In Africa, every large tree is believed to have a spirit. Some trees even house many spirits. Whether a tree is itself a spirit or if it is inhabited by an external spirit, it can be a complex question. The people of the villages say, “The tree has a spirit,” or, “in the tree there is a spirit.”
The spirit has a voice which the careful listener can hear and even understand if s/he knows the language of the spirits. This voice must be carefully preserved by the drum makers. The boat maker also wants to keep the spirit of the tree in the wood, so that it will protect the person navigating the boat from drowning in the treacherous rivers, after the tree has become a boat. The appearance changes though the spirit remains.
The trees have a collective spirit together in the forest, powerful enough to be revered as a god.