Restoration works at the Djidji Ayôkwé, or “talking drum”, have now been finished in Paris. The artefact, saved on the Quai Branly museum, is in a position to be returned to Côte d’Ivoire underneath a restitution plan promised by way of President Emmanuel Macron.

The mythical drum, which as soon as belonged to the Ebrié other people, (prior to now referred to as the Tchamans), was once seized by way of French colonial settlers in 1916.

It have been used to warn of risks, mobilise for battle or summon other people for ceremonies or gatherings and may well be heard from some 12 kilometres away.

Originally housed within the village of Adjamé, the Djidji Ayôkwé was once used to keep in touch to the seven surrounding Tchaman villages.

“It was a means of communication … If the settlers took it, it was a way of gaining control over the tchaman group,” Clavaire Mobio Aguego, lately the holder of conventional authority in Adjamé advised RFI’s Abidjan correspondent, Pierre Pinto.

The particular object, measuring 3.31 metres lengthy and weighing 430 kilograms, has been the focal point of recovery efforts for the previous month in a workshop at the outskirts of Paris.

The drum have been eaten away in some puts by way of bugs.

The consolidation paintings was once undertaken the use of a resin “injected inside the weakest areas”, permitting the wooden to “regain a certain density and solidity”, Nathalie Richard defined to RFI’s Pierre Firtion previous this week.

In fee of the conservation-restoration centre on the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, Richard says she could be very glad with the general consequence.

Special resin

“We used a resin capable of going deep inside the wood, but which should not shine, saturate or darken the colour. As such, we can say that the treatment is a success: the solidity has been recovered at certain levels and the appearance has not been modified,” she says.

She additionally insists that the acoustic capability of the drum, one of the vital number one considerations in Côte d’Ivoire, was once by no means altered.

“It was the Djidji Ayôkwé that allowed the villagers to warn each other that the settler was arriving, because people did not agree with the forceful method of requisitioning people to go work,” Silvie Memel-Kassi , the director of the Museum of Civilisations of Côte d’Ivoire advised RFI.

“When they [the settlers] came, they couldn’t find anyone and they ended up realising that it was because of the drum beating, heard from very far away”.

Memel-Kassi visited Paris in November 2021 earlier than the recovery started and was once satisfied the see that the drum was once in affordable situation, in spite of its age and deficient conservation.

Preparation for shipping

The Djidji Ayôkwé will now be put on a base which is able to take round every week to make.

“The idea is to preserve the object as much as possible during handling,” says Nathalie Richard, explaining {that a} particular “cradle-like” body will probably be constructed to permit the drum to stay aligned.

“This large base will be fixed on a platform that will allow the object to be handled without having to transfer it to temporary platforms each time we want to move it”.

The drum will then be positioned in a specifically constructed field for its adventure house.

At the top of 2018, Côte d’Ivoire had formally asked the restitution of just about 150 works.