DRUMS AND POWER: HOW AFRICAN AMERICANS CREOLIZED TRADITIONAL AFRICAN MUSIC

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by Isaiah, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    http://way.net/creole/drumsandpower.html

    Drums and Power

    Europeans were aware from the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade that drums were powerful tools of state among many West African peoples, but could not quite comprehend how this was so. English planters in the West Indies early associated African drum and horn music with slave resistance, but the prevalence of these laws indicates that Europeans were resisting and accommodating West African practices as well. In 1688, Hans Sloane, the physician to the governor of Jamaica, observed that slaves on the island "formerly on their Festivals were allowed the use of Trumpets after their Fashion, and Drums. . . . But making use of these in their Wars at home in Africa, it was thought too much inciting them to Rebellion, and so they were prohibited by the Customs of the Island." Barbados followed suit in 1699, banning drums, horns or "any other loud instruments." Masters were to conduct weekly searches of slave quarters, and any of the named instruments found were to be burned under threat of a fine. In 1711, and again in 1722, St. Kitts passed laws which banned the slaves "from communicating at a distance by beating drums or blowing horns." In 1717, Jamaica codified its earlier policy forbidding "the gathering of slaves by the beating of drums and blowing of horns."(16)

    Planters passed laws against drums and drumming several times, and in various forms, indicating that their control was less than absolute. European fears were straightforward. They feared drums as loud signals that could lead men on a battlefield so they banned loud instruments, ignoring quieter ones in their laws. They understood the ways of military and state drumming which they shared with Africans, but they failed to comprehend how African Americans were able to represent themselves and their agendas in their music rather than just signal with it.

    One particular type of West African court music -- that radiating from a Kwa ethnic base centered in the region from Eastern Nigeria to Modern Ghana -- was more than a set of signals. It functioned as an immanent and immediate means of representing and communicating ideas in a repeatable form, somewhat like a spoken language. Most Kwa languages are tonal; that is, words can be differentiated on the basis of pitch change. Kwa drummers, able to rely in part on pitch patterns, could produce musical representations akin to a language rather than being a fixed corpus of signals. On the other hand, Mende and West Atlantic languages found to the north of the Kwa regions, as well as Central African languages to the south, are often tonal, but not "tonemic," that is, words cannot be distinguished on the basis of pitch, but pitch still forms an aspect of correct pronunciation

    The early accommodation to Africans' drumming in South Carolina was an uneasy tolerance, though. The planters feared it. In 1730, according a Charleston planter, a group of slaves "conspired to Rise and destroy us" at a dance which featured drumming. The alleged revolt was found out and quelled before the slaves were able issue a call to arms, however. A newspaper article from 1736 reported a foiled uprising in Antigua which involved "Coromantee" (Western Kwa) and colony-born factions of slaves. The Coromantee leader announced his intention to stage an uprising "in open Day-light, by a Military Dance and Show, of which the Whites and even the Slaves (who were not Coromantees nor let into the Secret) might be Spectators, and yet ignorant of the Meaning." The "meaning" was delivered by "Drums beating the Ikem Beat." This plan was also found out, and many slave executions ensued.(19)

    Rather than banning drums, however, South Carolina and Georgia rice planters simply did not purchase many Kwa males who -- being preferred in the wealthier and more established sugar colonies -- were scarcely available in the low country anyway. Mende/West Atlantic and Central African slaves were both preferred and available before 1740. Owners constantly sought out about fifteen to twenty percent of their slaves from the more northerly Windward Coast of the Mende region, where rice was grown as a staple. Certain ethnicities from this area were thought to be more suitable candidates for skilled trades and household duties as well. For field work, slaves from the Kongo/Angola coastal region and its hinterlands were favored. About forty percent all South Carolina slaves were from this region during the years preceding 1740.(20)

