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WDD… Deepening drummers’ role in society

By Omiko Awa
25 April 2021   |   2:55 am
Isioma Williams is a Nigerian traditional dance and drum instructor. The head, Guild Of Theatre Arts Drummers (GOTHAD), recently led Nigerian drummers to celebrate World Drummers Day


Isioma Williams is a Nigerian traditional dance and drum instructor. The head, Guild Of Theatre Arts Drummers (GOTHAD), recently led Nigerian drummers to celebrate World Drummers Day (WDD). He spoke to OMIKO AWA on the day.

What is the import of World Drummers Day to you as a drummer?
PERSONALLY, it is a great achievement for us (drummers) to have a day to celebrate our profession. A day drummers in the country join their counterparts in the world over to celebrate, share a common good, exchange ideas, drum together and increase cooperation among the different confederating groups.

It is a plus for Nigeria to be included in the list of countries that celebrates WDD every April 4. Christian Schages, a German drummer and drums teacher, initiated the day, fortunately for us, it was the same day Chief Hubert Ogunde, the Doyen of Nigerian theatre joined his ancestors in 1990; so, it is a day to remember the late dramatist, celebrate his life and contributions to the development of Nigerian theatre.

What steps are you taking to make the popular in Nigeria?
That is why the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) engaged me to create the Guild Of Theatre Arts Drummers (GOTHAD). Having a day to celebrate drummers and the drumming profession is a major step we have taken and look forward to doing more. Also, we shall continue to sensitise the people through our different programmes, aside from expanding our networks by synergising with other groups. As it is today, we have established GOTHAD in Lagos, Plateau, and Nasarawa states, as well as Abuja, the FCT. We look forward to establishing it in all the states in the country and also to ensure that each chapter makes its presence, relevance and importance felt in its community. It is a way to reach out to the grassroots people too.

What steps are you taking to unify all the drummers’ associations in the country into one?
Currently, we are on a nationwide campaign, and drummers’ unity is top of our agenda. Our unity is long overdue and we pray for stability and peace in our country to enable us actualise our dream. We are seriously working towards this.

What is your take on drummers performing for money at parties?
All we can do is to support and encourage them to do it in a more dignified manner. Drummers through such performances showcase part of our culture, as they dance and sing songs that are always relevant to the events in question; so, they remain part of our culture. It is their own way of eking out a living and promoting tourism because they put up performances that are always attractive to people from different tribes at the event and by extension foreigners. So far, they are doing it within the limit of the law and do not disrupt the party or event, they should be encouraged because, without them, a lot of parties will be very boring.

However, GOTHAD is working on a modality that will embrace all drummers, including the itinerant traditional drummers. We want to accommodate every group irrespective of their sphere of operation.

What is the socio-economic importance of drums to a country?
Drums and drumming can be a storage and archive of history. The two can be used to pass momentous messages from one generation to the other, aside from serving as a curator. They can as well be used to tell our oral histories and traditions. Drums and drumming may be different, they are both indispensables in the promotion of tourism, dance, and even passing information.

Has drumming any health or mental benefits?
Yes, a lot! Drumming is a great workout for the brain. It actually can make the drummer smarter because the actions that go on while drumming go to the entire brain. It can also ameliorate some health conditions like hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental health, among others. It helps to burn calories faster than many other forms of exercise, lowers stress hormones, and enhances comradeship.

Studies have shown that listening to beats can help increase concentration and cognitive function. Being exposed to rhythmic sounds demonstrates a similar calming effect as medication, and even increases the IQ scores of children. So, play drums, listen to the rhythm of the African drums, and share the vibes. It is good for all of us!

What messages are you sending out to the world?
My messages remain the same messages the drum has continuously been spreading to the world. It is a message of unity, love, respect, and peace. It is a message that urges us to always remember that rhythm makes us smarter.

So, Love a drummer, ‘Be a drummer and let’s together beat the rhythms of love and peace into the world’.

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