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Hooked on Soweto


The Marimbas and Djembe drums were introduced into the Navy Band during the late 1990ís.

The group, ably led by Chief Petty Officer Lindela Madikizela, has performed at many various occasions

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 ceremonial purposes'

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.


The tuba is the largest
and lowest pitched
brass instrument.
It is one of the
most recent
additions to
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revision date: Tuesday, March 09, 2010

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