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.
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Women playing bata have been prohibited from playing these sacred drums. It is said that this was not always the case. With the introduction of Los Reglas de Ocha, or The rules of priesthood, came the introduction of the Ceremony of Ana, or introducing the drums and drummers to the spirit of the the Dead or the spirit of Music, depending upon who you talk to . the purpose was to make the act of playing to Orisha a sacred act. Several Prohibitions were also introduced at this time; the prohibition of using non-consecrated drums in ceremony, the prohibition of non-priests playing in ceremony and most notably, the prohibition of women playing the Bata drums.