The Arts in Belize, Central America

Keeping The Culture Alive

A Drummer’s Passion

In Gales Point, in the middle of the village, when the moon is full, the djembet drums begin to beat as the Maroon sambai dancer gets ready to circle the fire preparing for the fertility ritual dance.

Gales Point is home to the Maroon settlers, slaves who escaped from Ebo Town over 200 years ago. And sambai dancing during the full moon remains traditional to the village. The dance is performed to the beat of the djembet, an authentic African drum created at the Creole Maroon Drum School.

Drum makers Boombay Andrewin and Emmett Young import their goatskins from Africa and professional sailing rope from Guatemala and New England. Mahogany, coconut, and cashew woods are fashioned to create the cylinder base. Mango and cedar are sometimes used as well.

For Boombay drumming is spiritual, and to Emmett it’s about being the best he can be. He practices day and night with the desire to be the most accomplished djembet drummer. And the motivation behind both is their desire to keep the traditions of their culture alive.

Boombay and Emmett perform at festivals throughout the country, manage their drum making school, teach drumming lessons, and go into communities to conduct drum making workshops for youth to encourage them to learn how to make drums. Anyone visiting Gales Point is welcome to participate in a two to five day drum making session. The length of the session depends greatly on the size of the drum desired.

To support the efforts to keep this culture alive, purchase a Talla Walla Vibrations CD available at the school in Gales Point.