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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Drums and tales celebrates Black History Month at library


Niagara-on-the-Lake library was filled with rhythmic drumming Saturday afternoon.

In celebration of Black History Month, Babarinde (Baba) Williams visited NOTL to host a “Tales by Moonlight” drumming workshop.

Williams is a popular guest at local libraries and schools where he performs and hosts interactive and multimedia drumming sessions.

“I’ve been booked since January all the way ‘til the end of April. Every single day,” he said. “And every weekend in Black History Month, I go to a library.”

It was Williams who first reached out to NOTL library and suggested he come to visit.

“I’ve read so much about the city itself and the fact that it is very close-knit is very unique,” he said.

Williams has been playing drums since he was little.

He also founded Drums et al, a company “meant to bring the joy of drumming, and to educate, inspire and entertain all at once.”

From his workshop, the Nigerian native said he expects people to learn something new and understand the principles of community and collaboration.

“The drums always come out when we need to talk about anything important in the community in Africa,” said Williams.

The reason why participants use Djembe, one of the types of drums, is thanks to its structure, high range, and how easy it is to carry it around.

“The Djembe represents all African drums in this workshop,” said Williams.

During the event, he taught the audience the basics of drumming and told the story of The Turtle and The Pot of Wisdom, one of the West-African folktales Williams said he grew up hearing. The moral of the story, he said, is to be humble and disciplined.

“The drums are for adults, the stories are for the kids,” Williams told The Lake Report. “The part of the session is for grown-ups to drum and listen to the stories. But I want the kids to be part of the stories. If I ask the question, it’s for the kids. I allow them to talk and this way I teach the kids.”

After the event, Williams said he loved the energy.

Debbie Krause, the library’s engagement coordinator, said she was pleased with the event’s turnout.

“The response was wonderful, very positive,” she said. “I think we learned a lot and we had a lot of fun doing it.”

One of the attendants, Joy Mcfarlane Brown, said the event was fantastic.

“It was an excellent activity to do,” said Brown. “The (event resonated) with me through rhythm, the sound and just thinking about my ancestors (who came from Africa).”

Monica Armstrong, another participant, said she also enjoyed the event.

“I have one of these little drums at home. And I didn’t know exactly how to work it so now I know how to work it,” she said laughing. “I love rhythm. And this is a lot of rhythm.”

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