MOULTRIE, Ga. – Cox Elementary School students and staff were entertained Friday, Sept. 6, as the world famous musician, Babara Bangoura, performed and shared stories about the use and meaning of music in his culture. Students were able to ask questions of Bangoura following his performance and many were interested to know how he became so skilled at playing.
At a very young age, Bangoura, who is originally from Guinea (a country on the coast of West Africa), toured the world with Les Africain Ballet, a world famous performance group. Unlike the European-style ballet that Americans are familiar with, Les Africain Ballet’s purpose is to promote traditional African music, dance, story-telling and culture. The group has performed on Broadway in the U.S. numerous times and similar venues across the globe.
Bangoura now travels all over Europe teaching the art of the djembe (a traditional West African hand drum made from a hand-carved wooden shell, rope, and animal skin) and other percussion instruments, such as the dununs.
He is known as a “djembefola,” meaning “one who makes the djembe speak,” according to a press release from Colquitt County Schools, and he is dedicated to spreading the message “music has no boundaries and skin color is not an obstacle for meeting other cultures.”
Every few years, he travels to the U.S. for a teaching tour, the school system said. His 2019 U.S. Teaching Tour runs from July to September and includes major cities like San Diego, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Santa Cruz, Phoenix, and Atlanta.
“We were extremely blessed to bring him to one of our schools in Colquitt County,” says Tabathia Baldy, director of response to intervention and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for Colquitt County Schools.
The school district is beginning to implement a therapeutic drumming program at Cox Elementary, Norman Park Elementary, and Willie J. Williams Middle School as part of the multi-tiered system of supports offered to students.
“If these programs are successful, we hope to expand to other schools in the future,” says Baldy.
Students and teachers from the Norman Park and Williams programs also attended the performance and were able to meet and take pictures with Bangoura. Some students (and teachers) even requested his autograph. Bangoura spent the afternoon in an intensive teaching session with the therapeutic drumming instructors from all three schools.