Artists, Educators Aim To Transform Thinking, Laud Black Heritage In Color-Obsessed Dominican Republic

English: Children at a mission in Santo Doming...

English: Children at a mission in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic Italiano: Missione genovese del Guaricano – Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — In a school auditorium filled with laughing students, actresses Luz Bautista Matos and Clara Morel threw themselves into acting out a fairy tale complete with a princess, a hero and acts of derring-do.

Morel had wrapped a white plastic sheet around her multi-colored blouse, while Bautista donned a brown paper bag over her blue tights. The two black actresses wore their hair free and natural, decorated only with single pink flowers.

“Yes, you’re a princess,” said Bautista to Morel, who fretted that she didn’t look like a traditional princess with her dark complexion and hair. Bautista then turned to a young girl sitting in the front row, who shared the same African-descended features as both actresses. “And you too,” Morel said as the child smiled back at her.

The theater group Wonderful Tree has visited schools all over Santo Domingo and some in the countryside to spread the word among black children that their features and heritage should be a source of pride. That message, though simple, has been nothing less than startling in this Caribbean country, where 80 percent of people are classified as mulattos, meaning they have mixed black-white ancestry, but where many still consider being labeled black an offense.

Wonderful Tree represents a larger cultural movement that’s working to combat the country’s historic bias through arts and education. The Dominican choreographer Awilda Polanco runs a contemporary dance company that’s trying to rescue Afro-Caribbean traditions, while the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo has been training primary school teachers to respect and celebrate their students’ African heritage, including through skits that young children can more easily understand.

It’s a bid to transform a color-obsessed society where a majority of the country’s 10 million people choose to identify themselves as “Indio” — or “Indian” — on government documents despite their black roots, and many reject afros in favor of closely cropped hair or sleek blowouts. Public schools for decades even prohibited students from attending classes with their hair loose or in a natural frizz.

Such hair, in fact, is called “bad hair” in the local Spanish lexicon while straightened hair is “good hair.”

The Dominican population “has tried to disconnect itself from its African roots to the point where they’ve constituted a community that’s mostly mixed” but calls itself “indios,” wrote historian Frank Moya Ponsin in the prologue of the book “Good Hair, Bad Hair.”

In her school presentations, Morel flaunts her own natural looks as a point of pride. At one point in the play, Morel clutches a mask featuring straight black hair only to pull it away and reveal her dark brown kinky curls.

“This should be a source of pride because your color, your skin, your hair is an inheritance,” Morel told the children at the Albergue Educativo Infantil school in the town of Moca. “It’s the legacy of your parents, it’s the legacy of your grandparents.”

Morel said students have long been bullied and even attacked for their hair, while public schools have re-enforced the prejudice by cracking down on children sporting natural African hair, defending the measures as prevention against lice outbreaks.

“If it was only a health issue, it’d be fine, but children think there’s something bad about their features,” Morel said.

Maria Cosme, a Santo Domingo housewife, recalled the day she sent her young daughter to school with loose curly hair and a ribbon around her head. Teachers quickly tied up her daughter’s hair and warned it should remain that way if she wanted to attend classes, Cosme recalled.

“It’s a matter of racism, but also protocol,” said Cosme, who has straightened her daughter’s hair since age 4. She is now 7 years old.

Elizabeth Veloz, a graphic designer who always wore her hair natural, said the human resources director of her former company criticized her hair shortly before she was fired.

“He told me that curly hair is not proper hair, that it’s beach hair,” she said. “But the worst part is that he’s black, like me, and he cuts his hair really short because it’s kinky.”

Not everyone sees the hair issue in racial terms.

Hair stylist Yoly Reyes said she’s been relaxing her hair since she was 15.

“I am black and that will not change if I straighten my hair. But I think I look prettier with straight hair,” she said. “When have you ever seen (President Barack) Obama’s wife with kinky hair? I don’t think she straightens it to stop being black.”

