Posts Tagged West Africa

Krumping in the African Diaspora — What Goes Around Comes Around

Krump dancing in Liberia West Africa

The African American style of dance known as krumping is sweeping Liberia, West Africa.

Sometimes it seems the arc of history bends right back to where it started. Take the West African nation of Liberia. Given its longstanding ties to the United States — it was, after all, founded by freed American slaves — it should come as no surprise that Liberians are well versed in American culture. Even so, yesterday’s story on National Public Radio (NPR) about the popularity there of an American style of dance known as krumping is remarkable.

Why? To start, krumping isn’t just an American art form, it is African American. And although krumping ‘battles’ are often seen as expressions of pure aggression, the picture is more complicated. K.R.U.M.P. is in fact a bacronym for ‘Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise.’ Many of its herky-jerky movements and cold-eyed stares were inspired by the Holy Ghost Spirit possessions that are common in African American church services. And scholars have traced this distinctly animistic take on Christian worship to — you guessed it — West Africa, in particular the voodoo trance and possession traditions that originated there.

In other words, there is still no such thing as a cultural tabula rasa. Like the recent explosion of hip-hop across Africa, krumping’s popularity in Liberia shows that culture has its own inertia and destiny. What goes around comes around.

Amazing Griot Singer Performs for Africa Study Abroad Group

While eating lunch at the Afia Beach Hotel in the capital city of Accra this past summer, some students in our Study in Ghana group noticed a group of musicians at a nearby table. One of them had what looked like a kora, a traditional stringed instrument commonly found in Mali, Guinea, Senegal, The Gambia and other countries in West Africa. This man turned out to be none other than Adama Dembele de Zoumba, a well-known griot (master musician/vocalist/storyteller) from Burkina Faso READ MORE

Win A Year’s Supply of Fair Trade Chocolate from Ghana, West Africa

Cocoa farmer and Divine Chocolate part owner Adwoa Asianaa. Photo Courtesy of Kim Naylor.

Join ThisWorldMusic to support West African culture and development! ‘Like’ TWM on Facebook before January 5, 2012, for a chance to win a year’s supply of Divine Chocolate from Ghana. After entering, please help spread the word about this great company by following the prompt to share with friends.

To enter, go to:

ThisWorldMusic News: Win Chocolate!, January Study Abroad, Percussive Arts Society Int’l Conference, Sustainable Drum Making

Happy fall! Our October e-newsletter went out last week and includes the following:

  • Win Fair Trade Ghanaian Chocolate!
  • NEW: January Study Abroad Course in Ghana
  • Percussive Arts Society International Conference
  • Sustainable Drum Making in West Africa
  • Featured Blog


January News: Milwaukee School in Ghana, Boston Symphony Academy, Community Drumming Classes

Community drumming at Trinity Church.

Our January newsletter went out this past Wednesday and includes resources for educators, upcoming events, and other exciting news.  This month: projects at University School of Milwaukee, The Boston Symphony Orchestra Academy School, and community drumming classes at New England Conservatory and Trinity Church.

To make sure you receive email updates from us in the future, including news on African drumming workshops, performances and study abroad opportunities in Africa, subscribe at the top right of this page.

Too much commitment? You can check out the January newsletter here.

Oral Tradition and Community

Spent a most edifying evening this past Friday with my friend and colleague Anthony Douglass discussing Ewe music and history. He played me some amazing recordings he’d made years ago of his Ghanaian teacher singing traditional Ewe songs and decoding their various meanings, recordings mostly made on a series of Sunday afternoons at this man’s home. Good luck finding this stuff in a book.

And while you can probably guess that no two renditions of a given song were identical, the point here is that READ MORE

Confessions of a drumming addict — How it all began

At workshops, a lot of people ask how I got into drumming.  So here goes.

3rd grade drumming

Despite the misleading photo of me from 3rd grade (above), I didn’t start studying music until the ripe age of 18. True story! Growing up my folks never put pressure on me to play an instrument and I didn’t feel the urge to go beyond being a devoted listener.  After making a documentary on the Berkeley High School jazz program during my senior year there, I was inspired to take up jazz piano. READ MORE