In Africa, rhythm is an important feature of daily life. It is also experienced as an expression of the elemental energies of the worlds of nature and spirit. West Africans of the Malinke culture and their predecessors have played specific rhythms for thousands of years to accompany, underscore, and perpetuate various aspects of life.
Music is often used in ceremonies and celebrations, wherein musical pieces are danced and played with drums and other instruments. These occasions mark the progression of people’s lives from birth to death and instances in between, such as initiations and rites of passage for youth, warriors, numerous guilds, and societal sub-groups.
In the above video, Xavier plays the ceremonial rhythm for the Moribayassa, a sacred rite of passage for West African women who have endured and emerged from a challenging circumstance or life storm, such as infertility or grave illness. The women dance in celebration and deep gratitude to their deity, Moriba Yassa. Through ritualized power of drumming and ceremonial theater, these dancers harness rhythm, vibration, and collective energy to produce alchemical magic and initiation.