Origin of the kalimba


The kalimba, family of lamellophones, is a musical instrument from Africa. Its appearance is very old, it seems to date from 1000 BC. This would involve models with bamboo reeds.

The most common names are: sanza, likembé, thumb piano. The cradle of the kalimba is mainly the central and southern Africa but it is also seen in the south of the continent. It is also found in South America and the Caribbean ,where the slaves imported it (see marimbula of Cuba).

The kalimba , called likembé in this case ,was the basis to support the Zairian rumba in the 50s. See Antoine Moundanda, Papa Kourand and more recently the brothers Makouaya. *In Zimbabwe, the traditional M'bira is an instrument of mystic trance which is used to contact the dead ancestors (see Shona Music *).

This is also the instrument of night watchmen and storytellers and used for walking from village to village.

It is said in Bantu mythology that God created the minerals, plants, and animals, playing the thumb piano and all living beings lived together in perfect harmony. Then one day, His instrument being detuned unfortunately, when He played, sprang a false note which gave birth to man.
The man then multiplied and perpetuated the disharmony that was his origin. Perhaps, it seems, we have to bring some harmony to this troubled world and the kalimba can help us! ... Source: * Saïdou Abatcha, storyteller and humorist from Cameroon.

Our thanks to the editor of the blog africa musica for the pictures.

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