The Kgatla Bojale Drums: Lost or Simply Discarded

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Sandy Grant


Sometime in 1971 I was using a list drawn from Hugh Tracey’s book, Ngoma, An Introduction to Music
for Southern Africans, to ask Amos Pilane about the traditional musical instruments used by the Bakgatla.
I reached ‘drum’ (moropa) and pre-empted him by saying, ‘of course, you do not have them’ – because at
that time not a genuine drum was to be seen or heard in Mochudi. To my surprise he said, ‘of course we
have them’. I then asked if we could see them, indeed could we go and see them now? To both questions
Amos agreed, and we got into my truck and drove to the kgotla. We went to the abandoned lelapa (yard)
behind the leobo (shelter). Amos went straight to the overhang of the larger of the two rondavels and pulled
aside some junk, I remember an old galvanised bath, and a long-discarded sewing machine, and there were
the two drums lying on their sides. Both were in poor but not disastrous condition, the surface of both of
them being pitted – presumably by termites.

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