The Women Master Drummers of Guinea
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The following is an unbelievable story I recently read regarding women in Africa who are literally being disowned by family members for playing the drums. That's what many members of the Amazones (The Women Master Drummers of Guinea) have to deal with in their native African homeland of Guinea.
The instrument of choice in The Amazones performance is the djembe. Traditionally played by men in Guinea, the djembe is forbidden for women to even touch. Several of the women in the group have been shunned by their families, where in one case a mother of one of the djembe players not only disowned her but told her to look for another job, and even burnt her performance costume. It's wild to think that this is happening in the 21st century. "The mind couldn't get it that the woman decided to do this," said the Amazones' founding director Mamoudou Conde.
Conde said he encouraged the Amazones, a group of up to 14 women, to push past the criticisms and to stick with the djembe. "One of the reasons for bringing the girls on this instrument for me, is really to speak out," Conde said. "Part is a fight for African women and their rights." Conde added that after nearly a decade of performing worldwide, the women's families are starting to see inspiration in the group's determination, and even young girls are becoming exposed to the instrument.
"Many girls now are picking up some of these instruments," Conde said. "They see their mother doing something they want to do. This really gives girls courage and ability to do what they want to do.