|Suara( Adeyemi Lawrence)|
Anyone who watched one of Nigeria's most captivating soaps on television, Super Story, 2002, would conclude that the lead character Suara ( Born Adeyemi Lawrence) would talk so much about acting before any other area of the arts. But that was not the case when I had a discussion with him. Suara rather shared with me his first love in the arts--- drumming! He talked about the usefulness of drums as part of African culture in message dissemination.
What does it take to become a good drummer?
You simply have to show interest and put in a lot of dedication for you to become a true drummer. When you use your drum for spiritual ecstasy the way it should be used, knowing what to say with your drum, then when you pray, your prayers would be heard.
What kinds of drums do you play?
Generally, I play a variety of drums, but I like the dundun, Iyaalu, Omole, angoto, the small drum that is positioned under the armpit before the act of drumming takes place. This drum actually came from the Hausas which they call Kalangu.What special knowledge would you share about the drums?
In my knowledge of the drums , there are 360 tone on every round drum depending on how the drummer knows how to handle it. It is important to mention also that African drumming is quite different from African rhythm. I also like to say at this point that it is falsehood when people claim they are playing Bata drum for Sango, because Sango does not dance since he is too busy for that.
What major thing is there about African drums?
I must tell you that it is not enough to use the drum to create spectacle for the white man to applaud, but it will be worth the effort for Africans to first drum to their own satisfaction. I wish that this could be the case in everything that Nigerians do. The African drum is used to pass across messages to the people, but then, no African rhythm by drum would be complete if it is not making a statement. Also important among the Yorubas, is the fact that the drum aids the citation of the Oriki (Family compliment).
For 40 years now I have been beating the talking drum. I started out in the ancient city of Ibadan when I was following the masquerades known as Alapa njapa and Kajola. But today, I see the young people running away from following them because of the juju (charms) they use. A lot of other things driving them too could include the laws guiding the followership; it was abominable for one who was following the masquerade to drink water because when beating the drum for a masquerade, it was easy to get tired and not be able to go through.
Talking on the uniqueness of drums to African culture
The instrument would tell you where it belongs ,just as we know that the Ekwe belongs to the Igbo, and the 'Talking drum' belongs to the Yorubas, while Kalangu belongs to the Hausas, so we know what we are talking about. You must understand the language of the drum to function within that sphere.
When you get into the ecstasy of drumming, you will not even know that you are the one drumming by the time you listen to the play-back. But you see, music and rhythm are more than that because you will be able to say a lot of things on the drum which you would not ordinarily say.
When you are beating the drum some spirits would be telling you what to do . For instance, at the height of a sekere and dun-dun play, the head drummer would be using his drum to talk to the followers like ‘ati eni ikini, ati eni keji, ati eni keta, oo le se nkankan’, eni ti o ni opa, igbawo lopa’.
It is more note-worthy when you are following a masquerade because you will find the drummers causing all the fights with their different messages, so drumming is more than just noise-making. I remember doing what I knew how to do best during one occasion of drumming , to bring a large crowd to our side to the surprise of even the Church that I was drumming for.