This afternoon we were busy editing the Ngoma Vuma Afrika website – and added Peter Okeno‘s story on how the group started. Here it is:

“As I walked from where I stayed in the North-West University Potchefstroom Campus I thought of the time when I was wtith Victor Savani in Kenya in the same secondary school. I taught him how to play tumba drums though he was a super isikuti drums player and currently he has his own group touring all over the world and they are famous.

I was also in the same school with George Mutunga. I taught him how to play drums. He also became a very good player and he has combined drumming with gymnastics and acrobatics and he is doing very well touring all over the world with his group.

The question came to my mind : What about starting a percussion group?

I recalled the moments when I appeared in Potchefstroom with the help of Prof. Jacques van der Elst in 2002, I had a concert titled Kenyan rhythms with colleagues whom I taught at the music school in the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus and it was successful.

I remembered the moments when I was David Nkosi’s drumming guru and when we played together and won many trophies in the talent festival.

I then laughed knowing that to some it will sound very weird to start a percussion group and have songs to produce or even have a captivating and entertaining performance. I imagined how people will perceive it but I was happy since I knew my vision and how to accomplish it.

I thanked God and decided to go and talk to Horst Butow about it. By then I had reached the Law faculty which is not far from Horst Butow’s office. I booked an appointment to see him.

On the day of the appointment, I was excited. I shared my vision with him. Having a lot of experience in arts and culture as a lecturer, manager, assessor, advisor and a producer – he looked at it in all angles, asked many questions which was a brain opener. He then advised that we have a small group from the Serenaders Choir, try it out and see its viability on the tour to Germany.

We went and purchased some percussion instruments including the djembe drums.I started training members from Serenaders Choir though it was a very frustrating endeavour since to many, it was strange but I pushed forward. I managed to teach a few songs and how to play some percussion instruments. It was difficult to find committed members on campus.

The group was ready by the time we went to Germany.

After several performances in Germany, Horst Butow called me and we had a very long discussion in the boat. The discussion was about the official start of a percussion group.

Coming back to South Africa Ngoma Afrika was born and it is still in existence as Ngoma Vuma Afrika.”

So this is how you start a percussion band – you have the story, all you have to do is : follow Peter’s example and start your own.

Click here to visit the groups site.