He knew nothing of the drums, of course. And no sooner did John Carrington come to understand them than they began to fade from the African scene. He saw Lokele youth practicing the drums less and less, schoolboys who did not even learn their own drum names. He regretted it. He had made the talking drums a part of his own life. In 1954 a visitor from the United States found him running a mission school in the Congolese outpost of Yalemba. Carrington still walked daily in the jungle, and when it was time for lunch his wife would summon him with a fat tattoo. She drummed: “White man spirit in forest come come to house of shingles high up above of white man spirit in forest. Woman with yams awaits. Come come.”
Before long, there were people for whom the path of communication technology had leapt directly from the talking drum to the mobile phone, skipping over the intermediate stages.