Nankasa Drum

The Baganda people of Uganda have a special relationship with ngoma (a word for both the drums, and the music they produce with the drums). The ngoma is used for communication, celebration, storytelling, and is associated with royalty.

The drums are made of wood and covered with cow skin, which is pegged on both ends. They are usually played in an ensemble of seven drums. Each of these drums has a specific name. The largest drum is the bakisimba. It makes a loud bass sound. The empuunya is a bit smaller and makes a higher-pitched bass sound.

The drum in the Rumble Museum's collection is a nankasa. It is a small drum played with sticks and makes a very high-pitched sound. Like the larger drums, it is covered with cow skin on the top and bottom using an intricate lacing system. The final drum in the ensemble is the engalabi, which has a lizard-skin head attached with small wooden pegs.

Throughout Central and South Africa, ngoma ceremonies are used to help with healing during ceremonies. The rituals involve rhythmic music and dance. Ngoma often has the role of bonding the tribe, and is involved in key ceremonies such as marriage and life transitions. It is also seen as a way to communicate with spirits. The nankasa is usually played with two sticks.

Watch Natty Mark Samuels, founder of the African School, introduce our nankasa drum here.