    A notice in a South Carolina Gazette from 1733 demonstrates one way that African Americans creolized Kongo/Angolan culture in the Americas under the constraints of slavery. The notice offered a £10 reward for the return of Thomas Butler, who had run away from the Vander Dussen plantation upriver from Charleston. Thomas was known in the area as "the famous Pushing and Dancing Master." For an owner, especially one as intolerant as Vander Dussen seems to have been, to refer to a slave as "master" seems ironic and unusual.(21) It is doubtful that Butler was the master of any dancing skill of which his owner also partook. Nor is it probable that planters sent their children or slaves to such a master to learn dancing--especially not a style which included "Pushing" as a major feature. This was not ballroom dancing. Butler was, however, not only a master of "Pushing and Dancing," he was "famous" for it.

    Butler's skill was most likely not of his own invention. John Storm Roberts discusses the mid-nineteenth century popularity Brazilian form of musical martial art called capoeira de Angola, which was practiced by young men, often from Central Africa. The art could best be described in two words as pushing and dancing. Capoeira uses musical bows, which are percussive string instruments, to set a tempo which disciplines the movements of two dancers who combat each other in a highly ritualized and graceful manner. The musical bow is a much quieter instrument than a drum and can be quickly made from a flexible green tree limb, a length of string or cord, a small stone, a gourd and a striking stick (see fig. I).(22) The sound is percussive rather than melodic. Perhaps the roots of this pushing and dancing martial art lay in trying to keep traditional combat skills honed with no weapons available and drums proscribed. Such intensely purposeful dancing, performed by a master, would surely bring about the attention of planters, but not necessarily their comprehension of what the dance was representing.

    Angolan and Kongolese warriors in Africa also had a form of "Pushing and Dancing." Hand-to-hand combat was still a viable military skill in the early eighteenth century, though finally being superannuated by firearms -- for which, noted the feared warrior Queen Njinga, "there was no remedy." Kongolese and Angolan techniques of unarmed combat were learned in the form of a martial art set in time to drum music. In short, the skills were encoded in a form of dance. Not all soldiers learned these techniques. Specialists, called imbare (singular kimbare or quimbare) and often drawn from slave populations, were recruited to learn the art. According to John Thornton, this specialized form of dance, called sanga in the Kikongo language, and sanguar in Ndongo, valued hand-to-hand combat skills, the use of sticks and other weapons, as well as "the ability to twist, leap, and dodge to avoid arrows or the blows of opponents." The skills, which brought renown to the imbare, were displayed at public exhibitions which impressed not only Africans, but Portuguese, Italian and Dutch observers as well. Thornton notes how a Kongolese state delegation in Brazil amazed observers there with an exhibition of leaping and fighting skills in 1642.(23)

    By the eighteenth century, Central African armies had developed mass-mobilization infantry tactics as a result of a century of civil war. The importance of sanga as a military form was waning. The Americas, however, were rife with evidence of its retention. It may often have been more important as a ritual than as a military tactic, but it may have yet had its uses in the latter arena. Ritualized stick fighting and dancing like that found in Central Africa persisted all over the "new world." One of these dances, called kalinda, was a highlight of Caribbean slave festivals, although viewed ambivalently by planters. Brazilian slaves may have kept their unarmed combat skills honed in capoeira. A related martial art/dance form, maculelê, existed alongside capoeira in Bahia. In it, two dancers used sticks called grimas as musical instruments and as weapons against each other, both at the same time: to miss a beat was to receive a blow. In Cuba, the Kongolese tradition of music and dance was also closely associated with military traditions. In the United States there is a tradition of "knocking and kicking." Thompson's observations about baton twirling take on wider significance here in the realm of cultural ways (as opposed to his focus on concrete expressions), for as a relative of kalinda and rara, baton-twirling ca be situated as a part of this complex system of musical, social, religious, and military ways.(24)

