Drumming for Wold Peace

Dmitry Bulgakov and Dmitry Bulgakov

Every Friday evening, in University Hall, a dozen or so different people — kids, faculty members and students gather to join the Drum Circle for World Peace and together play African drums. The circle sets a goal of transformation through music with a humanitarian purpose to unite people under positive rhythms of drums.

Djisovi Ikukomi Eason, director of Educational Transformation through Cultural Arts (ETCA) and the leader of the group, said that a Drum Circle for World Peace is for individuals to come and be able to sit down and establish peace.

“It is for bringing people together, here you will see people from Asia, from Europe, you will see young people, you can also see senior citizens,” Eason said.

“Drum Circle and music in general is a force for positive change,” Joe Swora, from Partnerships for Community Actions, who also plays in the Drum Circle, said. “Rather than letting people put their energy into something destructive, we can put it into something which can harmonize, which can build, rather than tear out.”

According to Eason, this circle started as a part of the international movement for world peace.

“In 1996, Dr. Babatunde Olatunji –known as an ambassador of African culture, father of African music in the United States, and a visionary leader for peace– had a nationwide Drum Circle for World Peace in Washington D.C.,” he said. “A small number of us from the University went, met Baba and joined him in the Drum Circle and after we returned back to Bowling Green, we began the Drum Circle.”

Since then, the Drum Circle participates in many cultural events on campus and is active in the community.

“After I became a coordinator of Educational Transformation through Cultural Arts, the Drum Circle was supported by ETCA and it has become a part of Bowling Green’s spiritual place for faculty, staff, undergraduates and graduates,” Eason said. “Drum Circle has evolved and has a tremendous influence on a number of Africana-related organizations and cultural manifestations here.” One of the community programs includes working with kids from the east side of Toledo, holding drum workshops and teaching music education.

“We started childrens festival cultural arts, we had a childrens festival, which became prominent here in the University,” Eason said. “The whole idea behind the children’s festival is to bring children together and to look at the traditional cultures around the world. We always have been available for elementary schools, churches and junior high schools.”

Eason started drumming when he attended the Olatunji Center for African Culture between 1974 and 1976 in New York. It helped him to understand African spirituality. That is why he is very excited to note that they were fortunate enough to have Babatunde Olatunji here at Bowling Green twice as a guest performer.

“Our model for teaching is Dr. Babatunde Olatunji,” Eason said. “Baba was saying, ‘If you can talk, you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance; and if you can dance and you can sing, then you can do the same thing on the instrument.’ So it is not difficult — everybody has an ability to play drums.”

Circle attendees enjoy the atmosphere and change of pace. “People just come and sit and play,” Eason said. “We teach basic tone rhythms, to those who are interested. We do basics at the beginning almost every semester, and we have instructional tapes, which people can come and check out.”

Naturally, as their name implies, the circle is opposed to the looming war on Iraq.

“What we do here at the Drum Circle is we take our knowledge and use it to bring about peace,” Eason said. “We cannot make the people in the White House do what this circle does, but here on Friday you have some civil humanitarians who represent a broad spectrum of humanity, who come here and participate in an act of peace.”

That is why the Circle has a piety towards Martin Luther King Jr, an adherent of nonviolence philosophies.

“Bowling Green’s Drum Circle for World Peace has always expressed views of Martin Luther King Jr., who from the civil movements of the 50s to the civil rights movements of the 60s, was always an advocate for human beings, using peaceful means to resolve human discord and to achieve justice for the oppressed,” Eason said.