IT WAS AH sad but hys-storyck incident dat took place at last Thursday’s protest march in Kingstown, when the police con-fist-taketh de (Afro-Carry-beyond) drums and arrested de drummers. Hear me eh.
Whether it’s African or Indian, these tribal drums are not to be underestimated. Researchers and scholars share de common view, dat like humans, each drum has its own very unique voice and vibration. De skin of each animal from which the drum is made has its own unique medicine: its Spirit is part of that drum. De African Hand Drum is ah sign ah Peace but when yuh see men beating drums wid sticks, it may suggest serious business.
Long Long ago, in former times drums were part and parcel of de Civil-eyes-hay-shun: “in Worship/Religion, Communication, Celebration, Whatever.” Our Ancestors played drums in times of peace and war, planting and harvesting, birth and death.
Even Lie-Za add-myth dat de Vibes she pickedup from de Rhythm of de drums and NRG of de Protestors last Thursday smacked of passion. She sensed dat de spirit of our Ancestral Warriors had come out to Celebrate. So powerful was de sound of de drums dat even de police were confused, dey were hearing banned Amplified Music when dey was none.
I grew up when de Bum Drum was going thru its die-in stage. We had two Bum Drum Bands in my community, Murray vVillage. There uses to be ah Spirit, ah Feelings in de surroundings for each Season, not Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring, but Christmas, Carnival, Easter and August (Emancipation). Each season had its Mood, Music, Fruits, Flowers, Birds etc, and de sound and rhythm of de Bum Drum was ah timely reminder.. Dey was no Christmas Feelings until yuh heard de music ah de Bum Drum.
However, one ah my greatest encounter wid de Power of de Drums was while wuking in Canouan around 1971, Dey was ah bad drought in de Grenadines, no rain foh de whole year, no planting of de short crops; de loss of animals was great. One night, we were at Gabriel Mitchell’s shop, drinking Sugar Cane Brandy and condensed milk, no ice eh! De older folks n de island were having ah “Maroon” an African Religious Ceremony (sacrifice foh rain), at de Grand Bay Pond, De organ-noise-sirs had de table preparated foh de Spirits: candles, nuff small vessels wid water, dry-seeds corn and peas, flowers and ah Christian Bible. Windy Dublin, one of de older wukers in my crew who knew how to play Drums, took away de Bass, he really had too much Brandy to drink, and beat de Demon out ah dat drum till de skin buss, Maroon mash-up. Needless to say de Canouan folks were raging mad, it was sacrilegious.
Next day dey was ah lot ah ten-shun on de site, de folks demanded an apology, but by about 10:00 a.m. sun burning down de place, alas! Ah low, dark cloud appeared, quickly we packed-up and by 12:00 noon, thunder started to peel, followed by ah light shower and den it pour for de 36 hours nonstop, Can-One washed away! Tanks over-flowed, de Salt Pond Reservoir was full and running over.
We remain in closed doors foh two days. When we went back to work, we made our usual stop at Gabriel Mitchell’s shop; to be greeted wid a big smile. He announced dat several of de villagers had left ah message and some drinks in de shop for us. Pleasantly shocked, de drinks included Sugar Cane Brandy, Jack-Iron strong Rum. Quinquina Wine, all Contra Bond stuff (illegal). And de Message was “ah Big Thank Yuh” to de Ole fellar (Windy) who beat de Drum till it buss, and brought de Rains. Windy became ah hero. So Colin and Ralph all yuh doh touch dem Drums! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.