    The early accommodation to Africans' drumming in South Carolina was an uneasy tolerance, though. The planters feared it. In 1730, according a Charleston planter, a group of slaves "conspired to Rise and destroy us" at a dance which featured drumming. The alleged revolt was found out and quelled before the slaves were able issue a call to arms, however. A newspaper article from 1736 reported a foiled uprising in Antigua which involved "Coromantee" (Western Kwa) and colony-born factions of slaves. The Coromantee leader announced his intention to stage an uprising "in open Day-light, by a Military Dance and Show, of which the Whites and even the Slaves (who were not Coromantees nor let into the Secret) might be Spectators, and yet ignorant of the Meaning." The "meaning" was delivered by "Drums beating the Ikem Beat." This plan was also found out, and many slave executions ensued.(19)

    Rather than banning drums, however, South Carolina and Georgia rice planters simply did not purchase many Kwa males who -- being preferred in the wealthier and more established sugar colonies -- were scarcely available in the low country anyway. Mende/West Atlantic and Central African slaves were both preferred and available before 1740. Owners constantly sought out about fifteen to twenty percent of their slaves from the more northerly Windward Coast of the Mende region, where rice was grown as a staple. Certain ethnicities from this area were thought to be more suitable candidates for skilled trades and household duties as well. For field work, slaves from the Kongo/Angola coastal region and its hinterlands were favored. About forty percent all South Carolina slaves were from this region during the years preceding 1740.(20)

    A notice in a South Carolina Gazette from 1733 demonstrates one way that African Americans creolized Kongo/Angolan culture in the Americas under the constraints of slavery. The notice offered a £10 reward for the return of Thomas Butler, who had run away from the Vander Dussen plantation upriver from Charleston. Thomas was known in the area as "the famous Pushing and Dancing Master." For an owner, especially one as intolerant as Vander Dussen seems to have been, to refer to a slave as "master" seems ironic and unusual.(21) It is doubtful that Butler was the master of any dancing skill of which his owner also partook. Nor is it probable that planters sent their children or slaves to such a master to learn dancing--especially not a style which included "Pushing" as a major feature. This was not ballroom dancing. Butler was, however, not only a master of "Pushing and Dancing," he was "famous" for it.

    Butler's skill was most likely not of his own invention. John Storm Roberts discusses the mid-nineteenth century popularity Brazilian form of musical martial art called capoeira de Angola, which was practiced by young men, often from Central Africa. The art could best be described in two words as pushing and dancing. Capoeira uses musical bows, which are percussive string instruments, to set a tempo which disciplines the movements of two dancers who combat each other in a highly ritualized and graceful manner. The musical bow is a much quieter instrument than a drum and can be quickly made from a flexible green tree limb, a length of string or cord, a small stone, a gourd and a striking stick (see fig. I).(22) The sound is percussive rather than melodic. Perhaps the roots of this pushing and dancing martial art lay in trying to keep traditional combat skills honed with no weapons available and drums proscribed. Such intensely purposeful dancing, performed by a master, would surely bring about the attention of planters, but not necessarily their comprehension of what the dance was representing.

    Angolan and Kongolese warriors in Africa also had a form of "Pushing and Dancing." Hand-to-hand combat was still a viable military skill in the early eighteenth century, though finally being superannuated by firearms -- for which, noted the feared warrior Queen Njinga, "there was no remedy." Kongolese and Angolan techniques of unarmed combat were learned in the form of a martial art set in time to drum music. In short, the skills were encoded in a form of dance. Not all soldiers learned these techniques. Specialists, called imbare (singular kimbare or quimbare) and often drawn from slave populations, were recruited to learn the art. According to John Thornton, this specialized form of dance, called sanga in the Kikongo language, and sanguar in Ndongo, valued hand-to-hand combat skills, the use of sticks and other weapons, as well as "the ability to twist, leap, and dodge to avoid arrows or the blows of opponents." The skills, which brought renown to the imbare, were displayed at public exhibitions which impressed not only Africans, but Portuguese, Italian and Dutch observers as well. Thornton notes how a Kongolese state delegation in Brazil amazed observers there with an exhibition of leaping and fighting skills in 1642.(23)

