The natives are restless is not only the title of our album but also the slogan for our drumming activities – or pretty much everything we do. Coined by a 1933 film based on a novel of H.G. Wells, this expression was used in colonial times or even later during the apartheid era, describing the moment before the natives rise up, usually announced by some deep jungle drumming. Imagine a colonial ruler sitting on his stoep, sipping his G’nT, and hearing the far off drumming from the locasie. Slightly uneasy, he would comment to his visitors: “The natives are restless tonight...”
It is with this sense of foreboding of a rebellion, of rising up in union, of expressing our culture and African roots that we like to see the spirit of Ongoma. Yes, we are restless. And it’s contagious.
But, on a more peaceful note, we also carry the spirit of the origin of the word djembe. According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes from the saying “Anke djé, anke bé” which translates to “everyone gather together in peace”. Drumming, for us, is also a very spiritual activity.