Also:       chigubhu      

Title: African Dances of the Witwatersrand Gold Mines--The Muchongolo Tumbling Dance; unidentified group of Ndau performers. Label: International Library of African Music, Music of Africa Series nos. 12-13. Format: CD. Catalogue#: CDMOA 12. Track: 8.

Contextual Associations

The tangi is a double-headed cylindrical drum membranophone played in the Ndau communities of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In the Chipinge District in southeastern Zimbabwe, it is primarily used to accompany muchongoyo dancing (a secular dance closely associated with Ndau identity). Muchongoyo dancing/drumming plays a key role in contemporary Ndau social and political life, in which it can engender feelings of hope, frustration, and solidarity amongst participants during community events (Perman 2010, p. 425). It is also commonly used in chokoto, another secular Ndau social dance, and for zvipunha spirits (of young girls who were the caretakers of Ndau ancestors). On one of the mammal pelt drumheads of the tangi pictured here (gallery #1) the name of the muchongoyo group to which the instrument once belonged has been shaven: MUZITE YAUYA, ZVINE POWER.” “Muzite” is the name of a school, “yauya, zvine power” means “has arrived, there is power.” The second head (detail #1) does not include any inscription.


The shell of this drum (detail #2) is made from a 16.5-inch segment of a steel 55-gallon oil drum from which the top and bottom have been removed to make a cylindrical tube. The open ends have been covered with circular mammal pelts the edges of which are directly laced to one another across the length of the shell.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

When used for the accompaniment of muchongoyo, the tangi is strapped to its performer so that the side of the shell rests against his chest, leaving both drumheads available for striking with padded stick beaters, one held in the left hand, the other in the right. The two heads can be roughly tuned to produce slightly different pitches relative to one another. The tangi is heard on the audio #1 clip in combination with the chimudumbana (a small, high-pitched drum played with sticks) and wooden clappers during a performance of muchongoyo. In general, it is held, played, and sounds like a western marching band bass drum.


Bass drum-like membranophones such as the tangi are common throughout southern Africa, possibly influenced by British military drums introduced during colonial times. Muchongoyo itself stems from the occupation of the Ndau by Gaza Nguni armies of the 19th century as they fled from what is now South Africa and Eswatini, so this might have been the period during which such drums entered the Ndau context.

Bibliographic Citations

Moyana, Tafirenyika. 1976. “Muchongoyo: A Sangani Dance,” African Arts 9/2: 40-42.

Perman, Tony. 2010. “Dancing in Opposition: Muchongoyo, Emotion, and the Politics of Performance in Southeastern Zimbabwe,” Ethnomusicology 54/3: 425-451.

________. 2011. “Awakening Spirits: The Ontology of Spirit, Self, and Society in Ndau Spirit Possession Practices in Zimbabwe” Journal of Religion in Africa 41(1): 59-92.

Turino, Thomas. 2000. Nationalists, Cosmopolitans, and Popular Music in Zimbabwe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Instrument Information


Continent: Africa

Region: East Africa

Nation: Zimbabwe and Mozambique

Formation: Ndau

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

211.212.12 membranophone--individual double-skin cylindrical drum, both skins used for playing

Design and Playing Features

Category: membranophone

Number of drums comprising instrument: single drum

Shell design: tubular - cylindrical

Number and function of membranes: two, both for sounding

Membrane design: unframed

Membrane attachment: unframed membrane laced to unframed membrane

Membrane tension control: none, tension set at time of manufacture

Sounding for membranophone: striking with two handheld beaters

Sound modifiers for membranophone: none


22.3 in. diameter of heads 16.5 in. depth of shell

Primary Materials

metal oil barrel
membrane - mammal skin
lacing - rawhide


Shepherd Dhliwayo and Panganayi Ndlovu Chipinge District, Zimbabwe

Entry Author

Tony Perman and Roger Vetter