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KUMINA!!, is a Jamaican expression of drumming, dance and songs. An honoring of the ancestors and a festive and buoyant way of sending on the dearly departed onto their new home. Kumina is played regularly at wakes (set up or nine nights), and this is still done in Africa today, which only goes to show that mama Africa is always with her children still teaching. The main instruments used in Kumina are the playing khas or caste, the kbandu, and the cattah tick (scatter stick). The Playing Khas is the smaller drum, but it is the story-teller, it weaves all sorts of complicated rhythms, and depending on how skilled the drummer is, will captivate the attendees so much that the atmosphere will seem like something out of this world, charged by the sound of the drums, people will be moving in a frenzied state, doing things that they would not be able to do other wise in their daily lives. The kbandu, which is the larger drum, is low pitched in its accent and gives a steady beat, very hypnotic, and sensual almost seductive. The scatter stick player kneels or sits behind the kbandu drummer and with sticks in each hand steadily knocks from right to left in synchronicity, creating a captivating sound. Both drums are made from Goat skins, and the drums has to be fed (sacrificed on and given blood and rum to entice the spirits to come) and consecrated before they can play kumina.

Under a spiritually prepared shed (the ground is concecrated) the two drummers face each other, with cattah tick man seated behind the kbandu drummer, someone playing a greater with a knife will also be there and also a shakas player (shake shake), all these players along with the songs creates a vibrant and magnetic sound that can call people to come from miles. Whenever Kumina is Played in any area all dances are locked off, they cannot compete. The drummers and dancers are usually barefooted. In the eastern part of Jamaica, Saint Thomas, Kumina which is said to have come through the middle passage with the slaves who came from Zaire or what is known as The Congo’s today, is played very often and there are people there who has, even until today retained the original Kikongo language. The opening Songs to Kumina are most often sung in this language and it is something to be heard.

Spirit possession is always present at Kuminas, the hypnotic rhythm along with the knowledge of the drummer who is in command of the playing khas to invoke and dispel the spirits, ignites a atmospheric spiritual energy that rivals the sounds of nature in all its glory. Lightning and thunder lighting up the skies, while the sea rushes up to shore in one big whoosh!..the wind lifts up her skirts and dances with the people who interacts through songs and dance with the ancestors. Jamaican white rum is spewd in the air to welcome… Tata Benjamin, Count C, Mama Lay, Melda Minott, Queenie, Engie Scobie, Uncle Papa, Bongo Roy (mi know him), Congo Tony, Bongo Carl, Bongo John, Bongo Brown, Bongo White, Sheppie, Massa Smitty, Bongo Earl Bongo Walters, Bongo Whittingham, Bongo Wallace….and many more..these are some of the names of spirits who are regulars on the Kumina scene, and as you can see the Bongos are popular among them.

Often times the Kumina will become so intense that the possessed will “Tek Grung”, fall to the ground and possibly stay there for days or months, while they are being taught spiritual things by the spirits that chose them. People attends to them and care for them until the spirits decides to leave, this almost happened to me but I to plead with them to release me, It could never happen to me again. Kumina is very much a part of our Jamaican culture, and has been for a very long time, it is misunderstood and the practitioners do not discuss it with non practitioners, but it is something that we should be proud of.


  1. Met thank you. I love my culture so much and Kumina is a part of it. Did you know it is practiced through out the Caribbean under different variation of the name Kumina often the common tie is the Shango (baptist) religion. But regardless of it is always beautiful, spiritual, captivating and of course moving, quite literally.

    1. Youre welcome, they are saying that this happens usually in early october throughout st thomas and portland but they started beating the drums early and were not doing it properly so that why so many people got possessed . I am thinking right after the rebellion, the slaves who died they held some form of ritual for them and its not being done so every year this happens

  2. Thank u for the info I have learned something new about my land of birth.

    What did u mean that u had to “plead with them to release me. And It will never happen to me again”?

    Good Morning Obara and Met

  3. what I mean is this happened to mw when I was visiting Jamaica and attended a Kumina in Saint Thomas, it was 1 am in the morning and the Kumina was in full swing, almost everyone was possessed, I was distracted by a young gentleman who was asking me to explain to him what was happening, as I was explaining to him one of the drummers who had been playing the playing caste jumped up off his seat he was in spirit, (another took his place) and he ran straight to me and began to whirl me around, as he let me go, I felt very strong hands hold me around my waist and began pulling me to the ground, some men saw what was happening to me, and the drummer who had transferred the spirit to me shouted “hole har!!”, (of course no one saw who was pulling me,), but they, the men held on to me and finally whatever or whoever it was who tried to fall me let go, .It will never happen to me again because I have since grown MUCH stronger in spirit and NO ONE CAN EVER TRANSFER SPIRIT UNTO ME AGAIN AS MY ORI, AND MY EGBE’S KEEP CLOSE WATCH AND TO WHO I AM WITHIN THE REALM OF SPIRIT IT WOULD BE AN ABOMINATION..I know you may not understand this last part of my explanation but I cannot detail it too much to a non initiate!!

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