    By the eighteenth century, Central African armies had developed mass-mobilization infantry tactics as a result of a century of civil war. The importance of sanga as a military form was waning. The Americas, however, were rife with evidence of its retention. It may often have been more important as a ritual than as a military tactic, but it may have yet had its uses in the latter arena. Ritualized stick fighting and dancing like that found in Central Africa persisted all over the "new world." One of these dances, called kalinda, was a highlight of Caribbean slave festivals, although viewed ambivalently by planters. Brazilian slaves may have kept their unarmed combat skills honed in capoeira. A related martial art/dance form, maculelê, existed alongside capoeira in Bahia. In it, two dancers used sticks called grimas as musical instruments and as weapons against each other, both at the same time: to miss a beat was to receive a blow. In Cuba, the Kongolese tradition of music and dance was also closely associated with military traditions. In the United States there is a tradition of "knocking and kicking." Thompson's observations about baton twirling take on wider significance here in the realm of cultural ways (as opposed to his focus on concrete expressions), for as a relative of kalinda and rara, baton-twirling ca be situated as a part of this complex system of musical, social, religious, and military ways.(24)

    In The early accommodation to Africans' drumming in South Carolina was an uneasy tolerance, though. The planters feared it. In 1730, according a Charleston planter, a group of slaves "conspired to Rise and destroy us" at a dance which featured drumming. The alleged revolt was found out and quelled before the slaves were able issue a call to arms, however. A newspaper article from 1736 reported a foiled uprising in Antigua which involved "Coromantee" (Western Kwa) and colony-born factions of slaves. The Coromantee leader announced his intention to stage an uprising "in open Day-light, by a Military Dance and Show, of which the Whites and even the Slaves (who were not Coromantees nor let into the Secret) might be Spectators, and yet ignorant of the Meaning." The "meaning" was delivered by "Drums beating the Ikem Beat." This plan was also found out, and many slave executions ensued.(19)

    Rather than banning drums, however, South Carolina and Georgia rice planters simply did not purchase many Kwa males who -- being preferred in the wealthier and more established sugar colonies -- were scarcely available in the low country anyway. Mende/West Atlantic and Central African slaves were both preferred and available before 1740. Owners constantly sought out about fifteen to twenty percent of their slaves from the more northerly Windward Coast of the Mende region, where rice was grown as a staple. Certain ethnicities from this area were thought to be more suitable candidates for skilled trades and household duties as well. For field work, slaves from the Kongo/Angola coastal region and its hinterlands were favored. About forty percent all South Carolina slaves were from this region during the years preceding 1740.(20)

    A notice in a South Carolina Gazette from 1733 demonstrates one way that African Americans creolized Kongo/Angolan culture in the Americas under the constraints of slavery. The notice offered a £10 reward for the return of Thomas Butler, who had run away from the Vander Dussen plantation upriver from Charleston. Thomas was known in the area as "the famous Pushing and Dancing Master." For an owner, especially one as intolerant as Vander Dussen seems to have been, to refer to a slave as "master" seems ironic and unusual.(21) It is doubtful that Butler was the master of any dancing skill of which his owner also partook. Nor is it probable that planters sent their children or slaves to such a master to learn dancing--especially not a style which included "Pushing" as a major feature. This was not ballroom dancing. Butler was, however, not only a master of "Pushing and Dancing," he was "famous" for it.

    Butler's skill was most likely not of his own invention. John Storm Roberts discusses the mid-nineteenth century popularity Brazilian form of musical martial art called capoeira de Angola, which was practiced by young men, often from Central Africa. The art could best be described in two words as pushing and dancing. Capoeira uses musical bows, which are percussive string instruments, to set a tempo which disciplines the movements of two dancers who combat each other in a highly ritualized and graceful manner. The musical bow is a much quieter instrument than a drum and can be quickly made from a flexible green tree limb, a length of string or cord, a small stone, a gourd and a striking stick (see fig. I).(22) The sound is percussive rather than melodic. Perhaps the roots of this pushing and dancing martial art lay in trying to keep traditional combat skills honed with no weapons available and drums proscribed. Such intensely purposeful dancing, performed by a master, would surely bring about the attention of planters, but not necessarily their comprehension of what the dance was representing.

