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The drums called him      #nigeriandrumming #festivity  #talkingdrum  #konga  #musicandsinging #conquest  #cultural

In the round table where he sat, laughter reigned, jokes were cracked, banters and pleasantaries were exchanged There was a constant stream of folks to this table to pay obeisance to one man. This man was full of smiles and cheer, regardless of his situation. He infected everybody with his robust cheerfulness.  His friend, an old ally stayed by his side and he talked with his friend. His wife sat next to him and some of his wife’s friends, sat on the other curved side of the table. To his immediate right was Surita. And to his immediate left was Sule. Surita was decked in a gold coloured apparel – Buba and Iro*. She tied a purple head gear, in a local style. It had taken about two hours for the headgear to be tied and her face to be made up. The make-up artist was booked one month in advance for this event. It was the celebration of the exit of Pa. Montegro. The last stock of the returnee slaves who came with the Liberty ship to Freetown. His great great great grandfather was Mr. Montegro who schooled in the famous Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone and returned to Nigeria as an eminent historian scholar par excellence.

The man himself Mr. Kunle Montegro, was simplicity personified. Though money was never a problem for the kunle’s, they lived knowing the value of money. When it came to party times, the Kunle’s sure did know how to reconfigure themselves to make the moment count. Surita was the type who loved dancing. She would dance and dance till the musicians would run out of praise singing for her. The culture in the Yoruba land of Nigeria was, when it was dance time during an event, the celebrants would go to the centre stage and dance.  Family and friends of the celebrant would join them in the centre stage and dance along with them. It is during this epic moment that monies are sprayed. Different denominations of naira and dollars are sprayed. The musicians would praise sing the sprayers because they also benefit from the flow of the largesse. Surita was bending down and digging it in, the crowd cheered. Beads of perspiration turned to rivulets. The drums talked non-stop.

Kunle bent his head over to Sule and whispered “I hear the drums calling me”.

Sule laughed and slapped Kunle on his back.

The drums talked on. The konga drums were handled by drummers who understood the drum. It awakened something in Kunle. Kunle nodded and oscillated his head to the right, to the left, swung his shoulders and began to sing along. The tune playing now was ‘Miracle miracle’. It was a very popular tune but what made the difference was that the talking drums were handled by trio of  Olawale, Adesina, and Akeem. These konga drum specialists were from drummers’ families. They have a history with drums, they have a connection with drums, drumming is encrypted in their DNA.

Looking over to the platform at the drummers reminded one of the synchronized movement during Olympics swimming. Their shoulders vibrated at the same time. Their knees buckled at the same time, their waists twisted at the same time. It was synchronized. Ayinde, the singer had moved from the song ‘miracle miracle’ to eulogizing Surita who was spraying wads of naira notes. Friends and family members followed suit in the spraying. The centre stage seemed like, it was possessed. The spirit of the drumming had seized the drummers and they gave different renditions of waltzes and dances. The audience chuckled. People laughed and lauded the dancers. Phones were videoing and taking photos. Photographers made brisk business. They took unauthorized photos of folks and quickly printed them off in different sizes of paper and sold the photos to the individuals. Some paid for the photos, some didn’t. Some just grabbed their copies. A woman was overheard shouting at a photographer, “who asked you to take photos of me eh?”

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