Society of the Week: African Singing and Drumming Society

Durham University’s African Singing and Drumming Society

What inspired the setting up of African Singing and Drumming Society?

African Singing and Drumming society was set up by Peter Okeno teaching African drums and songs to students, but has grown from strength to strength since then.

Do you sing traditional African songs or modern songs too?

We sing traditional songs from central, eastern and southern Africa.

Do you have to have previous experience of drumming to join?

Most of our members didn’t have any experience of drumming or even singing for that matter before they joined. While not everyone finds the drums easy to pick up, it’s fun to give it a go, and we take things very slow for beginners.

Why is your society better than the University’s other choirs?

I think the fact that we accept anyone who wants to join without auditions makes us special. Our focus is always on interacting and having fun, the music just adds to that.

Do you ever sing in African languages?

We always sing in African languages! Our songs come from different regions in central, eastern and southern Africa so we get to sing in a variety of different languages. While it can seem daunting at first the songs are surprisingly easy to pick up, especially when everyone’s singing together.

Where and when do you rehearse?

We rehearse Wednesdays 7–8 and Saturdays 6:30–8 at the music department.

Do you have socials, and if so what events do you hold?

Our socials tend to revolve around food and singing. One memorable social was a pancake social where we ended up serenading the restaurant. We also once silenced the unsuspecting locals on our X1 “social” after a concert. As our focus is on interacting and having fun, most of performances end up feeling like socials anyway, especially when there is food.

Tell us about your past concerts.

We love performing – it’s one of the main things we do. Most of them are very short notice, but they’re always the most fun. We’ve sung at some amazing occasions – for the visiting Archduke of York, or in the Cathedral for the Cathedral Sleepout. We also tend to get fed at our performances, which keeps us happy.

Describe the society in three words

Fun, interactive, social

Why should we join?

I honestly cannot think of such a unique and unusual musical opportunity in Durham. We’re so much fun to get involved in, we get the best performances, and the music we sing is beautiful. What’s to lose?

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