Discuss traditional rhythms, singing etc
User avatar
By Dugafola
#6943
bubudi wrote: so in several years we may well see a good few african women teaching djembe and dunun in the west.
mabiba baegne has been teaching guinea and mali dunun for well over a decade now. she is Master dancer originally from the Congo. She's been to guinea numerous times with Famodou and Mamady. She's the one who brought Mamady to the US for the very first time.

she's one of the only dance teachers i know of abroad who can teach the original dunun dances from upper guinea. not the ballet shit that everyone teaches to konden.
By Davidjembe
#6947
Hi Bubudi and Dugafola... Sorry I missed the post about Anna from Sokan... I thought no one had mentioned her and she does deserve mentioning :D

Duga... Noticed you are in Santa Cruz, and being a djembefola you obviously know Dramane as he used to live there.

:rofl: He is a fun guy and a good drummer.

Take Care everyone talk soon!!!
By VagabonTribe
#9278
Greetings, hopefully this will be well received. Don't judge me too harshly.

I always find this interesting that certain people find the need to justify the existence of women by trying to find examples where they are doing what the men are doing.

Why can we not just praise the men, where is the honoring of men for their creations and traditions? We talk about the djembe, african music, dance, and cutlure, but when do we use the phrase "MEN have worked really hard to preserve the traditions of Africa"? I hear often how the women have done this and done that, how we are constantly creating some organization for women to be helped with this, or protected from that. And what about the men who are abused, shunned, ridiculed in this world (too short, too fat, big nose, not enough money, etc). It is almost as if we are saying that women are victims and men are perpetrators - by action if not by words. I've spent 1/4 of my life in West Africa and I can say nothing could be further from the truth. If you see Africa, or the world for that matter in that light - it is because you choose to see people that way and not because you have a deep understanding of who they are or what they are doing means to them.

Why do we need to find women who do what the men do? Why do we not praise the women for what they already do? There is one type of functioning that women have and men do not - the entire reproductive ability and process. What if men were to develop the desire to infiltrate the menstruation hut of indigenous groups? Women have a biological function and culture around that thad binds them. men have created their own activities and communities and why can't we allow them to be men, praise their accomplishments, and allow that to be theirs?

Anyway, just questions I have often had.
By bubudi
#9281
good luck with that viewpoint, rusty. you're asking for trouble! you might want to rephrase some of your post because i think as it stands you will unintentionally offend a lot of people.

you make a good point that men have been somewhat left behind while women's rights have progressed, but that is up to men to address. also a good point that in africa, the division of roles of men and women are very clear cut, even more so than in the west. you don't hear women complaining about it. i guess that means it's tolerated and accepted in african societies. however, just because it's tolerated doesn't mean women are happy with it.

in the west, women enjoy the role of motherhood, many have hobbies, part or full time employment, are allowed to have both male and female friends, can choose their partners, don't need to share their husbands with other women, exercise choice over what happens to their bodies, have effective avenues of protection against domestic violence and would not be judged or marginalised if they became victims of sexual assault. these days, western households have a more or less equal distribution of work (or at least it's getting there).

the same cannot be said in africa, where women do not have time for hobbies, are doing most of the work (either at home or in the market place or in many cases on the fields), can't have male friends, usually have their marriages arranged, often have no say about sharing their husband with other women (either polygamy or mistresses), are inflicted with genital cutting against their will, frequently fear their husband's hand if things don't go his way, and due to the more intense stigmas and pressure to be a virgin before marriage, would feel totally harshly judged and marginalised if they became victims of sexual assault (with complete reason).

there is also the question of women who don't want to be mothers, or aren't attracted to men. they seem to be so very rare in africa. or perhaps they just don't have a say in the matter - must accept their fate to marry a (often arranged) man and bear children to him. the pressure for an african woman to have kids is so great that she must marry at a young age and if the couple are unsuccessful, the woman is usually labelled as being infertile. she is the one who must seek help to conceive. a woman having her first child in her 30s? that's about as common as sighting a solar eclipse.

if you were simply saying that the biological differences between men and women are to be celebrated, i think many people would agree with you.

what's wrong with women becoming good djembe players?
User avatar
By michi
#9282
Very interesting and provocative posts, but from Rusty and Bubudi.

I've been involved with the Australian men's movement for a number of years. That movement is concerned with many things, among them men's health, how to help men deal better with their emotions and how to stop trying to live up to an impossible hero image. In some ways, the men's movement is like the women's liberation movement forty years after the fact, but less radical and more gentle.

