Drummed up to take his craft to Europe

A passion for djembe drums will see Richard Pipe spending a month in Europe performing and teaching people how to play the West African instrument.

The East London drum maker will also be making a special djembe drum delivery on his trip to Europe in August this year.

Speaking to the Daily Dispatch over the weekend, Pipe said this was his second trip to Europe since he started making drums in 2003.

“The first time I was there was in 2011 and I spent three months in Germany, France and Holland.

“I will be doing some shows while there and I will also teach people how to play the djembe,” he said, adding that his first trip had been unforgettable.

Pipe, who is originally from Port Elizabeth but has been based in East London since 2008, started drumming in 2003 and has been featured in the local entertainment scene since then.

He said the process of making a djembe drum had become easier for him.

“Before it used to take me an entire month but now it takes me a week to finish one drum. I was using a chisel and a hammer when I first started but now I use a chain saw, which makes the entire process easier,” he said.

Using the Australian blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon), prolific in the Eastern Cape, for the special djembe he is taking to France, Pipe said it was the best quality for drums and would last for years.

Pipe said he was planning to open the first djembe cafe in East London when he returned from Europe in September.

“While there, I will be raising funds that will help me in buying more wood to make drums. Currently I am living from hand to mouth and I don’t have drums to teach people.

“I will be going to Ghana to purchase djembe wood because it is cheaper there. It should take me a few months to have a solid number of drums available for me to use and teach people,” he said.

Pipe said it was disheartening that locals were not as interested in drumming as tourists were.

“This is an African instrument and you would expect our people to be more interested in it but that’s not the case,” he said, adding that the djembe cafe would attract both locals and tourists.

“It has always been my dream to have a djembe cafe and have people coming in to play and jam.”

Pipe’s work can be viewed at the Sugar Shack Backpackers Accommodation on the Esplanade. — poliswap@dispatch.co.za