The World Drum Project

July & August, 2011

During the last 5 weeks I have been honoured and blessed to host The World Drum (TWD) in South Africa.  My name is Geoffrey Tracey. I am a traditional healer (iSangoma) trained in the Zulu Thokoza tradition by Gogo Nomzimane Dlamini. As a healer I am called Gogo Hugh. My family have been involved in preserving African music and culture for three generations. See www.ilam.ru.ac.za

The World Drum arrives in SA, July 25th, 2011

The first two ceremonies planned were at:

  1. The Jazzfarm, see www.jazzfarm.co.za
  2. Saronde Farm, see www.thesarondecentre.wordpress.com – This is my personal family farm on which I am planning to start an education centre.

Unfortunately TWD was not able to appear at these first two events due to some problems with customs at the airport.  But people came to them nonetheless, enjoyed themselves and were moved by the discussions of TWD message and the playing and singing we did. It gave me the chance to introduce the people’s drum which I had made. I was prompted to have my people’s drum made after an idea from a Sangoma (healer) in my healer family for an African drum which could support global unity ceremonies such as the For The One Dance.

See www.ftoworld.wordpress.com for info about The Dance For The One organisation through which I came into contact with The World Drum Project.

People’s drum made by African Musical Instruments (www.kalimba.co.za) from cedar wood and two wildebees skins.

The events of note of TWD journey in South Africa included:

1. TWD meets Nzuza sangoma, Gogo Busani.

Gogo Busani in her ancestor’s room with her medicines behind her.

Gogo Busani is an important and powerful healer in what is called the Nzuza tradition which is a path that embraces four major African spirit paths. Her work has helped to weave together spiritual traditions. She is the daughter of my trainer, Gogo Nomzimane, mentioned below. We
sang a few spirit songs together, greeting the ancestors.

2. Expressive Movement Class with Sian Palmer and Florian Kroll at Bikram Yoga Centre, Illovo. See www.bikramyoga.co.za.

I was put in touch with Sian through my friend Florian. Together we had a wonderful and spontaneous mutual facilitation, combining Sian’s training in Drama and Movement therapy, my ideas about the African concept of Ngoma and Florian’s passion for Shamanism. ‘Ngoma’ is the closest word in the family of Mnguni languages for music, although it could mean singing, drumming or dancing or all three. This suggests that Africans traditionally wouldn’t separate these activities and see them as all interconnected. I combine this African concept with what I have learned from Jeanne White Eagle about putting one’s heart into spontaneous singing as a form of prayer.

3. Private Sound Journey with Vaughan Harris. A couple came to the Saronde Farm sound Journey, the first one that Vaughan and I did, and wanted their friends and family to experience it and arranged for TWD to appear again at their home. One participant shared that they had met their ancestors in their journey for the first time.

4. TWD appeared at a regular drum circle, hosted by Gavin Bezuidenhout and his company Drumzone at a central venue in Johannesburg city. see www.drumzone.co.za. Gavin has been an anchor of drumming activities for many years in the Johannesburg area. Although I found it a bit difficult to talk about sacred space in an echoey cellar of a bar, I was touched by the warm hearted response of many people who came up to me afterwards, who were interested in the drum and it’s message. My friend Guy came up and performed a Red Path spirit song, and a number of people responded beautifully with their dancing to the idea that dancing can become a form of prayer combined with singing and drumming.

Geoffrey talking about TWD with Gavin to his right and well known drummer David Oldfield on his left.

Guy Goode, who sang a Red Path song at this event with TWD. (It was in a cellar!)

5. TWD ceremony and sound journey at Sunmoon House Rustlers Valley. See www.sunmoon.co.za

This was an epic series of three events running into each other starting with TWD ceremony, followed by a sound journey with TWD and other instruments, and ending with a sweat lodge. These combined the musical talents of Nixiwaka, who is the main host and moving spirit of Sunmoon house and Natalie Vlismas, a beautiful Kirtan mantra performer and two musicians from her band Gidon Lazarus and Samora Ntsebeza. Together the five of us wove our individual contributions into a really beautiful sound journey for the dozen participants.

Sunmoon house is set in a dramatically beautiful  valley.

The Rustlers Valley, named so from its use in the past for hiding stolen cattle.

Taken from the Sunmoon side mountaintop.

The sunmoon ceremonial spaces, sweat lodge and winter garden in foreground

TWD sits near the mountain meditation structure overlooking the home and ceremony space of Sunmoon house.

