work is done by an adze, fali, sometimes assisted by a curved axe blade, fondo. The hollowing on the two sides of the primary slit is differential, one side becoming thinner-walled and hollower than the other. The hollower side when struck near the slit gives a lower note than the other side. These two notes are distinguished as limiki Iya otolome (voice of the male) and limiki lya otomali (voice of the female) for the high and low notes respectively. In all drum-signalling communities every male member of the tribe has a drum name. This is given to him by his father, some-times after a special ceremony such as the initiation ceremony, or sometimes, as with Lokele boys, as soon as the lad is old enough to understand the drum (that is, when he is five or six years old). The slit-drum is also used to beat out the dance rhythm, although the principal part in the dance orchestra is taken by the skin-topped drum, ngoma, and sometimes the wedge-shaped slit-drum, longombe. When the slit-drum helps to beat out the dance rhythm it does not 'talk' as for drum messages."
excerpt from: Carrington, J.F. : Talking drums from Africa. 1949

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