United Kingdom

Uganda Network



In the United Kingdom we are used to listening passively to recorded music, but in rural Africa, live music, dancing and singing play a important part in every day life. They accompany the daily tasks such as grinding the maize and working in the fields as well as being used in ceremonies, rites and festivals. Rhythmic patterns accompany the pounding of millet into flour and it becomes music and song. For Cub Scouts, music plays an important role at camp, particularly in welcoming visitors.

Many African instruments are made by the people themselves using whatever is available from the local natural materials. This means that the instruments will differ from region to region.




Activity - Make music

Rhythm - Ugandan children love playing rhythm games and here are two for you to try:

  1. Clap a rhythm
    Groups take it in turn to clap the rhythm of a well-known song. If nobody recognises the tune that group gains a point. If the tune is recognised, everyone joins in singing and clapping for one verse.
  2. Rhythmic feet
    Everyone stands in a circle with one member in the centre. That member turns and faces someone and claps and stamps out a short rhythm. If that person can imitate the rhythm successfully the person in the centre moves on until he can beat somebody. If that person fails he has to take the place of the one in the centre.

Form your own Ugandan band by making instruments from whatever comes to hand. You could add extra to your band by making and wearing an African Mask

  1. The drum represents Uganda's culture. The Bantu tribe devised sets of drums which copy the sound of their language. 'Talking drums' carry sound further than the human voice and this is how the bush telegraph was developed.

    Make Your Own Drum:

    You will need a catering size tin with the top and bottom removed or the thick cardboard tubes that are used in carpet shops, heavy duty polythene sheet or inner tubing, reinforcement rings, cord and scissors. In Uganda zebra skin in often used to cover the drums.

    Make a water drum using a metal bucket a quarter filled with water. Stretch some thick plastic over the top and tie firmly in place.

  2. A rattle This is another type of instrument that is very popular. Use squashed bottle tops on a wire frame and wrap the handle with insulating tape.
  3. Shakers. Collect together dried peas, rice, macaroni and so on and place varying amounts into yoghurt cartoons before covering with colourful paper.

    Other instruments that are popular in Africa are flutes, whistles, lyres and harps. Animal horns are used to make sounds. Try using a short length of plastic piping to produce a sound. Encourage members to decorate their finished instrument with brightly coloured paint, shells, beads and coloured ribbons. Your local library will have books on how to make musical instruments and how to make music.

  4. Make up a poem It might be about your town or village, a recent special sectional event or camp. Now recite it together making your own sound effects and rhythmic clapping and feet tapping.
  5. Find your group. Think up a number of well-known songs or rhymes, then write them out on small file cards with one line on each card. Make sure you have enough for everyone. Members have to find the other three people with their song or rhyme. Everyone then sings their song or says their rhyme.
  6. Musical terms. On large card write a musical character or note.

    Members walk round in a circle to some music. When the music stops, the leader calls out one of the characters or notes. Everyone has to try and run to the correct place. Last one loses a life or is out.


Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 3 January 2004


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