    Angolan and Kongolese warriors in Africa also had a form of "Pushing and Dancing." Hand-to-hand combat was still a viable military skill in the early eighteenth century, though finally being superannuated by firearms -- for which, noted the feared warrior Queen Njinga, "there was no remedy." Kongolese and Angolan techniques of unarmed combat were learned in the form of a martial art set in time to drum music. In short, the skills were encoded in a form of dance. Not all soldiers learned these techniques. Specialists, called imbare (singular kimbare or quimbare) and often drawn from slave populations, were recruited to learn the art. According to John Thornton, this specialized form of dance, called sanga in the Kikongo language, and sanguar in Ndongo, valued hand-to-hand combat skills, the use of sticks and other weapons, as well as "the ability to twist, leap, and dodge to avoid arrows or the blows of opponents." The skills, which brought renown to the imbare, were displayed at public exhibitions which impressed not only Africans, but Portuguese, Italian and Dutch observers as well. Thornton notes how a Kongolese state delegation in Brazil amazed observers there with an exhibition of leaping and fighting skills in 1642.(23)

    By the eighteenth century, Central African armies had developed mass-mobilization infantry tactics as a result of a century of civil war. The importance of sanga as a military form was waning. The Americas, however, were rife with evidence of its retention. It may often have been more important as a ritual than as a military tactic, but it may have yet had its uses in the latter arena. Ritualized stick fighting and dancing like that found in Central Africa persisted all over the "new world." One of these dances, called kalinda, was a highlight of Caribbean slave festivals, although viewed ambivalently by planters. Brazilian slaves may have kept their unarmed combat skills honed in capoeira. A related martial art/dance form, maculelê, existed alongside capoeira in Bahia. In it, two dancers used sticks called grimas as musical instruments and as weapons against each other, both at the same time: to miss a beat was to receive a blow. In Cuba, the Kongolese tradition of music and dance was also closely associated with military traditions. In the United States there is a tradition of "knocking and kicking." Thompson's observations about baton twirling take on wider significance here in the realm of cultural ways (as opposed to his focus on concrete expressions), for as a relative of kalinda and rara, baton-twirling ca be situated as a part of this complex system of musical, social, religious, and military ways.(24)
    The early accommodation to Africans' drumming in South Carolina was an uneasy tolerance, though. The planters feared it. In 1730, according a Charleston planter, a group of slaves "conspired to Rise and destroy us" at a dance which featured drumming. The alleged revolt was found out and quelled before the slaves were able issue a call to arms, however. A newspaper article from 1736 reported a foiled uprising in Antigua which involved "Coromantee" (Western Kwa) and colony-born factions of slaves. The Coromantee leader announced his intention to stage an uprising "in open Day-light, by a Military Dance and Show, of which the Whites and even the Slaves (who were not Coromantees nor let into the Secret) might be Spectators, and yet ignorant of the Meaning." The "meaning" was delivered by "Drums beating the Ikem Beat." This plan was also found out, and many slave executions ensued.(19)

    Rather than banning drums, however, South Carolina and Georgia rice planters simply did not purchase many Kwa males who -- being preferred in the wealthier and more established sugar colonies -- were scarcely available in the low country anyway. Mende/West Atlantic and Central African slaves were both preferred and available before 1740. Owners constantly sought out about fifteen to twenty percent of their slaves from the more northerly Windward Coast of the Mende region, where rice was grown as a staple. Certain ethnicities from this area were thought to be more suitable candidates for skilled trades and household duties as well. For field work, slaves from the Kongo/Angola coastal region and its hinterlands were favored. About forty percent all South Carolina slaves were from this region during the years preceding 1740.(20)