Women in the Dominican Republic spend an estimated 12 percent of their household budgets on hair salons and treatments, according to “Good Hair, Bad Hair,” which included an economic and anthropological study of Dominican beauty salons.

Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who oversaw the killing of some 17,000 Haitians in 1937 in an effort to expel them from the Dominican Republic, was himself a mulatto who used makeup to make his face lighter.

Trujillo was the first to include the term “Indio” in official documents, said historian Emilio Cordero Michel.

Yet U.N. officials noted in a 2013 report that “Indian” identifiers don’t accurately reflect the country’s ethnicity and expressed concern about the country’s denial of racism. The government’s migration director, Jose Ricardo Taveras, has repeated such denials, insisting any racism is isolated.

It’s a claim that many reject, including Desiree del Rosario, coordinator of the Center for Gender Studies who runs the technological institute’s teacher training program.

Del Rosario said the country’s racism was tied to its troubled relationship with neighboring Haiti, where the population is darker-complexioned and where African culture holds a prominent place in society. Del Rosario summed up the common Dominican mentality as “The Haitians are black, and we, white.”

For Bautista and Morel, however, change is coming one child at a time. After one typically spirited, even goofy show, a dark-complexioned boy with his hair shaved close to his scalp approached Morel.

“I want to be part of your group,” the boy told the two women. “I want to be an Afro-descendent.”

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Hip Hop and Internalized Racism