One of the things that are talked about in these circles is that the women's liberation movement should have been matched by a men's liberation movement but, sadly wasn't. In many ways, men were/are trapped in their stereotyped roles just as much as women and suffer just as much, albeit in different ways. Especially here in Australia, there is very strong pressure for for men to be strong, never fail, never exhibit uncertainty and doubt, never cry, always succeed, etc. This pressure is very much enforced by the peer group: mens' friends, called "mates" in Australia. Mateship is very different from friendship. It involves being hard, successful, tough, drinking, smoking, laughing off any difficulty or doubt, etc. In other words, not a terribly healthy thing. (Mateship is seen as strong contributor to Australian men committing suicide. Until a few years ago, Australian men aged 16-40 were the world record holders in per-capita suicide rate, and they are still near the top of the list.)

Steve Biddolph, a famous Australian psychologist, gave a talk a number of years ago where he spoke about this topic. He drove the point home with a little story:
You are a married man with two young children and your marriage has been on the rocks for some time. You tried talking with your wife, working things out but, somehow, you haven't managed to turn things around.

One day, you come home from work and you find your wife and children on the sidewalk, with the suitcases packed and the taxi waiting. Your wife tells you that she is leaving for good and that she is taking the kids with her, bundles everything in the cab, and is gone. You stand there devastated, everything you dreamed about in shards around you.

Finally, you decide to walk over to the pub to for some support and consolation from your mates. When you get there, you tell them that your wife just left you. The most likely response from your mates is "Just your luck, mate."
There is absolutely no doubt that women have been repressed, and still are repressed, in many ways, both in western and African societies. On the other hand, men suffer from the inequalities too, and many hate being stereotyped into a role just as much as women do.

There are people who argue that the traditional roles of men and women are something we are in danger of losing. Women try so hard to be as successful as men, and men try so hard to be as nurturing as women that both sides suffer in the process. (The cliché example is that of the ball-crushing professional bitch and the snag (Sensitive New Age Guy).)

Back to Africa... There is an interesting short snippet in the video "What About Me?" by 1Giant Leap where, in an interview, an African man talks about the concept of marriage. Quote from this interview:
When two people get married, they become one body. One should never reject the other, any time they want. If a woman doesn't want to have sex, and her husband forces her to have sex with him, this is what you call in England "raping a woman". No--that's my first time to hear this idea. [laughs...] And this could never happen in Africa here. We always think that your wife is your wife. Any time you need your wife sexually, she cannot object to it. This is why she is here.
Personally, I find myself very much disagreeing with this statement. But it does point the finger at something that, with all our ideas of equality, we may be in danger of losing. There are some things that women are inherently better at than men, and some things that men are inherently better at than women. If each side tries too much to become like the other, we play on each side's weaknesses, instead of on each side's strengths.

Sometimes, I do wish that I could play djembe with more women; when playing with men, I've been annoyed on many occasions at the male ego thing that tends to get in the way of making music for everyone.

But, in the end, I could not care less whether the player is male or female. I appreciate the music for what it is, not for the sex of the musician.

Cheers,

Michi.
Last edited by michi on Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
By the kid
#9299
What we need is equality liberation :lol:

I think its great to see women playing drums. Its good for everybody to drum.

Considering women have created so many songs and dances and even riddims i see no reason for them to be excluded from playing the drum. They deserve it.

Looking at the videos in this tread tells me that the women can drum very well given the right tuition and hard work which drumming requires. They deserve to be comended for there achievements and are an inspiration for other women to play drum and even excell at it and make a living playing and teaching.

I've yet to hear of a djembe master to refuse to teach women. I gather from this that they don't have a problem with women drummers.
User avatar
By michi
#9300
Mamady gives a little speech at the beginning of his workshops where he explains that the djembe does not care whether you are white or black, rich or poor, male or female, young or old. The djembe has no boundaries.

Michi.
User avatar
By e2c
#9303
You know what, fellas? There are a *lot* of men out here (in the US) who don't like the idea of women playing African and Afro-Cuban drums - there is a HELL of a lot of prejudice, and - sometimes - hazing - involved for women who want to try to learn. (Edited to add: there is often hazing of men as well, which is an unfortunate side effect - or maybe a kind of fallout - from some unhappy cultural realities here in the US. There are multiple povs here, and I think it's not an easy situation to parse, or to understand...)