    A notice in a South Carolina Gazette from 1733 demonstrates one way that African Americans creolized Kongo/Angolan culture in the Americas under the constraints of slavery. The notice offered a £10 reward for the return of Thomas Butler, who had run away from the Vander Dussen plantation upriver from Charleston. Thomas was known in the area as "the famous Pushing and Dancing Master." For an owner, especially one as intolerant as Vander Dussen seems to have been, to refer to a slave as "master" seems ironic and unusual.(21) It is doubtful that Butler was the master of any dancing skill of which his owner also partook. Nor is it probable that planters sent their children or slaves to such a master to learn dancing--especially not a style which included "Pushing" as a major feature. This was not ballroom dancing. Butler was, however, not only a master of "Pushing and Dancing," he was "famous" for it.

    Butler's skill was most likely not of his own invention. John Storm Roberts discusses the mid-nineteenth century popularity Brazilian form of musical martial art called capoeira de Angola, which was practiced by young men, often from Central Africa. The art could best be described in two words as pushing and dancing. Capoeira uses musical bows, which are percussive string instruments, to set a tempo which disciplines the movements of two dancers who combat each other in a highly ritualized and graceful manner. The musical bow is a much quieter instrument than a drum and can be quickly made from a flexible green tree limb, a length of string or cord, a small stone, a gourd and a striking stick (see fig. I).(22) The sound is percussive rather than melodic. Perhaps the roots of this pushing and dancing martial art lay in trying to keep traditional combat skills honed with no weapons available and drums proscribed. Such intensely purposeful dancing, performed by a master, would surely bring about the attention of planters, but not necessarily their comprehension of what the dance was representing.

    Angolan and Kongolese warriors in Africa also had a form of "Pushing and Dancing." Hand-to-hand combat was still a viable military skill in the early eighteenth century, though finally being superannuated by firearms -- for which, noted the feared warrior Queen Njinga, "there was no remedy." Kongolese and Angolan techniques of unarmed combat were learned in the form of a martial art set in time to drum music. In short, the skills were encoded in a form of dance. Not all soldiers learned these techniques. Specialists, called imbare (singular kimbare or quimbare) and often drawn from slave populations, were recruited to learn the art. According to John Thornton, this specialized form of dance, called sanga in the Kikongo language, and sanguar in Ndongo, valued hand-to-hand combat skills, the use of sticks and other weapons, as well as "the ability to twist, leap, and dodge to avoid arrows or the blows of opponents." The skills, which brought renown to the imbare, were displayed at public exhibitions which impressed not only Africans, but Portuguese, Italian and Dutch observers as well. Thornton notes how a Kongolese state delegation in Brazil amazed observers there with an exhibition of leaping and fighting skills in 1642.(23)

    By the eighteenth century, Central African armies had developed mass-mobilization infantry tactics as a result of a century of civil war. The importance of sanga as a military form was waning. The Americas, however, were rife with evidence of its retention. It may often have been more important as a ritual than as a military tactic, but it may have yet had its uses in the latter arena. Ritualized stick fighting and dancing like that found in Central Africa persisted all over the "new world." One of these dances, called kalinda, was a highlight of Caribbean slave festivals, although viewed ambivalently by planters. Brazilian slaves may have kept their unarmed combat skills honed in capoeira. A related martial art/dance form, maculelê, existed alongside capoeira in Bahia. In it, two dancers used sticks called grimas as musical instruments and as weapons against each other, both at the same time: to miss a beat was to receive a blow. In Cuba, the Kongolese tradition of music and dance was also closely associated with military traditions. In the United States there is a tradition of "knocking and kicking." Thompson's observations about baton twirling take on wider significance here in the realm of cultural ways (as opposed to his focus on concrete expressions), for as a relative of kalinda and rara, baton-twirling ca be situated as a part of this complex system of musical, social, religious, and military ways.(24)