English: Hip hop icon

English: Hip hop icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The White Supremacist Infiltration of Rap Music by Solomon Comissiong August 15th, 2013 @ 9:03am KKK_homepage No Comments 1 Vote Share with Shortlink: ________________ The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com _________________ Hip Hop music has been hijacked by corporate Klansmen who suppress the righteous lyrics of artists “like Dead Prez, Capital X, Immortal Technique, Rebel Diaz, Jasiri X, and Bahamadia.” Rap artists that have enslaved themselves to the production of stereotypes and gratuitous violence should be rehabilitated, if possible, but “we must boycott any music that denigrates people of color and women.” The White Supremacist Infiltration of Rap Music “The white corporate media that popularize racially stereotypical images hate black people just as the KKK does.” The late great African freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman, once said, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” This statement clearly alludes to the fact that, after a long period of brutal enslavement, many (not all) Africans had been force-programmed to accept their inhumane bondage as “normal.” Generations of Africans were born into one of the world’s most brutal forms of bondage: chattel slavery. Thus, they were literally forced to endure a most unnatural state of being. Africans were brutally beaten, raped, lynched and worked to death, for hundreds of years. Their European enslavers were nothing less than devils roaming planet earth. Despite these horrendous conditions there were some Africans who were oblivious that they were, in fact, enslaved. This aspect of slavery presented arduous challenges to freedom fighters such as Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and Gabriel Prosser – trying to free those who were unaware of their bondage, physical or mental. Fast-forward to the year 2013, this remains an arduous task. Chattel slavery may be a thing of the past, however, the US prison industrial complex legalizes mass incarceration/enslavement of African/black men and women. The 13th Amendment to the US constitution attempts to justify it, stating, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Mass incarceration is involuntary servitude, where prisoners are forced to make products (lingerie, computer components, clothing, etc.), all to be sold within the so-called “free market.” Capitalism, institutional racism and white supremacy are all key ingredients within this brew from hell. “Mass incarceration is involuntary servitude.” Today, mental slavery is perhaps even more prevalent than the physical form, and it takes place within many different platforms. One of these platforms resides within the duplicitous realm of mainstream, corporate-backed Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a culture created and cultivated by African/black and Latino youth who had been systematically marginalized by the United States’ white supremacist and instituitionally racist society. These youth created Hip Hop as a means to express themselves – socially, politically and culturally. Hip Hop’s creation and inception was free of Euro-American influence – at least within the earliest stages. These youth of color did not need their medium manipulated or diluted by white people who never gave a damn about them or their communities. In essence, youth of color did not need to have Hip Hop altered and co-opted by white America in the same manner that Blues, Jazz and even Rhythm & Blues (Rock n Roll) was. However, Europeans are always on the lookout for cultural “products” to exploit. People of color should be extremely wary when white people start to take an interest in our community or cultural creations. In the case of Hip Hop, exploitation of the cultural medium is the most significant contribution white people and their media corporations have had on rap music (one of the elements of Hip Hop Culture). These corporations have created virtual plantations with slave masters disguised as CEOs and overseers masquerading around as record executives and A & R (artists and repertoire) folks. Their goal has always been to make as much money as they can, exploiting Hip Hop and its artists of color, all the while reshaping it into something that comports with their racist sensibilities. White corporations that have stretched their slimy tentacles over commercial rap music are the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) of the media. The KKK is a white supremacist hate group whose origins date back to the 1800s. The white corporate media that popularize racially stereotypical images hate black people just as the KKK does. They are hell bent on destroying the images and minds of millions of black youth, actively suppressing any culturally empowering or politically revolutionary oriented aspects within rap music. They could not give a damn about the systematic oppression levied upon communities of color. They are no different from the virulently racist Euro-Americans who created racist and dehumanizing imagery during the early 20th century, and prior. And like today’s corporate Ku Klux Klan media, they used those racist images to sell their products. “Corporations have created virtual plantations with slave masters disguised as CEOs and overseers masquerading around as record executives and A & R (artists and repertoire) folks.” It has become convenient to solely lay the blame on black and brown rappers (they are not emcees) for the psychologically destructive lyrics and images they display within their “music.” These young men and women are nothing more than tools used by white record executives to accumulate boatloads of money. This is always done at the black community’s expense. It is tragically disconcerting that many of these young men and women are mostly oblivious to the fact that they are