Talking Drum: The Original Praise Singer


By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke

With so much energy, the drummer (s) dexterously and skilfully beat the talking drum which was tightly locked in his underarm. He expertly squeezes the cords to produce different tones.

As the drummer (s) dropped the sonorous tunes, men and women in resplendent attires dance in excitement as they splash the cash on the drummer(s). The cash is not only to appreciate the drummer’s drumming skills but also to thank them for using the talking drum to sing their praises.

There is no denying that Nigerians love being praised, which is equal to their knack for titles, especially if you are a VIP.

In Lagos, event centres especially the ones organized by Yorubas, the drummers strategically position themselves at the entrance and immediately they cite a VIP, they start their praise singing.  The drummers don’t even need to sing sometimes because the talking drum does everything. And if the VIP is magnanimous enough, he would show off his dancing skills and dole out money.

What is a talking drum?

The talking drum is largely popular among the Yorubas of South West Nigeria. It can imitate spoken words and language. This is why it is called the talking drum.

Although it is popular for its praise singing virtues, it can also be used to curse, make announcements and warn people of dangers. All these functions may not exist in cities but in the hinterland, the talking drum thrives.

Why is the talking drum still popular?

Granted that modern musical instruments are well known and used today, it hasn’t significantly affected the talking drum. At parties, they are always on ground. The popularity of the drum is hinged on the fact that it can talk unlike other musical instruments which can’t.

However, Jumia Travel must add that the future of the talking drum is bleak because very few young Nigerians are interested in it. The elders who have the knowledge are already advanced in age. If they pass away, they will be taking an integral feature of the Yoruba tradition.

Even though some artiste like Ara has embraced the talking drum in their music, there is still so much to be done to ensure that the talking drum doesn’t go extinct.

Is the talking drum truly the original praise singer?

The mystery of the talking drum can only be fathomed by persons familiar with the drum’s spoken words. The drum is arguably the only one that can talk when compared to other musical instruments. So, there is no doubt that it is the original praise singer but more needs to be done to preserve it.

Adeniyi Ogunfowoke is a PR Associate at Jumia Travel.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via

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