According to Randall Alifano, many believe that the djembe drum contains three distinct spirits – the tree, the animal and the maker. The tree’s spirit is considered to be actualized in the carved body of the djembe drum, explains Alifano. The animal spirit is embodied in the drumhead. The maker’s spirit is that of the drum’s craftsman.
The djembe is credited as a healing instrument, says Alifano. Some people even believe that it is a magical instrument. Randall Alifano explains that many people feel that the djembe drum can move humans outside the material plane and into the spiritual realm. The Mandingo tribe of West Africa created the djembe drum during a time when their empire was splayed across most of the continent. The Mandingo tribe operated in a caste system, and the drums were created by the blacksmith caste. The blacksmith caste was known as the Numu and members of the Numu also crafted the ceremonial masks that were used in sacred rituals. The djembe drum, even now, is carved with the same honor as the masks were many years ago, notes Randall Alifano.