being exploited like prostitutes. The shiny trinkets and money these corporate slave masters throw at misguided rappers are rewards used to keep them mentally obsequious to capitalism and the plantations they dwell in. They are not unlike the enslaved Africans whom sister Harriet Tubman was trying to convince that they were, in fact, slaves. Of course, there are some so-called rappers who are willing participants in the own exploitation. They have become more than comfortable with the lavish lifestyle their corporate media slave masters have rewarded them with. It matters little to them that the stereotypes they are helping their white puppeteers promote, are causing tremendous psychological damage to youth of color. These willing participants are more like Sambo from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They truly enjoy being the overseer of the white media’s premeditated destruction of the African/black psyche and image. They are consorting with what should be seen as a direct enemy to the black community. “There was two kind of slaves. There was the house negro and the field negro. The house negro, they lived in the house, with master. They dressed pretty good. They ate good, cause they ate his food, what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their master, and they loved their master, more than their master loved himself. They would give their life to save their masters house quicker than their master would.” – Malcolm X Corporate backed African/black Hip Hop artists should abscond from the plantations they have been programmed to mentally dwell within. They should rebel against their media slave masters (i.e., Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, etc.) and create music collectives and art that directly empowers, edifies and politically inspires the communities from which many of these artists come. In essence they should invoke the spirit of many of our ancestors who rebelled against the oppressive and unnatural conditions they were held in. Just as the Africans rebelled during the Haitian Revolution, these African/black Hip Hop artists should do the same – inspiring Hip Hop artists all over the corporate media airwaves (plantations) to emancipate themselves. “Some so-called rappers are willing participants in the own exploitation.” These artists need to say, “To hell with the corporate music/media Ku Klux Klan,” and begin to pool their money, resources and time, in efforts to develop truly independent African/black record labels. However, before they can do any of that they will have to be made aware of their present status as subjects within the thriving plantations created for their ilk. Fans, concerned Africans and supporters of Hip Hop will need to be the ones to bring this fact to their attention. They need to be reminded that if you can’t write or rap about the institutionally racist and systemic issues that plague their communities, how can you even consider yourself a free man or woman? If the corporate media plantation (and those who control it) prevents you from utilizing your music to empower your people, you are far from being free. Hip Hop was crafted by people of color within neglected and oppressed communities. Hip Hop was created by African/black youth with Latino youth significantly contributing to its cultivation and development. It is a means of expression. It has long been a medium used to exert resistance to various forms of oppression. It is reprehensible that it is now being used as a tool to further oppress and keep youth of color from seeing US society for what it truly is – a wasteland of white supremacy and structural racism. This is exactly why these Ku Klux Klan music groups, and media corporations (Viacom, Clear Channel, etc.) do all they can to suppress the music of artists like Dead Prez, Capital X, Immortal Technique, Rebel Diaz, Jasiri X, and Bahamadia, among many others. These artists, their imagery, and music are routinely suppressed from the mainstream airwaves. While the Klan media suppresses songs like: “Malcolm, Garvey, Huey” by Deaz Prez, they promote songs like “Birthday Song” by 2 Chainz featuring Kanye West. One song (“Malcolm, Garvey, Huey”) has lyrics like this: “I live, I die, I organize, Everything I do – revolutionize, I build what’s good for the whole damn hood, Study G’s like these, really think you should, I study Malcolm Garvey Huey, Malcolm Garvey Huey.” The other song (“Birthday Song”) has lyrics like this: “When I die, bury me inside the jewelry store When I die, bury me inside the Truey store True to my religion, two of everything I’m too different So when I die, bury me next to 2 bitches.” It should be blatantly obvious why the Klan corporate media would suppress the liberating lyrics of artists like Dead Prez: they are empowering and edifying, especially to youth of color. However, the lyrics from artists like 2 Chainz, are mentally destructive, misogynistic (especially to women of color) and racially stereotypical. Many of the other songs the Klan media promote depict black men directing senseless violence toward one another. Klan media give the thumbs up to this type of rap music because, like the real Ku Klux Klan, it is capable of destroying black lives, one young mind at a time. “It is time we helped free them by demanding they end their ‘coonery’ and start making music that uplifts and inspires the oppressed masses to resist.” Hip Hop is not the problem, the white media corporations that have hijacked it are. Yes, there are rappers (not emcees) who are willing to do whatever it takes to earn a quick buck and get famous. They are prisoners of war in the battle against capitalism and white supremacy. It is time we helped free them by demanding they end their “coonery” and start making music that uplifts and inspires the oppressed masses to resist. Many of these rappers are misguided. This tends to happen within extremely