• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

African drum, dance artists share culture


BI-OKOTO artist Chukwudi Arogbotimi explained how people in Africa use drums as a means to communicate. "Drums talk in Africa," he told those attending a luncheon sponsored by the Woodford County Library. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Two performing artists from the Bi-Okoto African Drum and Dance Theater shared some of their country's culture, music and language with attendees of a luncheon sponsored by the Woodford County Library on June 24. To begin the library program at First Christian Church in Versailles, Bi-Okoto artist Chukwudi Arogbotimi explained how people in Africa use drums as a means to communicate. "Drums talk in Africa," he said. Arogbotimi and Debola Olowe then demonstrated how drums were used by African kings to assemble everyone at the palace before playing "the music of the king" and then explaining how to greet the king. "You don't say, 'Hi,' to a king," explained Argobotimi. ".There are special ways to greet the king." Argobotimi called on two audience members to demonstrate how a man and woman properly greet a king in Africa, before speaking and then singing in an African language. He then asked everyone to repeat words in that language with him. Later, Argobotimi showed them how to do a West African dance to rid the body of all bad things while taking in all the good ones. He asked everyone to participate. "Everything about our life is spiritual," said Argobotimi. He explained why he dances in bare feet - because "everything about Africa is natural." And why he wears a certain style of clothing - because "you're able to move freely" when performing a traditional African dance. When asked if these traditions are becoming less common in Africa, Argobotimi said, "Nobody wants to put on this (clothing) any more, but you can't run away from your roots, anyway." He said most families no longer follow a traditional way of life on an African continent where 350 different languages are spoken in Nigeria alone. English remains that country's official language because it was colonized by the British. The Woodford County Library's summer reading program - On Your Mark, Get Set. Read" continues with programs for children, teens and families through July. For a calendar of library programs, visit www.woodfordcountylibrary.com.

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