African Drumming

The djembe - Etymology

Variations on the spelling of jembe include djembe, djimbe, jimbe and yembe. Abdoul Doumbia, a Djembefola from Ségou in Mali tells us that 'jembe' comes from two Bambara words, 'Dièn' which means unity and 'Bin' that signifies harmony. Traditional testimony states that the word comes from two words in the ancient Malinke language. 'Djem' was the tree originally used to make the drum shell (a very dense wood found in Mali) and 'be' (pronounced 'beh') was a goat, used for skinning the drum.

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