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  • The role of drums in Africa and its Diasporas will be the main focus at this year’s annual Grounation series to commemorate Black History and Reggae Month.
  • This year’s staging will be held each Sunday in the month of February beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Lecture Hall, East Street, downtown Kingston, under the theme: ‘Riddim Across the Atlantic: Di Drum in Africa and its Diasporas’.
  • Discussions will be led by local and overseas scholars and researchers.

The role of drums in Africa and its Diasporas will be the main focus at this year’s annual Grounation series to commemorate Black History and Reggae Month.

This year’s staging will be held each Sunday in the month of February beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Lecture Hall, East Street, downtown Kingston, under the theme: ‘Riddim Across the Atlantic: Di Drum in Africa and its Diasporas’.

Discussions will be led by local and overseas scholars and researchers. Among the presenters are Scholar, Researcher and Archivist, Maxine Gordon; Advisor to the Institute of Jamaica for Doctoral Studies in Visual Arts, Dr. Christopher Johnson; Senior Lecturer in History at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Mathew Smith; and Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institute and an Ethnomusicologist, Dr. Kenneth Bilbly.

Director and Curator, Jamaica Music Museum, IOJ, Herbie Miller, said the series will explore “the meaning of what the drum represents in the whole life of Africans transported into the new World to be enslaved and what it meant in the areas from which they were taken.”

“The fact that the Africans did not physically travel with drums as they made the voyage across the Atlantic, they carried the whole concept and meaning of drums within them,” he noted.

Mr. Miller said discussions will also focus on how Jamaican rhythms have influenced persons abroad, “not just the present day dancehall but all the way back to ska and mento.”

Additionally, he pointed out that the sessions will highlight how Cuban and Haitian rhythms have influenced Jamaican culture.

Mr. Miller said Ms. Gordon will examine the relationship of Cuban Gozo drummer, Chano Pozo, with his spiritual connection to rituals in Cuba, while Dr. Johnson will look at the use of drums in the African/American culture.

“His research exposes us to the use of drums even in slavery times in various forms, in weddings and other kinds of ceremonies,” he added.

Discussions on the life and works of Haitian drummer, ‘Tiroro’ and Haitian drums and Voodoo will be led by Dr. Smith, while Dr. Bilbly will speak about the unsound contributions of African and Jamaican Percussionists to popular music.

“So, we are really looking forward to Grounation being as fulfilling as it was in the past – educational, entertaining – and we expect a great cross-section of Jamaicans and foreigners to be here as usual,” Mr. Miller said.

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