After three back-to-back programs with 300 middle school kids per program, we were ready to get on the road for the long drive back home; so Aboubacar and I settled into our mostly silent car ride. I have always enjoyed traveling and working with my West African friend Aboubacar, or “Abu” as we call him. After a program I cherish quiet reflection as I go within to do an inner debrief and appreciate the comfort of not needing to fill every silent gap with conversation when we travel together, much like a couple who has been together for decades. But of course, we have also greatly enjoyed interesting conversation in our travels together over the years. Truly, I find it fascinating to hear about life in Guinea, West Africa and the striking contrast to our modern culture here in the US.
As we exited the freeway we encountered a homeless man holding up a sign stating he was hungry and needed money for food. Here in the west, we are all but numb to such a site as we experience the homeless at just about every highway exit in addition to their usual hang-outs in any community. My heart never fails however to feel compassion when I see people in need, regardless of the story that my head might create based on our societal conditioning to simply ignore those asking for help. Abu remained quiet, but I was curious how he felt about people asking for help and I wondered how his village would react to those reaching out for assistance.
I asked Abu if there were homeless in his community and how people responded. He said if anyone encountered someone in need they would automatically help in any way they could. If someone was hungry, people within the community would give them rice. If they were homeless, they would be offered a place to sleep. If they needed money, it was natural to reach into your pocket and give them whatever you had. What a beautiful example of community; and within a country that most westerners see as unevolved. But if we measured evolution by a peoples’ capacity to demonstrate simple human dignity and share resources within a community as a whole so no one suffers, then the western world would be seen as void of the kind of progress that truly matters. Quoting Albert Einstein, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
When we tap I into the concept of Ubuntu – “I Am, because You Are” we bring ourselves to a state of full-circle evolution and integrate our hearts with our intellect. Community becomes our place of center. Who we are as individuals, the uniqueness of our personal skills and talents, is reflected back to us by the interconnected unique skills and talents of another. We synchronize with each other to the pulse of cooperation while maintaining the value of our individuality. This is why Drum Café treasures the concept of Ubuntu and shares this philosophy through the power of rhythm and music making.
The human being was not designed to journey alone. We are biologically wired for community, rhythm and balance. Our team of Drum Cafe facilitators and musicians utilize community rhythm as a powerful component to unleash human potential. We know that when people step into a space that is shared by others coming together as an orchestra of rhythm, sharing a common voice, a common vision and a common heartbeat…they connect with a primal part of themselves that deeply understands their connection to the power of the whole.
There is an undeniable source that dwells within a community making music together. That source does not exist outside of the community; it is the whole of the community from which this source is created. When we contribute to a community symphony, we automatically tap into that powerful, creative, healing, balancing source. It matters not whether we drum, dance, sing, or play the flute…it is the act of experiencing a valued contribution that connects us to the source. It is the conjuring of the intrinsic rhythm that dwells within us all, into our awareness, that ignites our personal source and synchronizes that essence with the expanded source of the community. And despite the severely distorted perception of rhythm in the west, there is no training required to achieve this empowered state. It is within our DNA and available to everyone willing to go within and activate. And because the drum is an instrument that anyone can play, it makes the perfect tool to ignite possibility, capacity and achievability.
Abu will soon be heading back to Africa for a few months to see his family, so our middle school gig was the last one we’ll do together for a while. As always, I enjoyed watching him connect with the kids and share his amazing talent with them. Of course the kids love him. They are totally in awe of his drum-master skills and it is so evident how inspired they are by his passion for his art. On one of our long road trips I asked Abu when he learned how to play the Djembe, his reply was “I was born playing.” I think he meant that quite literally.
Have you experienced this power of community via drumming, and felt or witnessed a shift in the collective energy present? Please do share with us by commenting below. If you like this post, help us reach more people by sharing, commenting and liking.
In Joy and Rhythm,