Christian, Tracey and Natalie Vlismas.

Natalie and Mika, in her ceremonial South American Indian face paint.

Our ceremony group at Sunmoon just before the sweat lodge.

Nico chose this moment to administer hapay snuff to his friend!

(hapay is a S American way of taking snuff by blowing it through a pipe.)

Video clips:

See Nixiwaka singing with TWD at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LVanKQFJOI

See Geoffrey ‘Gogo Hugh’ Tracey sing a spontaneous song on top of the Rustlers mountain at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_0Tueiv6S4

6. TWD at Gogo Nomzimane Dlamini in KwaZulu Natal.  TWD was prayed for, to be welcome, and played during the ceremonies which were going on while we were there. The ceremonies were to acknowledge the graduation of a trainee. I would like to have introduced the drum to more people, but it did not work out that way. For the few days we were there, the drum mostly sat and talked quietly and privately to the angels in the shrine room!

Playing TWD in the ancestor’s room of my trainer, Gogo Nomzimane Dlamini.

The men traditionally sit together at ceremonies after their work is done and enjoy traditional sorghum beer and commercial beer.

Gogo Nomzimane receives the honour of being covered in a blanket by her trainee Gogo Nonhla.

Gogo Nomzimane in her outside open kitchen

Majwejwe brings the meat into the ancestor’s room on a special board for sharing and cuts into small bite size pieces.

Video clip: Watch Majwejwe dance up a storm to the Mnguni warrior rhythm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8VhA-bxlzI

7. TWD ceremony at Sifisesihle School in Mpophomeni Township near Howick, KwaZulu Natal.

Eidin Griffin is a good friend who is a wonderful horsewoman and also works with community development, food security and permaculture. She organised an open day for a rural township school in a township called Mphophomeni which means ‘Place of the Waterfalls’. The open day was called an Ilima which is a Zulu word which conveys the feeling of all the community joining in to do needed work. In this case parents, teachers and pupils of the school came together to paint the school, remove rubbish, work in the gardens, plant plants and share. The day opened with prayers and TWD was introduced and then we had a very exciteable few jam sessions with their own djembe drum player and the children singing and dancing. Some people thought I also came from Norway(!), and they said they felt special that they could share with its message which supported them but came from so far away.

The children gathered to sing

Vegetables and plants painted on the wall

The school’s winter permaculture garden

TWD is offered to be touched for prayers

The children say their prayers

Video clips: Watch the kids jam at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LxI4sLsMhM

and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eRLRkzIs4Q

the children sing a church song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpAulkMAb3M

the prayers : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3wSN6Ex-uU

8. TWD after a dinner party in the Dargle Valley, KZN province including Norwegian legends!

I was staying with my friend Eidin Griffin who had organised the Sifisesihle school open day, and we were invited to a nearby farm for a dinner party mostly of locals and friends. It was a wonderfully decadent affair with excellent food and drink, huge fires in the cold weather and gregarious conversation. I was asked to introduce TWD after dinner which I was happy to do and sing some spontaneous songs with it. The drum sparked many conversations and touched the people. One man, who is a well known sports commentator, got up and told the legend of a Norwegian God who travelled across the skies in a chariot drawn by two goats that would be slaughtered for eating at the places where he visited and the following morning he would bring the goats back to life and take off again in his chariot. The God’s only rule was that the people eating the goat must not break the bones as they eat the goat. One time though, someone broke the leg bones to get the marrow out and the next day when the goats were brought back to life, one of them had a limp and the god knew. Then there was some way of connecting this story to why lightning is not straight but has breaks in it and zigzags as it appears. I didn’t follow that part of the story. Maybe someone can confirm this story…..?

9. 2nd Expressive movement ceremony with Sian Palmer and Florian Kroll.

Expressive movement class. Florian holding baby and Sian bottom right in white.

10. TWD meets Russian Shaman, Oleg Ptukhin initiated by Nikolay Oorzhak.

Oleg Ptukhin was visiting South Africa doing seminars on overtone singing, jaw harp playing and frame drum/medicine drum playing, organised by Nixiwaka of Sunmoon House. I enjoyed the seminar on drum playing and learned a lot from him about how to use the drum to navigate the upper, middle and lower worlds. This way of dividing reality is an ancient Shamanic understanding I believe. Some very interesting information about the drum having two doorways to the upper worlds was realised by Oleg. He also said as he was playing and singing, he found the doorways and opened them for us! The skin is really remarkably beautiful on this drum, and just beneath the public doorway, the colours and patterns on the skin look just like an eagle flying! Oleg also said he had seen the face of the maker of the drum as he played. I showed him a picture I had of Birger Mikkelson, TWD maker, and he confirmed that that was who he had seen! Visit Oleg’s site at http://stezja.kiev.ua

Oleg plays TWD

The charm that Oleg wears which he drew on TWD skin. He wrote in russian around this charm “Blessings on all your beginnings”.

