Mpambire The Cradle of Drum Making in Uganda
The Best Place to buy Drums in Uganda is on the Masaka Highway in Mbambire
The Drum Makers of Mpambire carry on the ancient tradition of Drum Making and is the Best Place to buy Drums in Uganda directly at the source- most going on Safari in Western Uganda will pass by it and have a chance to buy one or two. At the same time, you will get to see how the drums, including the Royal Drums, are made in the 21st Century.
Buy a drum at the source – the Royal Drum Makers of Mpambire.
The Best Place to buy Drums in Uganda If you are heading for Western Uganda to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Queen Elizabeth Park you will pass Mpambire and if you are not looking up you could easily miss it – it looks like many other towns or villages along the Kampala – Masaka Road. Mpambire is a small town of less that 1000 residents but it is the cradle of drum making in Uganda. It is home of the Buganda Royal Drum Makers, home to families who for generations have created the distinct drums of Central Uganda. Many of the drum makers that you might meet here learned from their fathers the art of drum making who in turn learned from their fathers.
Tourists from all parts of the world come here to buy a drum – since coming to Africa, since coming to Uganda they have heard the rhythm of the African Drum as found in Uganda and found it enchanting, almost irresistible taking with them a part of Uganda’s rich cultural history of drum making into the various corners of this world. Drum Making here started hundreds of years ago– now in 2012 drums are still made as back then but with a few added modern tools here and there but the process is the same.
Drum makers from all parts of Uganda have come here to Mpambire to learn the skills, to apprentice and go back to their hometowns and keep the art of drum making alive in Uganda and certainly is with the only limitation being the availability of trees that the drum makers used to get from the nearby Mpanga Forest, now there are laws about the felling of trees and even the felling of trees in private forest some even owned by drum makers. 12 species of trees are used in the drum making process – trees that do not crack and are resistant to insects and weevils. In order to get quality trees in the various forests – bribes are paid to forest rangers and logging is done at night – a large tree can give enough material to create up to 15 large drums – at the same time research is being done about what other trees can be used to create the drums as of old with the same sound and resonance.
Besides the wood used with the drums there are the hides – they use cow hides, the hides from bulls are simply too thick and do not produce a good sound. The process of preparing the skins takes a few days during the dry season using wetting and drying process plus stretching the skins, then the skins are woven around the drum while stretching the top – all to give the drums that ancient, authentic African Sound.
In the 1990’s the drum makers of Mpambire were introduced to the West African Djembe and Bougarabou Drums and goat skin is used with them and they also use a lot less wood. Tourists like the smaller djembe drums and many of them have made a journey to various parts of the world. The Ugandan drum makers changed the original names and renamed them as Buzi or Kabalusi drums.
I personally am a purist and prefer the authentic Ugandan drums like the Engalabi drum made from a hollowed out tree – dried and covered with monitor lizard skin and nailed with wooden pegs into place- I have large drums in my home that I use as and end table and the other is a large round coffee table – I covered it with a glass top to protect the skin, where did I buy the drums – from a drum maker at Mpambire – there are over 50 of them located on both sides of the road and it is the best place in Uganda to buy drums.
You can buy drums of all sizes and whatever you can get into your luggage or the overhead bin on the plane…be sure to visit the drum makers at Mpambire- and get some drumming lessons before leaving Uganda – the best place to buy authentic African Drums made in the Pearl of Africa – Uganda…
Best Place to buy Drums in Uganda – most drums that you have come across in Uganda will have a connection to Mpambire.