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You Are the Drum

Updated: Oct 27, 2022


The shape of the drum is circular, no beginning, no end. It's connected. The center of the drum is the sweet spot. It's the carries the rhythm and touches the spirit. We stay strong within the circle.

As a child I was always intrigued by the sound of the drum. At a parade or listening to a marching band the bass drum resonating caused my heart to flutter with excitement. As I grew older, I came to realize that the sound was of a supernatural nature. It pulled at my very essence which created in me a desire to seek more from it. The DRUM is so intrinsic or interwoven into our DNA just as air is to our breathing. It speaks, it creates, it heals, it brings together souls and sets at liberty captive beings.

The Afrikan hand drum is a very integral and necessary component of Afrikan Spirituality, the heart and pulse of Afrikan life, religion, and societal wholeness. The drum is utilized in Naming Ceremonies, Sacred Rituals, Weddings, Coronations of crowning a king, queen, chiefs, oba’s or other sovereign, births, deaths celebrations, dance performances and still used in communication throughout the Continent.

“No Drums"

In most cases Afrikans were not allowed to carry drums onto the slave ships to the distant land. Some drums did accompany the enslaved people on their arduous journey. In the new world the enslaved Afrikans kept their heritage alive through drumming. Drums represented the freedom lost and their struggles to regain it.

The Slave Act of 1740 prohibited enslaved Afrikans from playing drums, instrumentation or performing Afrikan dances. Drums were banned on plantations for fear that they would be used for communicating in insurrections.

On the Afrikan west coast the “Djembe” drum is the most popular of the many that are played throughout the continent. The name of a few of the many, many hand and stick drums are:

MALI: Bara, Tama, Krin / WEST COAST & GUINEA COAST: Djembe, Dundun, Dunno, Gome, Sabar, Bougarabou, Sakara, Gbedu, Gudugudu, Chamba, Udu / CENTRAL AFRIKA: Kili, Mondo, Bata / GHANA: Kpanlongo, Gungon, Atumpan, Fontomfro, Bamileke / EAST & SOUTH AFRIKA: Ngoma

International & Local African Drummers:

Babatunde Olatunji / Baba Orimolade Ogunjimi / Baba John “Silky” Robinson / Baba JC Carter / Baba Eddie “Bongo” Brown / Baba Elmo “Pa” Brown / Dr. Jerome “JJ” Johnson / Baba Walter Walker / Conguero Felix “Paco” Valderrama / Brother Dmitri “Ikenna” Clawson / Brother Kam Kelly / Master Drummer Mor Thiam / Conguero Palo DaCosta / Brother Will “Delidji” Bowser / Conguero Mongo Santamaria / and on and on and on!!!!!

About the Author:

Larry D. Gibson (Kamau) is a percussionist, Afrikan storyteller, cultural presenter, and minister with over 40 plus years of experience. He has drummed with Uhuru African Dance Troupe formerly based out of Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia and toured the east coast performing with Essence Cultural Movement. As a solo artist, he performed cultural presentations in churches, public schools, festivals, youth camps, Kwanzaa Celebrations, special events, prisons (throughout Virginia), adult care centers in the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Richmond, and Fredericksburg Virginia, as well as cities and villages in Ghana (West Afrika) and Kenya (East Afrika).

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