Rear detail of translucent doorways

Front detail of doorways. The right hand side one has what looks like an eagle right beneath it on the skin!

Video clip: Oleg familiarises himself with TWD :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpTvijBwCWc

When all my planned events had been completed I wondered what should happen next with TWD. So, I did a large clearing work of my space and when I had finished that I received an email from Ginette de Flueriot from Cape Town who was unhappy that TWD had not visited Cape Town and wanted to host it there. So quickly we made some plans and I was soon handing the drum over to Ginette’s friend Claire at the airport. But before that, on one of my last evenings with the drum I decided to spend an evening playing my instruments to each other. I have learned that drums and other instruments can convey transmissions of energy/information to other drums/instruments. My present medicine drum was sounded into life by an older drum of the teacher of that workshop. I felt like I wanted to share some African traditional music with TWD. So I stood it and my medicine drum up on the table and played the Zimbabwean mbira and a harp called Kundi from Central Africa to them. And then played the drums to each other as well.

On one of the nights that TWD was in ceremony in Cape Town my dreams were full of people that I was meeting and sharing heartfelt energy with.

I just wonder what the visionary and the maker of the drum are going through, if they get energetic downloads from all around the planet….?

The instruments that sang to each other.

Handing over TWD to Claire McTaggart who agreed to personally transport the drum to Cape Town.

Unfortunately TWD has not been able to connect with any of the first people’s groups. Maybe on another visit. During the first ceremony I met Phillipa Holden who works with Khomani San Park and Traditional Committee which supports the healing of the first peoples near a town called Upington in the Northern Cape.  See www.khomanisan.com

Some feedback from participants at the Saronde Ceremony:

Sian Palmer said, ”Some word associations with the experience feel the most apt…

Ubuntu, Making connections, Roots, rooted, nourishing, cleansing, interconnectedness, reaching, sharing, making space, transforming, being, being human, I feel that the concept of The World Drum and what it holds symbolically is of great significance to the world and our relationship with the earth and everything in it. It feels like we are returning to the heartbeat, to the mother, through this way of working.”

Karen de Kock, a music therapist who had just lost a very special patient with cerebral palsy said the ceremony was very healing for her and, “When we started the drumming, I was immediately transported to a space in which I could sing my pain. My voice took hold of me and carried me to where I had to be. I heard my sadness echoed back to me. I released some deep emotions and as the drums supported my journey, I felt the emotion moving freely through my body without getting stuck in any place.”

Rutendo Ngara, a Zimbabwean woman living in Johannesburg shared,“I find it particularly auspicious that the World Drum made its journey to South Africa in the wake of the massacres in Norway. That you spread the silent rhythm of its words through the airwaves within an hour before the explosion. (Geoffrey Tracey was interviewed live on radio) Yet, like a Shaman who travels far across land, sea or inner realms for Divine Wisdom; the Healer who struggles up the obscurity of mountains or the stormy depths of oceans for Sacred Medicine; the Seer who weaves through time, heart spaces and probabilities for a peek into Destiny, the Drum travelled on to connect with the Southern tip of the Continent of Song, Dance and Mystery.

I was certain I wanted to attend the ceremony because over the past year I have connected with the Sami and have marvelled at the familiarity of their Spirit spaces. A Norwegian friend of mine put together a DVD of some Sami rituals and listening to the yodelling I could have sworn I was in a far off Zimbabwean village.

The intention my heart put out into the ceremony space was for ‘healing the healers’. I feel such a heaviness about the brokenness within the hearts of those who facilitate healing spaces. In particular, my intention goes out for the healers within the !Xun, the Khoe, the ‡Khomani… and all those grouped under Khoisan in South Africa. My prayers are for those who are trying to hold together the last fragments of the Ancient Wisdom of a peoples broken by so many for so long…”

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One response

5 09 2011
Morten Wolf Storeide

Thank you for sharing this Geoffrey, wonderful to read and see the photos.
Blessings and Walk in Beauty

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