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I am not nor have I ever professed to be an expert in any of this.  I am not a Historian nor am I a Musicologist.  I am a hobbyist only.  

Looking around the web I have observed that there is no place that deals with this subject matter and because of that I have tried to accumulate what sources I can and share them here,  I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information but I will do my best (as I have stated, I am not an expert).

Instrument Interview: The Creole Bania, the Oldest Existing Banjo

“Instrument Interview” posts are a chance to sit down with the instruments of traditional, country, bluegrass, and roots music – from different types of instruments to specific ones related to artists, luthiers, and songwriters – and learn more about them. Ten questions are posed, and the instruments answer! Today we talk with the Creole bania.

Photo Essay - The Banjo and African American Musical Culture

The banjo and African Americans have traveled from Senegambian roots to Caribbean birth, to North America, and then to the world. Don Vappie (b. 30 January 1956), the New Orleans-jazz master of the tenor and guitar-banjo, and also a renowned bassist, guitarist, and mandolinist, epitomizes that journey. Vappie has revived the music of King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton and created his own compositions that range from Creole folk music to modern jazz and funk.

The African musical influence in the world of bluegrass music

African music has always influenced other musical genres.  When slaves came to the Appalachian Mountain region from Africa, they brought over a lot of their traditions.  Most of these traditions are shown frequently in the music world, especially in bluegrass music.  It is already known that the 4-string banjo originated from Africa, along with oral tradition.  The first banjos were made with a gourd sound chamber.  Five elements that compose a banjo include the sound chamber, head (vibrating membrane), neck, bridge, and the strings.  The most important part is the bridge as it transmits sound from the strings to the head.  However, early banjos from Africa did not have bridges.