‘We understand that this drum was played during the 1906 Bambatha rebellion against British rule and unfair taxation in what was then Natal. Between 3 000 and 4 000 Zulus were killed during the revolt some of whom died fighting on the side of the Natal government. More than 7 000 were imprisoned, and 4 000 flogged. King Dinizulu was arrested and sentenced to four years imprisonment for treason. The belt that the drummer would have been used to wear it is now broken, but the drum would have been used as accompaniment to ingoma dancing, which was/is performed with drums, whistles and often full regimental attire. The drum looks so heavy, as it is made of a section of a hollow log, but it is actually very light, allowing for movement. It has dried out a lot, but it must have been very thin even then. Today, people use those 40-gallon petrol cans for drums like these. We don’t yet know how Kirby came by this drum. I am constantly trying to fathom the backstories and biographies behind each of these instruments. And now that the collection is so documented and taken care of, this is the kind of research that can be embarked on.
– Michael Nixon