    The early accommodation to Africans' drumming in South Carolina was an uneasy tolerance, though. The planters feared it. In 1730, according a Charleston planter, a group of slaves "conspired to Rise and destroy us" at a dance which featured drumming. The alleged revolt was found out and quelled before the slaves were able issue a call to arms, however. A newspaper article from 1736 reported a foiled uprising in Antigua which involved "Coromantee" (Western Kwa) and colony-born factions of slaves. The Coromantee leader announced his intention to stage an uprising "in open Day-light, by a Military Dance and Show, of which the Whites and even the Slaves (who were not Coromantees nor let into the Secret) might be Spectators, and yet ignorant of the Meaning." The "meaning" was delivered by "Drums beating the Ikem Beat." This plan was also found out, and many slave executions ensued.(19)

    Rather than banning drums, however, South Carolina and Georgia rice planters simply did not purchase many Kwa males who -- being preferred in the wealthier and more established sugar colonies -- were scarcely available in the low country anyway. Mende/West Atlantic and Central African slaves were both preferred and available before 1740. Owners constantly sought out about fifteen to twenty percent of their slaves from the more northerly Windward Coast of the Mende region, where rice was grown as a staple. Certain ethnicities from this area were thought to be more suitable candidates for skilled trades and household duties as well. For field work, slaves from the Kongo/Angola coastal region and its hinterlands were favored. About forty percent all South Carolina slaves were from this region during the years preceding 1740.(20)

    A notice in a South Carolina Gazette from 1733 demonstrates one way that African Americans creolized Kongo/Angolan culture in the Americas under the constraints of slavery. The notice offered a £10 reward for the return of Thomas Butler, who had run away from the Vander Dussen plantation upriver from Charleston. Thomas was known in the area as "the famous Pushing and Dancing Master." For an owner, especially one as intolerant as Vander Dussen seems to have been, to refer to a slave as "master" seems ironic and unusual.(21) It is doubtful that Butler was the master of any dancing skill of which his owner also partook. Nor is it probable that planters sent their children or slaves to such a master to learn dancing--especially not a style which included "Pushing" as a major feature. This was not ballroom dancing. Butler was, however, not only a master of "Pushing and Dancing," he was "famous" for it.

    Butler's skill was most likely not of his own invention. John Storm Roberts discusses the mid-nineteenth century popularity Brazilian form of musical martial art called capoeira de Angola, which was practiced by young men, often from Central Africa. The art could best be described in two words as pushing and dancing. Capoeira uses musical bows, which are percussive string instruments, to set a tempo which disciplines the movements of two dancers who combat each other in a highly ritualized and graceful manner. The musical bow is a much quieter instrument than a drum and can be quickly made from a flexible green tree limb, a length of string or cord, a small stone, a gourd and a striking stick (see fig. I).(22) The sound is percussive rather than melodic. Perhaps the roots of this pushing and dancing martial art lay in trying to keep traditional combat skills honed with no weapons available and drums proscribed. Such intensely purposeful dancing, performed by a master, would surely bring about the attention of planters, but not necessarily their comprehension of what the dance was representing.

    Angolan and Kongolese warriors in Africa also had a form of "Pushing and Dancing." Hand-to-hand combat was still a viable military skill in the early eighteenth century, though finally being superannuated by firearms -- for which, noted the feared warrior Queen Njinga, "there was no remedy." Kongolese and Angolan techniques of unarmed combat were learned in the form of a martial art set in time to drum music. In short, the skills were encoded in a form of dance. Not all soldiers learned these techniques. Specialists, called imbare (singular kimbare or quimbare) and often drawn from slave populations, were recruited to learn the art. According to John Thornton, this specialized form of dance, called sanga in the Kikongo language, and sanguar in Ndongo, valued hand-to-hand combat skills, the use of sticks and other weapons, as well as "the ability to twist, leap, and dodge to avoid arrows or the blows of opponents." The skills, which brought renown to the imbare, were displayed at public exhibitions which impressed not only Africans, but Portuguese, Italian and Dutch observers as well. Thornton notes how a Kongolese state delegation in Brazil amazed observers there with an exhibition of leaping and fighting skills in 1642.(23)

