Kittatinny Drums With Kofi

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    NEWTON-"Drumming is the heartbeat of humanity. It balances both positive and negative energies in the individual and ultimately in the community. Drumming heals." So says Maxwell Kofi Donkor, an outstanding, award-winning sculptor and educator, who admits that it is drumming that inspires him. At the invitation of the International Club at Kittatinny Regional High School, Kofi arrived for an after-school program with his original sculptures and several unusual musical instruments, including more than a dozen drums which he had personally made. Dressed in native African garb, the soft-spoken visitor explained the traditions of his African ancestors and encouraged several students to join him in some drumming performances. Three students also volunteered to model some of the colorful costumes, which folded around them in the fashion of tribal robes. Kofi first learned the skills essential to a drummer at his grandfather's knee, in his native village, Otumi, in Ghana, West Africa. As a teenager, like many Ghanian youths, he was commissioned to carry on the traditions of his ancestors. He has performed for a number of years with the Folklore Ensemble of Ghana and has been drumming and performing for more than 30 years, with such nationally known drummers as Babatunde. Arriving in the United States in 1992, Kofi has been teaching art to children as well as adults. His programs range from teaching special needs children to use potter's wheels, kilns, and woodworking tools, to elementary, secondary, and university level school programs in the areas of African dance, sculpture, traditional adinkra hand printing, drumming, drum-making, and storytelling. Kofi's music creates the atmosphere of an indigenous African village, where everyone gets involved. It celebrates daily life, marriage, initiation, birth, first sprouts of corn, harvest, the community welcoming of guests, even death. His songs and rhythms have been passed on from generation to generation in an unwritten form.