When Rasaki drums, even the spirits dance!

Rasaki Aladokun with drum
Rasaki Aladokun is a master drummer from Nigeria who comes from a traditional drumming family. His father was a drummer, his mother was a singer, two of his brothers and one of his sisters are drummers, and he is teaching most of his children how to drum. Rasaki, himself, is a very skillful percussionist, and an infectiously happy person with wonderful stories to tell.

He comes from the Yorubá ethnic group, one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria. He grew up and spent his youth in that country but then began touring internationally with King Sunny Adé (known as the "King of Juju Music"). Now, he has settled with his wife and children in Oakland, California, USA. He shows us some of the drums and other percussion instruments from his heritage (including both the large and the small "talking drum"), plays them, and explains how they fit into the society and culture in which he was raised - fascinating stuff!

Rasaki also plays the djimbe for us because, as he explains, even though it doesn't come from Nigeria, he can play it "real good." And yes, he can and yes, he does.

Rasaki and his drums show us something about an important group of people in West Africa who have also influenced America. Many African Americans in the United States have Yorubá roots, and in some Latin American countries, an even larger part of the population is descended from Yorubá. In fact, the traditional religion Rasaki follows is practiced (with some modifications) in several Latin American countries.

This half-hour documentary, part of our series-in-progress, Speaking of Rhythm, is completed. We can present it to you as part of an event, and it will soon be available for purchase. The host is filmmaker Eve A. Ma.

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