International Womens Day; some women on the “Dondo” with beats and rhythms

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Sesinam, an eight-year-old girl of the Akpo community will just stop whatever she is doing once she hears any African musical instruments be it the drum, trumpet or the ‘dondo’.

She will closely sit behind the drummers at any event, especially at church services and look attentively making sure she either plays with the dondo or massages the skin of any of the drums.

Although her parents would prevent her from disturbing the drummers, choristers would however bring her closer and at times allow her to display.

Being observant, Sesiman would turn her mother’s utensils into the drum, specifically the ‘Dondo’ being her favourite.

At age 20, Sesinam blew the Akpo community with a spectacular performance with the ‘Dondo’ during the enstoolment of Togbega Gasugbor, the Paramount Chief and as usual, with the Choirs, they gave a spectacular performance.

Music lovers would agree that singing without the ‘Dondo’ instrument was likely to be linked to any food without salt.

Is drumming preserve of men?

Although drumming and use of local musical instruments was seen as a reserve for men, women have been up to the task and gradually taking over in playing these instruments.

It is thrilling to see how these women create beats, rhymes, styles, and rhythms with the instruments just as the men would have created.

The act of positioning the “Dondo” into your left or right armpit and hitting it to produce the seven rhythmical “gong” sounds could be a herculean task.

The expert in these craft could be linked to the experiences some of these women had back at home, church, or schools just like Sesinam.

The ‘Dondo’, anglicised as “traditional drum with a stick” and built for deeper tones and greater volume.

By placing the ‘Dondo’ between your upper arm and your ribs and squeezing whilst gently striking one head with the curved beater in the other hand, one can change the pitch or sound of the drum.

The world celebrates International Women’s Day annually on March 8 and this year, women like Sesinam could not go unearthed or celebrated.

The Day is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.

The Ghana News Agency (GNA) caught up with two women in the Hohoe Municipality of the Volta region who have command over local musical instruments especially the ‘Dondo’.

Women Experts

Madam Vivian Asamoah, a trader and farmer, and Madam Melody Agbozo, a Nurse would wow you with the ‘Dondo’ in their arms.

Madam Asamoah, a chorister in the St Augustine Catholic Church, Hohoe told the GNA that she began her love for instruments at an early stage.

Growing up in a secular and Christian home, she became a Christian as her dad was a pastor.

She joined the school choir while in class three and loved the ‘Dondo’ since the instruments used by the choir were kept in their house, adding that she became perfect at playing the ‘Dondo’ when in Middle School.

“I always want to carry the drums anytime we return from events and since our house was closer to the church, I volunteered that they are kept in our house.”

Madam Asamoah said although she plays other instruments such as all the drums; from big to small, she at times faces challenges.

She urged parents to allow their children to associate with positive groups to help them unearth their talents, especially the ones with the zeal and interest.

Madam Melody Agbozo, a Staff of the Volta Regional Hospital, Hohoe and a Chorister of the Reverend Seeger Memorial Congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Hohoe, said her master of play of the ‘Dondo’ could be described as a mystery since she did not learn to play.

She has been playing ‘Dondo’ for more than 25 years.

Madam Agbozo noted that although she played the instrument in the absence of the males, she would not describe it as a challenge because she had other roles to play including singing.

She said she was also good at playing drums too while she planned to buy the dondo for her children and encouraged them to learn it alongside other instruments.

Madam Agbozo encouraged parents to allow their children to learn to play musical instruments as it might be helpful to them in the future.

Madam Perfect Ayatey, a Gender Champion and a Tutor at the St. Francis College of Education, Hohoe told GNA that parents must not discriminate between the male and female child especially in discovering and nurturing their talents.

She said a mistake made by society with roles discrimination was assigning roles to a particular gender and denying the other of same opportunities.

Madam Ayatey said parents had a role in relating with their children at an early stage since most children developed their talents at such stage and the child must be guided and nurtured towards developing the interest rather than forcing them to tow the path of others.

She advised young girls to feel free to exhibit their talents and work towards them not be deterred.

This year’s celebration is themed: “DigitALL: Innovations and Technology for Gender Equality.”

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