It took me almost 20 years to find someone who was willing to teach me (a woman) djembe and duns without regard to my sex, skin color, etc. etc. etc. And I got some small share of the hassle that occurs when women want to play/learn; I'm sure other women (especially in the drum/dance community where I lived for many years) got much, MUCH more grief for wanting to try. Even now, you seldom see women in the historic drum & dance communities playing, although that - thank God - is changing. (There's even a killin' all-women troupe in Atlanta: Giwayen Mata - http://www.giwayenmata.org/ )

And meanwhile, Sule Greg Wilson's book The Drummer's Path (much beloved of many early adopters of the djembe, back in the late 80s-early 90s) STILL has passages about why women should NOT play djembe. Greg thinks the drum is so powerful that it will damage our ovaries (among other things). I have to say, with all due respect to him for his musical ability, that that is complete and unadulterated bullshit to the Nth power. Yet he has a lot of partisans.

I have also heard from women dancers about the unfortunate tendency (seldom discussed in public) on the part of many men in the US drum & dance scene to demand sexual favors in "payment" for playing and other coaching. (And also about sexual harassment and even assault.) AFAIK, this is coming mainly from American men, but I suspect that some Africans are involved in this crap, too.

So... while I'd be the 1st to say that not everything that's come from the feminist movement is - imo - good, at the same time, I get just a bit hacked off when I read posts like yours, rusty.

Personally, I think *everyone* - men and women, boys and girls - should be given respect for who they are and what they do. (provided they're making healthy, productive contributions to the community.) But please - PLEASE - spare us the Robert Bly "iron John" talk.

A side note: I've felt a bit uncomfortable with this thread from the word go, as I think the women players who are highlighted here should be presented in context with their male peers. Segregation (albeit benignly intended in this case) doesn't do anyone any favors. (and no worries, bubudi - I know your intention here is good!)

I also want to add that I generally feel comfortable and relaxed here on this board (as one of a handful of women who post here), and have been welcomed and treated as an equal by all the fellas here. At the same time, I've also experienced being forced out of another online musicians' community (one that i helped build) by some guys who wanted the place to be a "men only" hang - to the point that some really nasty things were posted about me in public. (Thank God, none of it was sexually oriented, but I was accused of being a castrating woman who wanted to "emasculate jazz," and generally ridiculed for "not being a musician," being a "musical illiterate," and on and on and on. [to be fair, these same people started in on a couple of men after they got me kicked out, and if anything, some of the ways they harassed said guys were even worse than what I went through.])

I have no problem acknowledging that there are gender differences (life would be pretty boring if that wasn't the case! ;)), but please - can we just be comrades in arms (or in drums?) here and leave the rants about men's rights off to one side?

And while we're on the subject of disparities, I have to say that I would love to see more American guys dancing. There's a dearth of male dancers here and imo, that reinforces certain stereotypes as well as limiting what can be done onstage and off. (Dununba, anyone?! ;))

peace,
e.

Edited to add:
I've yet to hear of a djembe master to refuse to teach women. I gather from this that they don't have a problem with women drummers
This *is* true of guys like Famoudou and Mamady, but this is a new thing. (Comparatively speaking; in the US, at least. Obviously, I have no idea what things have been like in Europe over the past 20+ years.)
Last edited by e2c on Sun Dec 27, 2009 7:17 pm, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
By e2c
#9304
Rusty said
I always find this interesting that certain people find the need to justify the existence of women by trying to find examples where they are doing what the men are doing. [...]

Why do we need to find women who do what the men do? Why do we not praise the women for what they already do? There is one type of functioning that women have and men do not - the entire reproductive ability and process. What if men were to develop the desire to infiltrate the menstruation hut of indigenous groups? Women have a biological function and culture around that thad binds them. men have created their own activities and communities and why can't we allow them to be men, praise their accomplishments, and allow that to be theirs?
Dude, ur doin it rong.

In fact, I think you're missing the point entirely, especially given the disparity between the relative roles of men and women in African society. Yes, we're biologically different, and that's cool, but I don't think that's the point. (there's a whole lot I could say about the division of labor between men and women in W. Africa, and much else pertaining to those cultures, but I'll let it ride...)

I agree that the people who created this music - and who nurture it and take it to new places (artistically, that is) - deserve praise. But please, let's give it to ALL of the folks involved - which is to say, men and women, boys and girls. And I serioulsy doubt that all of the music originated with men, or was created solely by them.... ;) (Ditto for dances.)

