African drummers provide rhythm to ENMU activities

By William Thompson

The drummers of the Yoruba Cultural Troupe of Nigeria brought the “heartbeat” of Africa to Eastern New Mexico University Monday with a performance at the business school and a session at the Office of African American Affairs’ annual banquet.

Among the many drums the three drummers brought to Portales were a “djembe” a “bata” and a “dudu”, or “talking drum.”

Drummer Tunde Ayangoke explained why it’s called a talking drum.

“Because it talks,” he said with a big smile. “With this drum I can talk to people in English or Spanish (through music).”

Hailing from Osogbo, Nigeria, Ayangoke and his drumming partners, Gasali Adeyemo and Akeem Ayanniya moved to Santa Fe about 10 years ago on a mission to spread Nigerian music and culture to the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Since then they have traveled all over the world but they keep their home base in Santa Fe because they said they love the city, it’s people and the artistic climate. Ayanniya said he teaches African music at the College of Santa Fe

“It’s a good experience because we get to go to different places and we get to show the richness of African art, music and culture.”

The three drummers each come from families with about nine generations of drummers, Ayanniya said. Ayangoke said Americans can learn to play African drums pretty well.
“It just depends on how long you practice,” he said.

Ayanniya said Americans have good rhythm and he’s not afraid that Americans will improvise to the point of making music with African drums no one in Africa has ever heard before.

“At least it (the American version of African drumming) is close enough to African music. It’s okay,” he said. “People know more about African drumming now.”

Adeyemo said he is aware of American popular music but he still prefers the folk traditions of West Africa. He, too, was not worried about Americans or anybody else taking the African drums and making bad music because the real folk tradition is still alive and he is helping to keep it that way.
”People who have never been to Africa are learning our culture,” he said. “It’s fun for me because I love to share my culture.”

The troupe has a selection of CD’s for sale. The troupe’s Web site is: http://www.agalu.com