white supremacist societies, as is the case with the US. It pressures the racially oppressed to assimilate as a means toward “getting ahead,” in life. The notion of “getting ahead” is merely relative, as well as a wretched illusion. While they believe they are “getting ahead,” they are really falling behind culturally, losing their identity, and perpetually being used as pawns. Their existence within the corporate music industry has been made possible by an inherently racist and exploitative system. This system prevents them from mentally venturing away from the “plantation.” Their minds must be freed. If they are eventually freed they will one day undoubtedly regret the decisions they once made simply to “cash in” and gain “fame” by lacing their lyrics with sexist, misogynistic and racially stereotypical content. “The house Negro, if the master said ‘we got a good house here’ the house negro say ‘yeah, we got a good house here.’ Whenever the master would said ‘we,’ he’d say ‘we.’ That’s how you can tell a house Negro. If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say ‘What’s the matter, boss, we sick?’ We sick! He identified himself with his master, more than the master identified with himself.” – Malcolm X We must free those who are oblivious to their slave-like status within corporate backed Hip Hop. We must let them know of the powerful role they can play within a much-needed social revolution. We cannot support the plantations they dwell on by buying their music. After all, would you go to a “slave auction” and purchase human chattel or anything sold by a “slave master”? No, our objective would not be to support the reprehensible institution of slavery, our objective would be to free those standing on the auction blocks. And we must let it be known why we are boycotting the purchase of music from corporate Hip Hop plantations. “And if you came to the house Negro and said ‘Let’s run away, Let’s escape, Let’s separate’ the house negro would look at you and say ‘Man, you crazy. What you mean separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?’ There was that house Negro. In those days, he was called a house nigger. And that’s what we call him today, because we still got some house niggers runnin’ around here.” – Malcolm X Of course there will continue to be those rappers and record executives of color that will continue to side with their “Massas,” just as there were during the times of chattel slavery. Those are the individuals who know the nature of the so-called “game,” and to some degree profit from the system. It matters little to them how many women/girls are targeted as sexual objects because of the music they help promote. They could give a damn about the young boys who are transformed into sexual predators because of that same music they promote. And they clearly don’t give a damn about the image of people of color or the endorsement of the senseless structural violence they champion, each time they follow their master’s orders. They have clearly made their deals with the devils of capitalism and white supremacy. Money is the name and selling out their communities is the “game.” These “Sambos” understand full well the damage they are helping to create. “They have clearly made their deals with the devils of capitalism and white supremacy.” Music has the ability to inspire and motivate those who seek freedom and justice. The beat of drums serves as a pulse for the movement, along with the voices of those chanting, singing, or even rapping. Take for instance the Stono Rebellion of 1739, where dozens of enslaved Africans in South Carolina decided to no longer accept the unnatural state of slavery. They refused to live any longer within those inhumane and brutal conditions. These courageous Africans banded together, led by an African named “Jemmy,” and proceeded to recruit/free as many of their brothers and sisters as they could. The beat of their native African drums set the audio tone for resistance. The history of the Americas is punctuated with such rebellions. However, far too many of us have allowed an oppressive system to teach us our history, and because of this we are unaware that resistance is within our cultural DNA. “But that field negro, remember, they were in the majority, and they hated their master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try to put it out, that field negro prayed for a wind. For a breeze. When the master got sick, the field negro prayed that he died. If someone come to the field negro and said ‘Let’s separate, let’s run,’ he didn’t say ‘Where we going?’ He said ‘Any place is better than here.” – Malcolm X It is long overdue that we regain our cultural resistance, identity, and mediums, in order to serve our struggle for human rights, liberty, and social justice. It is time we gathered all of our “drums” (and voices), to begin the necessary process of mentally liberating as many of our brothers and sisters from the corporate media plantations on which they subsist. Hip Hop is not for oppressors. We should never allow it to be utilized against our own collective interests. However, we cannot free those who are willing to be liberated if we refuse to speak out. We must boycott any music that denigrates people of color, women or supports senseless structural violence. We must be willing to organize and educate as many misguided rappers as we can – converting them into Emcees aptly educated to deliver lyrical daggers at systems of oppression. Hip Hop must be ripped out of the hands of the Ku Klux Klan music groups, and placed back in the hands of the people. Let the spirit of our ancestors guide us. Forward Ever, Backward Never. Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Mr. Comissiong is also a founding member of the Pan-African collective for Advocacy & Action. Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. He can be reached at: solo@yourworldnews.org.

