Interview with African Drum Teacher Makha Diop

Makha Diop was born in Senegal and has lived in Hong Kong for over 20 years. He teaches kids starting from 2 years old authentic African drumming. Makha was happy to give The Petit Pelican an interview for our Savannah Box magazine and share with you some of his childhood memories and his passion for drums!

Makha Diop African Drum Teacher

The drum I play and teach is called the Djembe. It originates from Western Africa and is mainly played in Mali, Senegal, Guinee, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast (I wonder if you could find these countries on the map?). The drum is made by special craftsmen from a single tree trunk. We cover it with goat skin and attach it with ropes and pieces of circular metal. The Djembe is played mostly during celebrations and they happen all year round! We use it in our daily life, so the drum is played a lot and represents a way of communication, gathering people, strengthening community as well as the celebrations themselves. Every drum rhythm has a special meaning, so we play a special rhythm for each particular event.

Djembe drum

What are the benefits of drumming?

The African drum is a great tool for everyone who wants to learn rhythm. It’s especially good for kids with a speech delay as they can use the drum to express themselves, learn hand coordination, practice hearing skills, and also learn how to cooperate with others! It can also help develop their musical sense, especially at a very young age.

Video from an African Drum Workshop

My happiest Senegal childhood memory?

As kids we used to enjoy a certain amount of freedom, maybe more than kids in Hong Kong where it seems that school work and homework take most of the time. We did a lot of things outdoors and were able to build big things out of small things and were truly happy! I lived on a small island and just being able to see and play with my friends everyday (since we all lived on the same island) was the great joy of my childhood! Kids are always kids and I believe under similar circumstances Hong Kong kids would be doing the same as kids living on a small island in Africa - enjoying more freedom and learning some basic skills.

My favourite dish?

I have a few favourite Senegalese dishes for sure! But the most popular one is Thiep bou dieun. It’s made of rice and fish and can be cooked in two colors - white and red, depending if you add tomatoes. It’s really nice and famous not just in Senegal but all over Africa. Now some other African countries cook it their own style and call it Djolof rice but it’s from Senegal really! We can get the basic ingredients in Hong Kong, but there is always something missing. It doesn’t matter, it’s still delicious!

Senegal dish

If you'd like to contact Makha Diop for African Drum lessons, you may get in touch via his website - or Facebook.