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Making of an African drum – Mpambire drum makers

Mpambire is a village known for its drum makers. It is located a bit outside of Kampala, on the way leading southwards towards Masaka and on to Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable national parks. It makes for a nice stop along the way for anyone interested in buying drums or seeing how they are made. On the side of the road you can see the drum maker’s shops selling handmade drums of different shapes and sizes. In the Ugandan culture the drum play a big role both for rituals and celebrations.

Making of an African drum
Making of an African drum

During a visit a few weeks ago we were shown the process of making a drum by the drum maker Abel. The starting point is a log that looks pretty rough with the bark still on. In this first stage they chisel out the interior so that the log becomes hollow, when making a big drum this takes around one week.

Making of an African drum
Making of an African drum

At the same time the hide to cover the drum is prepared by being washed and dried in the sun. For making a drum the leather has to dry in the sun for two days (assuming it is sunny days otherwise it takes longer). When the log has been made hollow they use an axe to give it the right shape and then make a hole in the bottom for better resonance. The final step is then to assemble the now drum looking log and the hide to a finished drum ready to be played.

Making of an African drum
Making of an African drum
Come for a tailor-made Uganda safari with us.

Take a look under “safaris” in the menu at the top of this page for itinerary options. A stop at Mpambire Drum Makers can be planned into most of the itineraries, let us know your interests and we make a tailor-made option for you. 

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