Oct 15


British Broadcasting Corporation

Akan drumContributed by British Museum

In Ghana today drums open news broadcasts with the message ‘Ghana munteyi’, (sic: muntie ) which means ‘Ghana, listen’This drum is one of the oldest surviving African-American objects. The drum was collected in the early 1700s in the Colony of Virginia, now part of the United States of America. The drum, however, was made in the Akan region in Ghana, West Africa, where it would have been played during religious ceremonies and on social occasions. The drum probably travelled across the Atlantic on a slave ship, where it may have been used to exercise the enslaved Africans in an attempt to keep them healthy.

What is the musical legacy of drumming in plantations?

It is estimated that over 12 million Africans were transported to the Americas between 1501 and the abolition of the slave trade in the 1800s. They were brought to provide labour for mines and for plantations of sugar and rice, and later tobacco and cotton. Drumming and other African musical traditions continued in the colonies and gave rise to many different kinds of music including shouts, hollars, work songs, fife and drum and spirituals.
Taken from Africa
Something like 12 million people probably were taken from Africa to various parts of the new world. A lot of them went to Brazil in the southern hemisphere and many went to the Caribbean and North Ame …Read more
Anthony Appiah, Princeton University

Music, slavery and Sloane
How and why was this drum taken from West Africa to Virginia, and how did it become part of Sir Hans Sloane’s collection? Asking these questions raises crucial issues about the role of material cultur …Read more
James Delbourgo, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University, USA

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1. At 08:30 on 5 October 2010, ayjay3 wrote:
The link to download this appears to be broken.
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2. At 18:21 on 5 October 2010, Miles Hodgkiss wrote:
Oh so neat and rounded an explanation it almost fits the shape of the drum itself. Why one almost wants to hum along and sing a little. Tra-la, tra-la…. the slaves are the victims of their own undoing. Tra-la tra-la. They should carry the blame and the shame. Tra-la, Tra-la.. Perhaps they should reward us for keeping them alive so long. Oh my! I feel light headed and merry. Your solution sucks Neil.

Of course every privileged elitist beneficiary or inheritor of a fortune made on the back of slavery wants, with ardent fervour, to be absolved of the shared responsibility for being the ?richy-rich lucky rich Rich ?. They?ve got it all and they?re keeping it. So why wouldn?t they?
If the demand for compensation was ever removed they would need tremble no more. The fear of bloody revenge would be gone. They might truly enjoy being rich. Why, that would simply be marvellous for them wouldn?t it? Why, they would be free to create slavery in ever new and more fashionable ways without so much as a care… why, just think of the possibilities. Tra-la, tra,la..

Not so with truth. Think again please. Compensate or be fearful. That?s at least a choice which is more than all the millions of poor wretches and their oppressed families ever received from the beneficiary?s ghastly forebears.
My advice to those remaining rich beneficiaries whose fortunes stem from the slave trade is ?Hold on to your ill-gotten fortunes, if you can, but be aware, you will always be afraid.
Remember, with every waking breath you will be growing weaker.. weaker… weaker, and when finally death is grinning at you. Tra-la, Tra-la..Death will rob you of any satisfaction as surely as the thought of a heavy manacle drags your imagination screaming to the bottom of the sea. And there in your mind?s eye you shall witness your heart being measured in the balance. Tra-la, Tra-la. ….Don?t worry…
The coldest realisation of life is yet awaiting you. Tra-la, tra-la. Even as your family look upon you with avarice in their eyes. Tra-la, Tra-la. You will say if only inwardly, ?I am cold and without love, without money and with no hope of life everlasting.? Tra-la, tra-la.

And that will be that. Another awful wasted life bullying and pushing people around as if you own them?
Well, at least that?s my gut reaction.

I think the drum should be permanently positioned on The Speaker of the House?s desk in The Commons and beaten often. What do you think?


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