    By the eighteenth century, Central African armies had developed mass-mobilization infantry tactics as a result of a century of civil war. The importance of sanga as a military form was waning. The Americas, however, were rife with evidence of its retention. It may often have been more important as a ritual than as a military tactic, but it may have yet had its uses in the latter arena. Ritualized stick fighting and dancing like that found in Central Africa persisted all over the "new world." One of these dances, called kalinda, was a highlight of Caribbean slave festivals, although viewed ambivalently by planters. Brazilian slaves may have kept their unarmed combat skills honed in capoeira. A related martial art/dance form, maculelê, existed alongside capoeira in Bahia. In it, two dancers used sticks called grimas as musical instruments and as weapons against each other, both at the same time: to miss a beat was to receive a blow. In Cuba, the Kongolese tradition of music and dance was also closely associated with military traditions. In the United States there is a tradition of "knocking and kicking." Thompson's observations about baton twirling take on wider significance here in the realm of cultural ways (as opposed to his focus on concrete expressions), for as a relative of kalinda and rara, baton-twirling ca be situated as a part of this complex system of musical, social, religious, and military ways.(24)


    This is just an excerpt of a very long paper... Go to the actual site for the entire piece... I think all who do will find it instructional and enlightening...

    Peace!
    isaiah
     
  2. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I know the article is long, but to read it is to be given an understanding of the great power of the DRUM in our culture, and the White Man's understanding of that power in ways which we still do not... Beleive me, it is an eye-opener, particularly the insights on how our people got here, and the places from which they came...

    Does anyone know or care that, yes, there were among our ancestors, those who practiced African Stick Fighting, or what is called CAPOEIRA in Brazil??? Read the article, because it will open your eyes to that fact...



    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  3. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Here are two links in repsonse to your query brotha

    http://destee.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38465

    http://www.africanmartialarts.8m.com/
     
  4. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Aw, Brother Sekhemu, I know that YOU, good brother are all on point as regards this information - and I read those pages you presented a long time ago... Perhaps, they need to be revisited by us from time to time, because folks are all up in that OPEN FORUM with all the juicy who got pms stuff, and info of the kind you posted back when, well...(smile!)

    BTW, Happy EARTH Day/BirthDAy to you, my brother!(smile!)



    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  5. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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  6. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Da*n skippy :)

    Yea, I see that.

    Thank you brotha.
     
  7. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Not "a tonal" but "tonemic". Interesting.
     
  8. Desert Storm

    Desert Storm Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Drums are a powerful call and response. It is the response that the European Colonist didn't want. Hee,hee,hee. Yep, scared but still gettin da booty at the same time?... hee,hee,hee... I have a sarcastic side, however it's only to get my point across. And Oh, they loved it. Secretly they loved it. Instead of hatin they should have been participating, if they didn't want to blow their covers they should have joined us if they couldn't beat us. hee,hee,hee... anyways, at that we wouldn't have suspected anything else and would have had a good ole fiesta but noooo, they had to outwardly put the stops but secretly envy us, couldn't get enough us.

    See black ppl are out in the open. You wanna solve a problem get it out in the open. Whites on the other hand will make u jump through the hoops and then sit their and analyze and try to find some deeper meaning behind it and scrutinize and scrutinize. If they were out in the open in the first place so much could have been avoided in the first place. But that just shows they didn't know what they were doing in the first place even though they were trying to act all smart and stuff. But now they wanna "DANCE WITH THE STARS" and they could've started early and gotten lessons for free.
    Hee,hee,hee....I guess I'll just have to laugh by myself..hee hee...:SuN049:
    :SuN049: :SuN049: :SuN049: :SuN049:

    Peace

    See ya lata,

    Desert Storm
     
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