Yesterday, after a drum lesson in the morning and a great lunch of yam chips and red sauce (my favourite) we all piled into three trotros, each wearing a traditional cloth, either tied in the women’s or men’s style and headed down the red dirt road to a nearby village for a community drumming. This afternoon event featured Unity, a group from here in Dagbamete, and they were performing a burial ritual for a Unity member who had passed on a while back and who had lived in this area. Although the funeral itself was over, this particular group did not have a chance to properly mourn their member so this was the chosen date for this to happen. Lucky us. Some lovely soft and delicate bell sounds were playing when we arrived, accompanied by gentle singing from the crowd of 300-400 or so gathered. Elders were seated at the back of the large double atsimevu drums in a row of plastic chairs, complete with the woolen toques common to these kinds of events. Soon the drums began to play in the typical 12/8 pattern from this area accompanied by a whole two rows of axatses (rattles) which indoors would be deafening but here, under a canopy of palm branches in the humid air is simply intoxicating instead.
There was a small group of women who danced around the perimeter of the large group in a line, kind of leading and inspiring everyone. A few of our female group joined in their cool and twisty moves, sometimes holding black scarves. Lots of breakout dancing duos and trios emerged often asking us to join them. Jona in particular was asked to dance MORE than several times, probably due to his hair which is a big draw(see picture) as well as his cheeks which got pinched a bunch. Incidentally, our kids who have braces are also a big hit, as locals think they are mouth jewellery, since some even have coloured braces….
A few kids wandered off to get a Fanta with Jambolah, our beloved driver, who takes great care and always has a protective and watchful eye over our gang. Most of us danced at some point and I was thrilled to be given a horsetail and asked to dance with the line of elders who were led around the perimeter of the group by ladies with switches (!) in a slow groove…then at each direction we turned and faced the inner group and did the usual Ewe movements. We were all smiling coming back to Dagbamete for sure. Another “typical village day”