Home Institution

Fordham University

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

Senegal: Arts and Culture


In this study, I examine how a culture’s values are reflected in a specific pedagogical process through participant observation; in essence, I endeavor to examine first-hand the anthropology of pedagogy. The jembe, in truth, is comparable to a window into both the teaching model of a Senegalese master drummer and the cultural values reflected in his pedagogical method. In learning to play the parts of seven jembe rhythms with fluidity and recording their cultural significances, I discover the elements of criticism and sacrifice deeply inlaid in the tradition of this instrument. Relative to the communal setting of the griot family in which my fieldwork takes place, I learn the philosophy of preservation held by the African musician, manifested in how his instrument is taught, played, and fabricated. Through analysis of the themes of criticism and sacrifice which surface during my research, I discover the cultural priorities of togetherness and preservation reflected in the pedagogical system of the jembe tradition’s native West African context.


Anthropology | Education | Music Practice


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