The djembê is a membranophone drum from Africa, associated with the Mali Empire (which historically extended from Guinea to Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal), representing the mandinga culture, which was a caste of blacksmiths in the country. It may have come from the pestle, whose percussion during food preparation is still one of the first sounds heard in the morning in villages throughout West Africa.
The body of this instrument is carved out of wood, and it has rawhide skin. It is a very versatile drum with great sound projection; it can play solos in a large percussion group, and can produce a variety of sounds. The Malinke people say that a skilled player is one who "can create a djembê conversation"; traditionally, this role was restricted to men. Its rhythms are used for dancing, singing, clapping or working, as a way for musicians, dancers, singers and spectators to interact. There is a strong connection between the musician and his or her instrument. In ancient times, a musician used to keep his or her instrument for years and years, without anyone else being allowed to touch it.