The Talking Drums of West Africa

Over at Global Wire Associates, we released the first article in our yearlong series about the history of communication. We highlighted some of the earliest methods of messaging, ranging from cave paintings to hydraulic semaphore systems.

We briefly touched on all of these methods, but the one that most interested me was the West African tradition of “talking drums.” Drumming for communication continues to be prevalent throughout the region, especially in Nigeria. The drums would communicate specific messages across many miles to different villages. Drumming is also used to celebrate community rituals and religious traditions, as well as tell stories and even gossip. It was also used during wartime to rally the troops.

During slavery throughout the Americas, African slaves would pass their time drumming for entertainment. However, drums were banned because the slaves were communicating to each other over long distances, especially during slave revolts, using a code their owners couldn’t understand.

Go figure!

I have been lucky through my work to travel to Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Senegal to learn about the different functions of drumming for communication.  Even within the same country, drumming has many different “languages” and traditions.

I found these great videos that explain the history of drumming among African peoples.

Telecom World Global Previews

telecom_world_2013Greetings from Bangkok, where the staff of Global Wire Associates is attending Telecom World 2013, the world’s largest gathering of ICT professionals. In the coming weeks, we will give reports on everything we saw and the policy discussions heard that we think would be of interest to you guys.

It is no surprise the conference is being held in Asia this year, where many countries in the region are becoming emerging leaders in tech innovation.

Soichiro Seki, Director-General for International Affairs in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in Japan spoke to ITU about the important role Asian nations will play at the conference.

Many African nations are also making a lot of noise in the ICT sector like in Nigeria. Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, spoke to ITU about upcoming broadband projects in her country.

Finally, Latin America has seen a growing tech start up community in recent years. Diego Molano Vega, Minister of ICT in Colombia, spoke to ITU about how ICTs are helping to fight poverty.