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One World Beat News

SOUTH AFRICA: "20,000 Drums" Sets Off Spirited Rhythm for OWB Event

On the weekend of March 18th, in the Soweto-Johannesburg area of South Africa, the visionary nonprofit organization "20,000 Drums: Transformation Through Celebration" ( will be holding a major drumming event, one of many it intends to host in the near future, leading up to a 20,000-drum spectacular it is working to create, the largest single drumming event in history.It is hoped that this activity and event will have ripple effects--of healing, joy, unity, peace, love, freedom--throughout communities, nations, and the world.

Samantha Skyring, creator and director of the project, is thrilled to have made connections with One World Beat this year, and just in the nick of time for us to coordinate the separate drumming events we both have planned for this third weekend of March. "It's awesome to be in touch with you...I love what you are doing and love meeting fellow friends using drumming to create global peace...thanks for connecting me to this global drumming circle...we will be setting off a rhythm a few hours in advance of your own, so it will reach you in spirit by the time yours starts!".

In South Africa on March 18th, a drumming circle of 450 people--who have gathered monthly for the past four years--will be playing and dancing around a large bonfire into the early hours of March 19th (our "Drumming in One World Beat" officially begins at 5pm EST-USA on the 19th). Andries Bruyns heads this circle, known as "Klitsgras" (see more about them at ). A drum teacher, Vaughan Harris, has organized a "Heartsong" gathering--composed of two groups of 30 people each--who will be drumming on the afternoon of Saturday, March 19th.

Samantha herself, who works with 2500 South African children in five rural schools, will be drumming with 500 youth on Friday, March 18th. During this event some of the young people taking part will be chosen to act as drumming facilitators for the school-based program the organization has developed, helping to keep these traditions alive. A senior person from the National Department of Arts and Culture is coming to participate and assess the experience of the children and the joy, empowerment, and social cohesion that drumming allows. This may provide a way forward for the "20,000 Drums" program, and Samantha adds: "I'm sure she will be very interested to hear what's happening the following day around the world!".

The "20,000 Drums" project is an organization which is conceiving an "event" and also has a drumming and poetry program for schools and youth in South Africa. The "vision" includes introducing drums and drumming to some 18,000+ schoolchildren in South Africa, over a 5-month period, culminating in an event which will gather them into a stadium on one day, so that they can all drum to one beat, and in one rhythm. Residents of Johannesburg are also going to be included, bringing the total to 20,000+ individuals.

Poetry is an essential element of this project, because it provides a platform for dealing with emotional issues, and is being included in the school program. Drumming too provides an emotional grounding and healing, and is a proven stress reducer, things these children need to support and encourage them while they meet the daily challenges of their lives.

The goals of the project are many: to forge bonds and create unity; to do an activity which is easy and universally available; to support the African tradition of drumming for celebration, healing, meditation, and transformation; to help children; to enhance community development, personal empowerment, skills transfer, and job creation. The program concentrates on disadvantaged individuals and communities. Phase One of the project--"Transformation Through Celebration"--has already begun: drumming facilitators from a community group called SOMOHO (Soweto Mountains of Hope) are working in schools. Phase Two will be the development of the event itself.

This project empowers learners and educators through workshops teaching drumming, poetry, and values such as creativity and teamwork. In addition to donating the necessary drums to each school, it further ensure the project's sustainability by selecting learners and educators to attend facilitation and leadership training courses. They supervise the application of their newly learned skills for a short period. Where possible, they also set up structures within the community, which will encourage broader participation.

One delightful aspect of this project is the opportunity to sponsor one or more children (for only $10 each) to be part of the transformation in their lives ( This is music making a difference on a massive scale, and we are greatly excited by their work, as well as being honored by the opportunity to link with "20,000 Drums"--the organization and the instruments!--both in spirit and in direct joint actions for global unity, peace, understanding, and healing.




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"You guys Rock."
Leigh Blake, Founder - Keep A Child Alive
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Leigh Blake, Founder - Keep A Child Alive