This article explores the instrumentality of traditional African drums in influencing human behavior, and debunks view-points held by some critics that these drums are mere instruments for entertainment, voodoo, or rituals. It argues that as cultural artifacts, the drums are a primal symbol (a speech surrogate form qualified as drum language) used for rhetorical purposes to influence social behavior, to generate awareness, and to prompt responses for the realization of personhood and the formation of group identity. This ascription of rhetorical functionality to the African drum-dance culture provides interesting insights into the nature of rhetorical performance in the non-Western world.

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