Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Blair's Africa Journey

Blair Phillips founded Common Vision to help solve today’s environmental problems by integrating old and new cultural practices that connect people and communities to the Earth. For the past 8 years Blair has been studying West African agricultural rhythms, drumming for youth in performances, and using the drum as a tool to teach about ecology, farming, and community.

This winter Blair journeyed through Africa from the dry land tropics of Mali to the humid coast of Conakry, Guinea to deepen his study and develop the group’s presentation of the relationship between music and farming.

Two agricultural rhythms Blair encountered in his study were Konkobas and Kassa. Dances from African traditional villages mimic everyday movements like pumping water and harvesting millet. Konkobas was the original farming rhythm: it came from the Malinka words kon kon bas translated to ‘big, big hungry.’ These words became ‘Konkobas’ the ancient ancestor spirit of the strongest and hardest-working farmer.

Later, when villagers needed to increase production to meet the needs of colonial powers and to feed an expanding population, the rhythm
Kassa was born. Kassa means, “You MUST farm.”

In Guinea, drums accompany farming work parties. Drummers and farmers work together in ceremony to accomplish large, important farming projects such as clearing fields and harvesting. Fruit Tree Tour offers youth a chance to engage in this ancient tradition of farming with rhythms. Both Konkoba and Kassa are featured in this year’s Fruit Tree Tour drum and dance performance. During community plantings students, parents, and community members have the opportunity to dig and plant to these rhythms.

We hope sharing these ancient cultural traditions helps map out how we are all interconnected with each other and with the earth, inspiring us all to work hard for a better future as one human family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing back the beat from the motherland.