The Zande Akpaningba as a Source of Identity, Unity, and Joy

  • Wendy Atkins Dallas International University/GEN member


Made by local craftsmen players among the Azande in central Africa who bring the form and sound of the instrument to life, the akpaningba of the Azande serves as a source of cultural identity, unity, and joy. Seen in the context of the Zande circle dance genre the kpaningba, the akpaningba forms the center of the performances, leading the singers and dancers in exuberant expressions of happiness, longing for a better life, and even demonstrations of discontent. This article explains the creation of an akpaningba, its role as the center of its host genre, and how this cultural symbol exemplifies the worldview of the Zande people. The author details how a local church and a traditional dance group based in a small Zande village made efforts to safeguard the instrument. Concluding with thoughts concerning the future of the akpaningba, the author explains several threats to the sustainability of the instrument, sharing ideas on what would be lost from Zande culture if this instrument and the kpaningba dance genre lose their important role.

Working papers