Oh, and re. that 1st graph of yours that I quoted, how about this: When I was growing up in the 60s, careers for women were limited to mom, teacher, nurse, librarian, secretary (that last being something that had only recently become open to women), maid, cleaning lady, nun (!!! ;)) waitressing, etc. etc. Options were super limited. And I cannot begin to be able to tell you how many girls - then and now - hear that they can't do something (whether it's academics, sports, certain career paths in the arts, sciences, industry, etc. etc. etc.) because they *are* female.

Or how many women (in the US) get paid far less for their work than their male peers who do the exact same jobs.

Not only that, women were socialized to defer to men in just about everything. Magazine writers counseled us to never beat our husbands/boyfriends/whatevers at chess or miniature golf or anything else because it was just plain WRONG to do so. As absurd as that might sound, it was reality for generations and generations - and there's still a lot of that kind of thinking in today's world, although it's not couched in those same blatant terms.

Sorry, but like I said: ur doin it rong.
Last edited by e2c on Sun Dec 27, 2009 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By e2c
#9305
bubudi wrote (bolding mine):
in africa, the division of roles of men and women are very clear cut, even more so than in the west. you don't hear women complaining about it. i guess that means it's tolerated and accepted in african societies. however, just because it's tolerated doesn't mean women are happy with it.


Er, yeah.

Don't you think this is related to the fact that these are developing countries that don't yet have universal compulsory public education for kids, as in the West? I think you would see a *lot* more discourse on this - and protest, likely - from African women *if* they were able to get this level of literacy and education. (Not to say that African boys don't need these things - they do!!!)

From what I've heard (from women who have lived for extended periods of time in Africa), there are a LOT of problems ... from domestic abuse to control of the lives of girls and women by men (husbands, fathers, fathers-in-law, brothers and other male relatives) that's extremely harmful. (again, I'm *not* saying that all African men do this - that would be false - but MANY do, simply because they can.)

There are a lot of things about African cultures (in general) that I wish we in the West would take to heart: a sense of community is one of them. A willingness to face hardship with grace is another, and a "can do" attitude goes along with that. I am amazed by what little I know about the creativity of people who live without "all mod cons" and are forced to improvise and create solutions for all kinds of practical situations/problems that would never occur to most of us Westerners. (There's a marvelous blog about this, the title of which escapes me right now, but I'll post the link when I do remember it...)

I don't think Western culture is necessarily better, and i do think a lot of us Westerners are seriously deluded in our assumptions of de facto cultural superiority. We're not at all humble II'm including myself here) and we have so much to learn from people in other cultures. (not just Africans.) But I find myself in a quandary here: in accepting that I need to learn, that I can benefit from the ways others live and view the world - does that mean that I have to embrace the not-so-good parts of those cultures? I personally think not.
the same cannot be said in africa, where women do not have time for hobbies, are doing most of the work (either at home or in the market place or in many cases on the fields), can't have male friends, usually have their marriages arranged, often have no say about sharing their husband with other women (either polygamy or mistresses), are inflicted with genital cutting against their will, frequently fear their husband's hand if things don't go his way, and due to the more intense stigmas and pressure to be a virgin before marriage, would feel totally harshly judged and marginalised if they became victims of sexual assault (with complete reason).
Exactly, b. And there are other things as well - for example, in a very upfront interview on Aropop.org, Kandia Kouyate discusses the violence she endured from her father and one of his wives (not her mother) due to her wanting to be a jelimuso. She was beaten repeatedly for this over a long period of time... (I suppose their intentions were partly good, since they wanted her to finish school, but their methods certainly leave a lot to be desired.)

And there are situations in which African women lose any say or control over their childrens'' lives, care and welfare. I personally know of a Togolese woman (friend of friends) who almost had her kids - all of them (4 or 5) taken from her upon her husband's untimely death. (It's local custom - her husband's family made a very unusual decision, though and renounced all rights to the kids. But... I don't know anything that's transpired since then - 10 years ago - and they might very well have taken them, or tried to.)

I had a Nigerian colleague in D.C. whose now ex-husband kidnapped their children and took them back to Nigeria. She had had no contact with those kids for years when I knew her, because when she tried to write to them or see them, she received death threats. She wasn't even able to get news of them... (This was many years ago and i don't know if they were ever reunited.) What her ex did was definitely tolerated, but that sure as hell doesn't mean it was right!

