African Music: Revisit Côte d’Ivoire

My husband is a music educator and despite all the instruments he can play he is and will always be a percussionist first. With each African country we learned about it became very clear that we needed to spend a week on African music so that is what we did. We will visit 3 different countries each highlighting a different instrument and musical style from that region.

Today we are in West Africa in Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivory Coast and our instrument is the djembe. Djembe is pronounced ‘Gem-bay’ and it comes from West Africa and there are other modern countries that are more prominently located within the former Malian Empire but we haven’t learned about those countries yet and Côte d’Ivoire was the closest option still in the right area… if that makes sense 🙂

According to The djembe drum is most likely about 400-800 years old, and was created during the Malian Empire by the Mandé people. It spanned the modern-day countries of Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, northern Burkina Faso, western Niger, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, the Ivory Coast and northern Ghana.

My husband has a beautiful djembe that he pulled out and showed the kids- they had a blast playing the drum and looking at the dragon carved on the side. My husband talked them through different basic sounds and how to make them as well as some simple rhythms. Martin loves music but it was Emily who really gravitated to the djembe.

For more information by an expert is a fantastic video that was put out by the Kennedy Center all about the Djembe:

I love the sound of the djembe, so here are some more examples of djembe music.

For more Côte d’Ivoire fun check out our elephant art project and science experiment, and you can’t forget the delicious chocolate cake we made!

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