Adowa Drum Orchestra

Adowa Drum Orchestra

Kete Drum Orchestra

Kete Drum Orchestra

Drums and dance – an assumed integral part of Ashanti society, right? Well, not so many years ago, such an assumption would have been valid. Today, in 2009, in a society which is bombarded with the culture of the west and at a time when the youth throughout the country have embraced modern communication technology, that is no longer the case. In most rural communities in southern Ghana, one will be hard pressed to find young people who are well versed in traditional drumming and dances.

Several months ago, I asked my friend, the Cultural Officer, in New Edubiase for some advice on acquiring drums and setting up a cultural troupe in Amudurasi, my wife’s home village. He has been tutoring and supporting a troupe in New Edubiase for a number of years, and he was very excited at the prospect of another troupe nearby.

My friend accompanied my wife and I one day and we drove to Kumasi. At the Ashanti Cultural Centre, my friend introduced us to the Master Drum Carver who has supplied him with all of his drums in the past. After some discussion and negotiation, he agreed to make two sets of drums for us – a Kete Drum Orchestra and an Adowa Drum Orchestra. Two weeks later we collected the drums and returned to Amudurasi.

A community meeting was called to let people know that drums were coming to the community. The initial response was very positive and included several unexpected developments. Whereas in New Edubiase, the troupe consists of young students from the community, we discovered that there were as many adults as their were youngsters who were very interested in becoming involved. Some of these adults were proficient dancers and drummers who had learned from childhood. They told us that previously Amudurasi was very well known in the area for the skills of its drummers and dancers, and that the drummers were very much in demand in years gone by. These individuals assured us that they were committed to ensuring that we have a very good troupe as a result.

Other community members commented on the drums and related them to the new community day care centre which began operation in October. They spoke with great eloquence in expressing renewed enthusiasm and optimism that their village could experience a revival, a renewed vigour that could propel it forward for the economic benefit of all. This was an unexpected response and presents an opportunity for future developments in the community.

A few weeks later on the occasion of the closing of the funeral celebration for the Edubiase Okyeamehene, we brought the drums to the funeral grounds and announced that they were now in the community. Within moments and impromptu dance had begun as drummers began drumming enthusiastically, and dancers followed suit, anxious to enjoy the music and strut their best moves. What an exciting and unplanned beginning for a project that will have far reaching ramifications.

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