How Memory Survives

How Memory Survives: The Drum was a performance-based workshop at Deptford Literature Festival that explored African and African-Caribbean literature through the drum. The workshop focused on the materials used to make the drum, and how the sound of the drum has been used to gather community, mobilise resistance, and preserve cultural memory. In the workshop, participants were prompted to reflect on how drum polyrhythms connect the African continent with the Caribbean and Britain.

A polyrhythm is born out of intersecting drum patterns, accompanying instruments, dance movements, vocal chanting and the sounds of the surrounding environment. A polyrhythm can also reveal migration and colonial routes, sounding shared social histories as well as experiences of making home and building community. For this drum circle we played three polyrhythms: the mento, the kumina and the burru. At intervals between playing the rhythms, we read a range of literature to demonstrate the presence of the drum in African and African-Caribbean culture.

Reference materials:

Francis Bebey - African Music: A People's Art

Kamau Brathwaite - The Arrivants: The Making of the Drum

Ras Happa - The Kumina

w/Vee Belinga - Kumina dub