Women Djembe Drummers
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The year was 1993. I arrived in a small Central Michigan Town after driving two days in the rain. I had caught a cold and was feeling quite sick. After a long wait in line, I made it through the check-in process at the Michigan’s Women’s Music Festival. This was my first Mich Fest experience. A kindly soul hauled my gear and helped me set up my tent. Fever and sniffles aside, I feel into a deep and seemingly dreamless sleep. My mission to go to Michigan for the festival was clear. There were black women drumming there and I wanted to meet them.
The exchange of culture between West Africa and the United States and Europe is mutual. One of the greatest impact of western culture upon West Africa is the shift towards women playing traditional Drums of Power such as the djembe. The following clip shows a group of young women performing with their teacher on the djembe, a feat that would have resulted in severe repercussion for the women and the teacher as recent as 15 years ago. No doubt, the fact that women are the greatest seekers of African drum teachers in the United States and Europe is a prominent factor. There is significant income to made from women students. Significant income has also been made by students, many of whom are women, traveling to Africa to participate in drumming intensives. Many benefit from these intensives including those who provide housing, cook meals, escort and teach.
Odu means womb and Odu refers to any opening between Heaven and Earth or the visible and the invisible realms of existence. Odu Osa Meji
This is the essence of the matter: The creative power of women rests in the womb; her ability to open the door for the souls of the ancestors to move from the non-physical into physical existence. In this manner women have the Power to “uphold the world.” Death is mitigated by the guarantee of physical rebirth. The physical cycle of life becomes as fluid; eternal.