Drumming a joyful beat in Nigeria

A traditional gangan drum from Nigeria, which produces sounds similar to a Japanese hand drum.

ABUJA - A variety of drums in many sizes draw the eye in souvenir shops in Nigeria's capital. The most popular is a double drum called a gangan that is used by the Yoruba tribe and others in the west of the country.

Slung over one's shoulder and held underarm, the drum is beaten with a wooden stick.

According to local residents, the drum can be used to imitate a person's voice, as a player can control the pitch by varying how strongly they press the strings stretched over the drum's side. Also called the "talking drum" in English, the gangan is said to have been used as a means of communication in the past.

An inexpensive model costs about 7,000 nairas (S$54).

The drum is played to accompany dancing at festivals. Beating the drum rhythmically, souvenir shop owner Ogbonna said that dancing to its sound will make people joyful when they are sad and more joyful when they are happy.

Uesugi is a correspondent in Johannesburg.