Multiply these situations thousands of times over (and add in what bubudi mentioned) and ... well. Life is hard for most all Africans, but especially tough for girls and women, in general.
there is also the question of women who don't want to be mothers, or aren't attracted to men. they seem to be so very rare in africa. or perhaps they just don't have a say in the matter...
You know what? These women aren't so rare at all - they have, as you say, little-zero choice in the matter.

As for lesbians and gay men, you do know that there's a big push in Uganda right now (aided and abetted by some Americans!) to make homosexuality/lesbianism a capital crime?! If this law is passed people who associate with gay men and lesbians in ANY capacity (as friends, business associates, etc.) would be subject to prison terms, as they would be viewed as aiding and abetting sexual deviance. Rwanda isn't far behind on this, either... and the crimes against LGBT people in Africa (including rape and murder) are legion. That's why the anti-homosexual wing of the Anglican Church (here and in the UK) has garnered such intense support from the clerical hierarchy in African countries, even to the point of US churches coming under the jurisdiction of the bishops of Nigeria and other African countries.

There was also a recent piece in the NYT about a gay Senegalese musician who now lives in NY. he fled the country (and was lucky to be able to do so) after receiving death threats as well as going through numerous physical assaults. per him - and other sources in Senegal - many people in that country are picked up and imprisoned for looking gay. (Whatever that means; I can see how this could be an ultra-convenient way of ruining people who are business or romantic rivals, etc. etc. etc., regardless of their sexual orientation.)
User avatar
By e2c
#9306
michi wrote
Back to Africa... There is an interesting short snippet in the video "What About Me?" by 1Giant Leap where, in an interview, an African man talks about the concept of marriage. Quote from this interview:
When two people get married, they become one body. One should never reject the other, any time they want. If a woman doesn't want to have sex, and her husband forces her to have sex with him, this is what you call in England "raping a woman". No--that's my first time to hear this idea. [laughs...] And this could never happen in Africa here. We always think that your wife is your wife. Any time you need your wife sexually, she cannot object to it. This is why she is here.
That man's attitude is absolutely sickening and abhorrent - although marital rape wasn't recognized as a crime here in the US until the late 70s-early 80s, and even now, there's a lot of sentiment against admitting that it even exists. (Just as there are still a lot of people who believe it's a man's right to beat the shit out of his wife and kids when he feels like it.)

I'm not at all sure that we're much different than this African man, on the whole, though things are changing - slowly, but they are... (Although they're certainly not changing fast enough for the women and children who suffer daily as a result of these attitudes and actions!)

Really, the man you quote seems to believe his wife is his personal property. We've got a word for that: slavery. And my country "tolerated" a great evil (the chattel slavery of Africans and their American descendants) for far too long, taking it as a God-given right (with screwed-up theology created to sanction the righteousness of "owning" fellow human beings). It may look as though that's light years behind us, what with Pres. Obama being in office, but I can assure you that the repercussions are still very much a part of american life, and likely will be for many generations to come.
Sometimes, I do wish that I could play djembe with more women; when playing with men, I've been annoyed on many occasions at the male ego thing that tends to get in the way of making music for everyone.
;) Yep, although i have to say that the guys I've played with in this geographical area are, in general, pretty low-key with the ego stuff and are glad to play music with anyone who's interested, women and children very much included. (That's how it should be, imo.)

There are quite a few women-only drummers' meetings/circles in the US; even a camp dedicated to women djembe players. (But I hasten to add, it's not really a W. African-oriented camp.) You know what? I don't want anything to do with this whole scene; it's not representative of who I am, or of what I'm wanting to do in learning to play this music. While I would *love* to have a few more women friends who play djembe and duns, the idea of making drumming (and djembe) a women's only thing creeps me out.
User avatar
By e2c
#9308
bubudi wrote: in the west, women ... have effective avenues of protection against domestic violence and would not be judged or marginalised if they became victims of sexual assault.
As for "effective avenues": I wish. (Though I'm sure that what little we have is developed beyond most Africans' wildest dreams.) Lots of people turn a blind eye to this - including many who work in the systems that are supposed to help protect women who are experiencing these things.

And there definitely is still stigma, judgment and marginalization re. women and girls who've been sexually assaulted and/or abused, though again, I'm sure that women in Africa have it far, far worse.

As with many other things in life, it's a matter of degree.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 10