Babatunde Olatunji

If schools would only teach drumming to all the children in their community, they would soon develop a community action plan. They would realize the power of the drum to mobilize people. They will come to know from experiences with drumming that unless you act together, there will be discord. Drums will help our young people develop a unity of purpose. Once they have that, they will be able to develop positive programs of action.

So said Mr Babatunde Olatjnji. I have come across so many wonderful quotes from this father of African Drumming that I could have the whole article just full of them. He absolutely puts into words what drumming is all about and how it should be viewed. To read more about how much InRhythm agrees with Mr Olatjnji and his theory on why drumming should be taught in our schools, read our blog article addressing the importance of school drumming incursions here.

I am the drum, you are the drum, and we are the drum. Because the whole world revolves in rhythm, and rhythm is the soul of life, for everything that we do in life is in rhythm. -- Babatunde Olatunji

When asked if he believes that his drumming heals - here was his answer: 

"Possibly. We are now experiencing and trying to discover how it works. We use our instruments to bring people together. We know that it will always do that. The instruments that we use in Africa are sources of communication. The other aspect of it is that we use it for healing. That's an important aspect of drumming in African music, the polyrhythmic nature. We know that rhythm is the soul of life. Every cell in your body and mine is in constant frequency, in rhythm. Everything that we do is in rhythm. So that music, it attracts, it energizes every cell in our body. We're trying to find the answers of how music can be used to heal. We will come to it somehow, but words are not adequate to describe how you feel, if you are tired or if you feel competitive. But once you start, the adrenaline flows, you become more energetic, you feel something flowing through your whole body. You can't say what it is but it is something powerful. You feel in excess of it.

That's what happens. That aspect of it is what I know that has come to maintain the validity of that. But we know it heals. It heals. So for me personally, it has helped me, healed me through many, many conditions. I know that if it effect me, it effects others. Definitely."

220px Babatunde OlatunjiBorn in 1927 in Nigeria, a small fishing village about forty miles from Lagos, his childhood was filled with singing and drumming. In 1950 he received a Rotary International scholarship to College in Atlanta. Throughout his career, teaching others about African culture and drumming has been the highest priority for Olatunji. In his 1993 instructional video, Babatunde Olatunji: African Drumming (Interworld Music), he explains his famous "gun, go do, pa ta" method of drumming instruction. When asked how he came up with such a logical and systematic way of teaching, Baba naturally deflects the recognition. "I must give credit where credit is due," he says. "It was there all along! It comes from the consonants in the Yoruba language. I didn't invent the system. I just discovered it."

2003: Sad news as Baba passed away in California on April 6th at the age of 76 from diabetes. He will be missed and he will be remembered.


Click on the above picture to see a video of the man himself playing live.

InRhythm runs programs, training and drumming circles all based on the power of rhythm. Through the use of djembe drums, body percussion, chant and various other means we teach, encourage and facilitate people to find their rhythm as an individual and as part of a group. The healing power of rhythm is amazing and empowering. Tap into it today! Contact Us to find out more. 

Read more here:

Read an interview with the man himself here:


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