How to Djembe

Before You Begin

  • Although all are welcome to gather together in peace, you may only Djembe with up to eight (8) players at a time.

  • As you begin, please separate the cards into three (3) piles: GROUNDING, ENGAGEMENT, and CELEBRATION.

  • For the engagement cards, please give them a good and thorough shuffle, mixing the seven (7) categories.

  • Please remind all players to share time and space respectfully and allow up to three (3) minutes per player.

  • A word of loving caution: As you Djembe, you may express or hear expressed different or difficult emotions, thoughts and stories. Please remember to affirm and honor the gift of their experience through support and encouragement.

  • On the flip side of the same coin: kindly withhold judgment, interruption, or unnecessary talk about or among yourselves.

  • All are welcome to take breaks if needed.

As You Play

  • When it is your turn, you become the Djembefola–the “one who gives the djembe voice!”

  • Please start with the GROUNDING cards. Each player is welcome to take a card from the deck, read it aloud, and answer it.

  • Once everyone has read their GROUNDING card, each player takes a turn drawing an ENGAGEMENT card. 

  • As you draw your ENGAGEMENT card, you have the choice to answer, pass (forfeit), or pick another card. Be careful, though, once you pick another card, you cannot pick another one after that, and *must* play one of the two cards you’ve already drawn.

  • Players continue picking ENGAGEMENT cards until each player completes the entire deck, or until the players are ready to wrap up their communal experience. There are up to 77 cards, each card offering endless responses and experiences.

  • Once you’ve drawn all the ENGAGEMENT cards your circle wishes to draw, it’s time for each player to draw a card from the CELEBRATION deck.

  • Your CELEBRATION card offers you and your beloved community the chance to share an insight or appreciation from your Djembe circle.

  • After you’ve completed, but before leaving the circle, please thank those you’ve shared space with and offer time to reflect and digest.

The Djembe Cards

  • GROUNDING: These 11 cards draw the Djembe into session. These prompts will introduce you to your community, center, and unite your circle.

  • ENGAGEMENT: These 77 cards are divided into seven (7) categories with symbols for each.

    • Bese Saka – Abundance & Togetherness (Needs & Access)

    • Nkonsonkonson – Unity & Human Relations (Sexuality & Gender)

    • DWENNIMMEN – Humility & Strength (Equity & Empowerment)

    • AKOMA NTOSO – Understanding (Family & Relationships)

    • Aya – Endurance & Resourcefulness (Ability & Expression)

    • Mpatapo – Reconciliation & Peacemaking (Race & Ethnicity)

    • Nyasapo – Wisdom (Faith & Belief)

  • CELEBRATION: These 10 cards draw the Djembe session to a close. Before you bid farewell (for now), you’ll have the opportunity to share an insight or appreciation for the experience you all collectively just shared.

  • 1 Djembe ORIGIN Story Card