 

African Music and Traditional Healing

Uganda harp.

Uganda harp. (Photo credit: New York Public Library)

Nzewi.

Backcloth to Music and Healing in Traditional African Society

The African Knowledge of Sickness

The old African world thrived on a balance of the physical and the intangible. In other words there was mutual dependency between the physical world and the active immaterial or supernatural forces, and African peoples survived because of the ability to harmonize the religious and the secular, the spiritual and the mundane, the intangible and the material realities.

The human person possesses, and is animated by, both profane and spiritual egos in symbiotic existence. The disease or malfunctioning of the one impairs the stability or efficacy of the other, and thereby the health of the whole. The cure of the sick must then be holistic for the African – healing the ego that manifests tangible ailment entailed co-jointly healing the co-acting ego that has become latently infected. The process of properly curing a physically ill person in the African medical practice then compels healing the person’s psyche or spiritual well being as well as the physiological. When herbs fail, heal the spirit.

Traditional Africa recognizes that when the environment is sick, diseases become prevalent; and when such diseased material or spiritual environment is rehabilitated, human health becomes secure. When the group spirit is polluted, the minds of individuals become infected, the human sphere becomes sick. When a human body is sick, the animating spirit becomes poisoned, and the human sphere becomes unhealthy.

The traditional African concept of illness recognizes natural and supernatural causes, ordinarily co-acting together. Ill health can manifest as malfunctioning physiology, mental-spiritual disorder or unusual external misfortune. Illness may be self-generated (psychosomatic), other-engineered, congenital or caused by foreign agents. Sickness is not always diagnosed as the malfunctioning of body parts or organs in isolation, even though the seat of the sick-feeling may be located in a body part – external or internal. Sickness could be a sign for something else, positive or injurious, which is impending. When such a sign gets mistaken as ordinary sickness, or when it is ignored and unattended to, the person harboring the sign may suffer permanent injury, usually mental.

In the community-structured African socio-political system the sickness of an individual generates levels of conflicts: Conflict within the sufferer, conflict within the family and compound unit, conflict within the entire geo-political community. The conflict could have social, economic or religious dimensions. As such, the suffering of an individual affects the well-being of many others, and would compel group empathy in seeking remedy. The community is concerned to avoid the incidence of illness of any category, and to manage or contain incidents of illness as a group even though there are specialist healers. It is for the reason that an individual’s sickness can impinge on the normal functioning of an entire community that African health practice places a premium on preventive health programs. Preventive health includes scheduled and mandatory environmental cleaning, avoidance rites to ward off evil forces (human and of spirit mien), as well as constant musical arts theatre that coerces mass participation, annual group spirit purgation music-drama (new-year rites), compound hygiene etc.

The process of healing the sick, which involves the restoration of the psychic health of the sufferer as well as the community, is structured and systematic, often contextualizing the community in ritual-theatrical dimension, in order to heal the entire community psyche. The active, supportive involvement of the community boosts the life energy of the sick. A stable psychological condition is thus generated for the specialist healer to undertake the specialized process of physical or metaphysical medication.

On Becoming an African Healer

In some African cultures a person who will eventually become a healer is supernaturally selected through signs such as sickness. The signs, which often result in strange behavior or physiological ill health, manifest irrespective of age and gender. When diagnosed, preparing or capacitating the person to become a healer could entail the medical-musical theatre of “opening of the inner eyes” (to perceive beyond the commonly visible) or the “reception of extraordinary communications” (from the supernatural forces). When a sign selects a person that must be “purified” or empowered to become a healer, she thereafter becomes capable of perceiving knowledge of sicknesses and curative elements through super-ordinary sensitization. Hence there are induction ceremonies, often locally discussed as “capturing the spirit” or “welcoming the ancestral spirit-guide”.

Music in Healing

Guitar being played by Tom Walton: White Sprin...

Guitar being played by Tom Walton: White Springs, Florida (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florida)

The term music here suggests the musical arts theatre of the structured musical sound, dance, dramatic arts and performance plastic arts.

Music in traditional Africa is the science of being; the art of living with health. Music is the intangible resonance of which the human body and soul are composed: The human body is the quintessential sound instrument; the human soul is the ethereal melody. A matching of human souls is the foundation of African harmonic thought and sound. Musical harmony is the consonance of complementary inter-dependent melodies and timbres – vocal or instrumental. Dissonance occurs when independent melodies or souls or tone/pitch levels fail to harmonize in accord with a culture’s normative idioms of interaction in life and music. Complementation of souls or the consonance of matching melodies generates healthy resonance – a healing energy. What constitutes dissonance is culturally, not universally determined. Dissonance of component parts or elements of a music event could be prescribed by a non-musical intention, which could be healing. Dissonance, whether of souls or co-sounding melodies/pitch levels/tone levels/timbres, arouses disquietude, a disruption of composure, which then compels a need to resolve irregularity. Otherwise, a state of disrupted harmony or accord would prevail, and could become injurious.

