Origin of the Marimba and Djembe drum
The origin of the marimba is not known, but it
seems that the instrument had its beginning in Southern Africa and
it started off as wooden bars laid over a hole on the ground which
were struck with sticks. In Zulu (an African tribe in South Africa)
mythology there is a tale about a goddess called Marimba who made
an instrument by hanging gourds below wooden bars. It is sometimes
referred to as the source of the name of the instrument.
During the early 16th century the marimba was
introduced to Central and South America. In 1895, a Guatemalan named
Sebastian Hurtado made a marimba with a wooden resonator pipe
instead of gourd. This formed the basis of the modern marimba.
The South African Navy Band utilises four
marimbas ranging from the soprano marimba to the bass marimba.
'The African djembe drum is used for
The African djembe drum is used for ceremonial
purposes such as a wedding, full moon or the start of a harvest
season for farmers. There is general agreement that the origin of
the African djembe is associated with a class of Mandinka/Susu
blacksmiths known as Numu.
The wide dispersion of the djembe drums
throughout West Africa may be due to Numu migrations dating from the
first millennium A.D.
The Malinke, an indigenous people who are spread
throughout West Africa, use the djembe to help spread their message
of peace. In the Malinke culture it's an expression of joy. It is
often used as a way for the African people to share their thoughts
about the world. African drummer Mamady Keita, named best djembe
drummer in Africa by the Pan-African Festival in Algiers, puts it
best: "For us personally it's a way for us to share our own thoughts
about the world. It helps us show through music that all our
problems are not needed, and that we can come together as people
because we can come together to play music."
Utilisation in the South African Navy Band
The marimbas and djembe drums were introduced
into the Navy Band during the late 1990ís. The South African
Navy Band has pioneered the introduction and utilisation of African
instruments with the djembe drum forming an integral part of the
Bandís instrumentation on ceremonial occasions. Both the marimbas
and the djembe drums are utilised on a regular basis in the Bandís
varied and exciting concert programme.
Since its inception more than 10 years ago, the
Marimba Group section of the Navy Band has grown in popularity.
The musicians that play these instruments are members of the
South African Navy Band and also play either wind or percussion
instruments in the band.
The group, ably led by Chief Petty Officer
Lindela Madikizela, has performed at many various occasions and have
enjoyed great success wherever they have performed. In October
2006 the Marimba Group become the first South African National
Defence Force musical group to perform for our peacekeeping forces
in Burundi. In February 2007 this group performed at the
Opening of Parliament in Cape Town and in July 2007 performed on
Trafalgar Square, London, during the SA Navy Bandís visit to
the UK for the 90th Commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi.