The Zambian Drum - The Medium of Communication

The Zambian Drum is unique! For example, if there’s a funeral, a ceremony, a celebration, a beer party, or people being called to a meeting at the palace, how does the message get to the villagers who are scattered all over in different villages? Through the drum!


To a westerner, when a drum is being beaten, that’s all there is to it, a drum being beaten. The way the drum is beaten conveys a lot of messages to a trained ear. Somebody will tell you there’s beer somewhere, just by hearing a drum beaten. Or that there’s a tragedy that has befallen the village and you are all wanted at the palace, the drum beat will convey that message.

Zambian Drum

The significance and role of the drum is clearly visible when it comes to traditional ceremonies and Zambian Traditional dancing.

Zambian Drum - Different Types

The elders of the Kunda people will beat the Kamangu drum, the message sending drum, to announce that the Malaila traditional ceremony will begin.

The Lunda of Luapula province  use a variety of drums during their Mutomboko ceremony. There are drums like Mondo drum also known as the talking drum, used to announce deaths, curfews, or beer drinking parties. There are other drums like the Sensele, Itumba, Ichibitiko and the Imangu. The last one is used in Kalela dance.

Beating of the Maoma royal drum in the Lealui plains in Zambezi tells people that the Kuomboka is about to start. When the Maoma drum comes to life, people know the ceremony is about to begin. This old drum has been giving the Lozis the same messages over the years; when it’s time to shift to Limulunga, when the water has risen and when the Kuomboka has stated…

However, one important point to note is that drums are made differently and they produce different sounds! 

Specific drums are used for specific occasions. You can’t substitute a drum used at the Kuomboka ceremony with the Mutomboko ceremonyand vice versa. 

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