The Use of Drumming as Cure for Children with PTSD

Djembe

The Use of Drumming as Cure for Children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Copyright © 2003 by David Otieno Akombo, Ph.D

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be an extremely debilitating condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event in which grave physical harm occurred or was merely threatened. Traumatic events that can trigger PTSD include violent armed conflict like that of Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi, and Sudan. Others may include personal assaults such as rape or mugging, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat such as the veterans who are serving in Iraq or those who served in Vietnam and the Gulf Wars; rescue workers involved in the aftermath of disasters of the World Trade Center, survivors of accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, and other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their countries; survivors of the 1998 Nairobi US Embassy Bombing among others.

Effective treatments have now been developed to help people with PTSD. Research is also helping more scientists to better understand the condition and how it affects both the brain and body. Different forms of music such as drumming are becoming an important therapeutic tool. Drumming exercises greatly reduce stress among Vietnam veterans and other victims of trauma, apparently by altering their brain-wave patterns.

The effect of drum in the treatment of diseases should not be disputed. Since our ancestors first struck sticks and rocks against the ground, drumming has been a sacred ritual in many societies.(1) This belief emanates from the fact that throughout the world, the drum has been used for healing purposes. The traditional peo

ples of Africa, the Aboriginals of Australia, the Balinese of Southeast Asia, the Native American Indians, the ancient Celts among others all used drumming to bring the rain, the sun, a bountiful harvest, successful hunting and good health.(2) The drum has also been used in tribal societies with shamanistic traditions while communicating with the gods. In West-African wisdom teachings, Cottel (2001) noted that emotional disturbance manifests as an irregular rhythm that blocks the vital physical energy flow. Cottel also refers to current medical research which has shown that stress is a cause of ninety eight percent of all diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, immune system breakdowns, among others. Recent biofeedback studies (for example, Spintge 1992; Harner 1990; McIntosh 1996) show that drumming along with our own heartbeats alters brainwave patterns (increasing alpha) and dramatically reduces stress. Unlike the western cultures which rely on material evidence such as infection from bacteria or viruses, cell production such as cancer, or genetic defective chromosomes, the non-western cultures, relate to the diseases from a cultural perspective connecting the etiology to the metaphysical world. Their understanding of the disease etiology is embedded in their cosmology. For example the Luo tribesmen of Kenya believe that HIV/AIDS is caused by a curse. In this perspective, a curse is viewed as evil pronounced or invoked by another living person or the spirit of the dead. Among the Luo tribe, drum ensembles are performed with the object of exorcising the bad spirit from the patients.

Among the many African tribes, regular and balanced meter are regarded as a sign of good health. Even in improvisations, the performers are expected to render an exact replica of a standardized musical practice. These mythologies that relay regular and replicated rhythms to heal the person in an immediate and powerful way by removing blockages and releasing tension can be seen in the performance of a Kenyan tribal ritual dance, ngoma of the Taita as well. During this performance, a glissando is played by the lead drummer by gliding his left hand from the middle of the drum to the edge (kusira ngoma). By doing this, the drummer not only provides an expressively emotional pattern at the climax of the healing ritual but also provides a functional significance to the healing process because it is during this moment that the drummer sedates the pepo spirit to descend and exorcise the evil spirits from the patients. Kusira ngoma, which literally translates into “going beyond with music,” is the climax of the healing ritual and its ultimate extreme. This is the stage at which the patients shiver, fall to the ground and ultimately go into trance. During this healing ceremony, the master drummer controls the emotions of the patient while the patient unlocks his or her inner subconscious mind. In the middle of the performance when the interlocking parts become intense, the patient is induced to a state where they start to dance pathogenically as they respond to the mwazindika drum, letting their souls soar into the supernatural world to meet the deity. In a similar supernatural mediation, Cornelius (1990: 127) found that the Afro-Cuban bata drums were believed to be capable of talking and communicating directly with the Orishas, Yoruba gods. But this power of the drum to be able to speak is also possibly seen as a catalyst to helping people to talk. Ms. Ruth Noonan, a practicing music therapist in Longmont United Hospital in Colorado has observed that in her recent practice, she has witnessed the drumming helping a patient to regain speech:

via The Use of Drumming as Cure for Children with PTSD.