Thanks for your comments, unfortunately I am not going to put a sock in it, so if you don't like my posts you simply do not need to read them. If the moderators think they are inappropriate I am sure they will delete them. You seem to be offended as much by my attitude and where I can coming from as by the content of my posts. I say 'God Bless Africa' - and I'll keep on saying it - you can bless who you want, I really don't care. I was waiting for the likes of you to come out of the woodwork - welcome! You are not the first Remo/Indonesian/Meinl/Toca etc. etc. djembe seller/player/dealer to be upset with me.
To advertise and sell a djembe copy from Ghana as a 'pro djembe' is - if I give them the benefit of the doubt, ignorant and at the worst criminal. Many people went through the stage of buying a djembe from Ghana and then realizing it was not what they needed when they became serious about djembe and had to spend more money to get a decent djembe.
Buying a real djembe, not only supports the 'people of the djembe' - but buying a real, pro quality djembe, supports real craftsmen and artisans - who are being pushed out because of the manufacture of cheap, low quality drums being sold in the west as 'pro drums'. Most carvers in Africa are paid per drum, so they crank them out as fast as possible - the carvers who make my pro drums are paid by the hour - so they'll make the best drum they can and take pride in the artistry as they've done for hundreds of years.
If you like copies of djembes made in Indonesia, or Remo or PVC djembes you can debate that as much as you want - fact is they all sound like cr*p and if you don't know that, your time in Gambia did not help much.
At least don't mislead people with 'it's all good' nonsense. Is a cheap guitar from China the same quality as a Gibson Les Paul?? Do you think djembe is less of a musical instrument and that any old drum will do?? Not much respect there.
Deforestation is a problem all over the world and in African in particular and yes djembe manufacturing consumes trees. Perhaps we should stop manufacturers cranking out cheap drums and save the trees for well made drums. There are also well made djembes from Guinea made from Dunun wood, Melina or Mango that grow faster. If you really want to solve the problem of deforestation work against global warming. I was born in Africa and they were not cutting down trees for drums - but for making charcoal to heat and cook with. And properly the biggest consumers of timber are Chinese logging companies chopping down whole forests to keep up with the booming economy and growth in China.
About kids banging on pots and pans, check the video I embedded of kids in Zambia playing on buckets and on Myspace profile too. That's not the point, we in the west have the money - are driving the market and misinformed people like yourself are helping maintain the myth of Indonesian djembe. Now I'll really piss you off and you asked for it
... in my HUMBLE opinion djembe copies are an EXPLOITATION of Africa and the culture --- read it again!!! First they stole the people, then the riches and now the culture. So not only are so called Remo and Indonesian djembes cr*p but they are exploiting the culture - non of the money finds its way back to Africa. That's why I say on my website if you really want to buy a cheap djembe and are considering an Indonesian or Remo or Meinl etc., at least buy one from Ghana, though they are not good djembes -- and buy from companies that know djembe and also sell Mali, Ivory Coast, Guinea djembe etc. they will not tell you it's a 'pro djembe'.
Now you may have forgotten, but this site is called 'Djembefola' and it is doing an excellent job of telling it like it is. This is not a wishy, washy, kumbaya let's feel good about ourselves website - it is about Djembes and the people and culture behind them - this is serious stuff, it's debating someone else's culture and music and our responsibility is to be true to it - we have to be more careful than someone from that culture that we don't appropriate it and WATER IT DOWN. How many djembe masters or serious students have you seen playing a Remo, Meinl, Toca, Indonesian, Ghanaian djembe. Go to Youtube and check out who is playing those copies djembes and the quality of the sound and drumming - bad drumming, playing with the fingers like it's a Dumbek etc. etc.!!!
On this site from what I have seen, djembe is put into its cultural context - it is not just a drum that fell out of the sky, so people can bang on them and feel good. This is a not a 'drum circle' forum and I am not knocking drum circles, a 'djembe' from Ghana would work there. I have played at drum circles in San Francisco where people banged on trash cans, which is fine and is fun, but it has NOTHING to do with djembe .. I don't think you want to do that at a djembe class.
Perhaps you should read the excellent links James has on this site - look under 'Learn To Drum' -> 'Articles' and read some of them in particular 'Mande Drumming' and 'Djembe Rhythm Traditional Mandingue', the petition by Mamady and other master drummers and other articles. I have family in Ghana and very good friend of mine is an Indonesian living in Holland - they are all great people but they are not people of the djembe. Ghana has wonderful percussion - but not djembe. Fact is the best djembes come from the people of the djembe in West Africa
I've had sellers of Ghanaian drums, steal my content for their website, use it on ebay .. I had to fight them on ebay to get them kicked off and I've seen sellers of drums from Ghana claim their drums are from Ivory Coast or Senegal - let's try and serve the culture and 'promote' it , not demote it.
I know there are a lot of bad sellers on the web, but there are some who are reputable and sell fine drums. I already mentioned Nate and OneTreeDrums and there are more, that's why I suggest a section linking to the 'good sellers' so newbies are not misled. If someone sells djembes from Ghana, don't call them pro djembes - they are not, it's misleading and dishonest and disrespectful to the culture.
And lastly your comment is very unfortunate:
"there is obviously a huge lesson to learn from these people who didn't develop rapidly like europeans, asians and americans, russians, chinese. these African people have music and art and song and dance as an integral center of their culture."
Be careful my friend, and tread carefully, your comment is arrogant and borderline racist!!!! A society should be evaluated on the culture and history, not its technology - Germany was at the height of so called European culture and progress and look what it gave Europe at that time - two world wars, mass murder and genocide. I suggest you read some books on Africa - a good one is 'The Hero With An African Face' by Clyde. W. Ford and for history read about the Empires of Mali, Ghana, Great Zimbabwe, Ethiopia etc. etc. hopefully it will dispel part of your ignorance. Read Yoruban cosmology and also Sundiata Keita and The Epic Of Mali and The Lion King. You can try Basil Davidson who has a series of books on African history you can get from your local library and there are a lot more great books as well. And for explanations as to why TECHNOLOGY (not culture) developed quicker in other places read 'Guns, Germs and Steel' by Jared Diamond.
If you have the attention span check out Chicago Djembe Project http://www.chidjembe.com/
(on Youtube as well) and the writings of Dr. Lilian Friedberg - in particular 'Drumming For Dollars' - http://www.chidjembe.com/drumdollars.html
"The Caucasian crime is not its interest in African art forms; it is the refusal to see the connection between the Drums and the people who created them. Accepting and understanding this connection is one prerequisite to integrating the tradition of the Drum into our lives. It is the price our ancestors have placed on the Drum-a price only we can pay."
"... all too often, drum students expect overnight returns, and after only 4 weeks in Africa and a year or two of qualified instruction, elevate themselves to the level of "instructors" and begin offering their own seminars. Consider the time and money it takes to become a professor, a doctor, an attorney or a concert pianist. Why do we presume indigenous art forms require less? Is it because we have traditionally been taught to assume they are less sophisticated, less "scientific", less structured and systematic? I think it is. And I think it reflects the degree to which we still cling to our own notions of cultural superiority, even as we struggle to develop appreciation and respect for indigenous cultures. The bottom line is investing resources in qualified instruction from people whom we have been taught to consider culturally inferior without expecting to supplant the teachers and begin offering instruction before we have even begun to approach "mastery" of the traditions. We must see ourselves as students, not as teachers, consumers, merchants and "masters" of these traditions."
From Chicago Drum Project website article by Dr. Lilian Freidberg