Honouring the drum

The main concept behind Visioning, Toronto’s first socially conscious indigenous arts festival is the recognition that Indigenous nations of Turtle Island speak of this time as a moment for a shift in human consciousness, and that this shift is necessary to re-establish a harmonious relationship with Mother Earth.  It will be the artists who will awaken the hearts and minds of the people; it will be the artists who create a vision of harmony for the people.

On K’at (July 8th) the honoring drum event was held. K’at means energy: fire, center of the universe and is a part of the Mayan calendar known as T’zolkin. Visioning seeks to establish a connection with sacred time, for which the Mayan nation believes is a right for all of humanity.  Therefore, the dates selected for each event have been chosen to create harmony between the intention of the event and the energetic quality of the day.

The event featured Six Nation’s own Tehariwenhawih; Ruben Benny Esguerra from Colombia and the Afro-soul drumming of Amai Kuda and Y Josephine.

The Two Row Times spoke with Tehariwenhawih about what the drum means to him, “It’s special to me because I am passing it forward for future generations. Every time I sing I see the good energy around it that changes the room. The water drum is basically your circle of life. The wooden part you’re given as a boy showing you the responsibility of feeding the water to the drum otherwise it will crack. That water in there supports that life; without water there is no life.” The top ring part attaches everything the leather on it comes from the deer. It shows respect for land animals. That ring is what brings us all together in the way of the creator.

Franklyn McNaughton of Six Nations also performed and spoke about the other cultures “ I know my cultures view of the drum, it’s good that I get a chance to learn from other cultures. Its great to hear their explanations about the drum and what it means to them. I want to see what their creator had set out for them in this way.”

For Amai Kuda and Y Josephine the drum and music is about healing – the healing of ancestors, the land, the self, the community and society. Her name, Amai Kuda, means “mother to the will of the creator” in the southern African language of Shona. In traditional African custom Amai Kuda poured water on the floor in honor of the territories ancestors, the Mississaugas, before they performed for the audience.

Ruben “Benny” Esguerra from Colombia also performed. He told the Two Row Times, “My work deals with indigenous music from South America and African music from South America. It was important for me to be apart of this event because my brothers from Six Nations are here and my sisters representing Africa are here. The drum is very important to me it’s the first instrument I learned rhythm so from there I learned other instruments. The drum is something that transcends all cultures and all generations. Every culture in the world has percussion music. It’s an instrument that can unify, once you understand the drum you connect in other realms that arespiritual, you can meditate. You are able to obtain great musicianship skills.”

For more information about upcoming festival events contact  http://www.visioningartsfestival.weebly.com or visioningartsfestival@gmail.com

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