In my entire life, I have never heard only one-hand clapping. That would be a mystery. Everybody knows that it is two hands that do the clapping. As the thought of one hand clapping may not make any sense, in Africa, full of idiomatic expressions and proverbs that too could have a meaning.
If one can fold his fingers and clinch his fist without going all the way to the palm or clip the folded fingers with the thumb, one can produce a beautiful sound when hitting against the face of the drum. I do not think words can describe the sound of one hand. One cannot play a piano and produce a profound melody using one hand, but it is simply possible with the African drum.
In many quarters of the African continent the sound of a clapping hand on the drum is called “ingoma” (a song) or “tambour” in French. What is music to the eyes of Africans made from a clapping of one hand may mean something else in other parts of the known world. Half clinched fist is associated with melody whereas a fully clinched fist is associated with power. In South Africa the majority of people who support the liberation movements would shout Amandla! (All power!) The response would be “Ngawethu!” (It is ours!). This basically, means that power belongs to the people.
The philosophy of one hand clapping can mean hitting somebody in the face with the purpose of either waking them up or punishing them for what they have done wrong or making someone listen. They are many inferences that can be drawn. However, when clapping a drum it can be very symbolic in Africa. This could mean dancing, joy, happiness, wedding ceremonies, sadness, sending message, performance of certain rituals, invitation to meetings, waking people up or enlightening them about something. There are many reasons why drums were played in Africa.
Source image: www.ngomaafrica.com