City Life Center students pay homage with African drum performance

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Information provided by the Gary City Life Center

GARY, Ind. (February 11, 2020) – Students in City Life Center’s after school program prepared for their black history showcase with a special drumline involving african drums. The students were eager to embrace the unique challenge of combining the cadences of traditional marching drums and the djembe, an african drum made from wood and animal skin.

Drum instructors Dwayne Hunter II (left) and Babu Atiba practice with student Rani Vaughn for the black history showcase on Feb. 25. (Photo provided)

“It’s pretty cool. I like how everything blends with the african drums,” said eighth grade student Tay’Veion Mayo. “I’m excited for everyone to hear what we’ve been working on.”

The two instructors of the class also shared the same passion about the students’ music and the cultural impact. The drum instructor Babu Atiba has played the african drums for almost 50 years and co-founded the Muntu Dance Theatre in Chicago. Atiba’s passion for playing and teaching was more than just about making music.

“Music is magic. Music is healing. This is therapy,” said Atiba. “We are completing ourselves as a people with our cultural music. We are bringing together our ancestral music with our modern improvisations.”

The co-instructor, Dwayne Hunter II, has taught percussion for eight years and shared excitement about collaborating with the two drum classes. “I see a holistic part of ourselves with each other,” said Hunter. “We reach each other through vibrations, regardless of how far apart we are from our culture.”

According to the two instructors, the students’ drumline performance symbolizes the unity of the African and African American culture. “That’s why it’s so unique because you get to see the culture and the modernization of the culture,” said Hunter. “Together it’s two different styles of drumming, but one dynamic.”

“We call it ‘edu-taining,’” said Atiba. “We are educating and entertaining at the same time. We are spiritually uplifting people.”

The drumline performance will be featured in City Life Center’s “Young, Gifted and Black” showcase on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. The event is free. City Life Center is located at 225 W 5th Avenue in Gary.

City Life Center is a non-profit organization based in Gary, Ind. that helps families thrive by connecting them to opportunities, resources and information. For more information, visit www.citylifenwi.org or call 219-880-4851.