Welcome! The jembe, also known as the ‘healing drum’, was traditionally cut by members of the revered blacksmith caste who manufactured the various tools, instruments and ceremonial masks needed for everyday existence in ancient Africa. According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the jembe comes directly from the saying “Anke djé, anke bé” which literally translates as “everyone gather together” and defines the drum’s purpose of summoning the people. I chose the name because we are also coming together to support each other and to present our art to the world.
“The English j sound is represented in West African French writing as dj, di or sometimes dy . The English long u sound is written as ou in French. Non-African-language speakers put a European or American accent on some of the French spellings that can further corrupt the African pronunciation…The French spelling djembe has been accepted by a public unaware of the colonial legacy implied in such a simple matter as spelling. It is not a French instrument, but an African one. Africans and non-Africans alike are developing systems for writing Bamana and Maninka using phonetic spellings rather than the ornate French that harkens back to the colonial era. The simplification of French spellings such as djembe, Mandiani, and Doundounba to jembe, Manjani, and Dundunba, addresses this problem while promoting African pronunciations”, A Guide to the Jembe by Eric Charry
Jembe contains the annual list of accomplishments of the Black Artists of DC (BADC). It is a yearly compilation designed to recognize the successes of our members, furnish member contact information and act as a guide to possible venues. The future is often cloudy and much has been lost in our past. It is important to document our work and that the documentation is readily available for future research. Towards that end, I have initiated these volumes and they have been and will be sent to selected repositories. No one document can contain all of our accomplishments but my aim is to give a clear picture of the direction and focus of our members. Our world is bigger than the street on which we live. Our goal is to create and be recognized!
Daniel T. Brooking, BADC Archivist