Ara: Beyond The Talking Drum

The famous female talking drummer, Princess Aralola Apeke Olumuyiwa, has said that the talking drum is an instrument for communication that she believed the Almighty God is trying to use to communicate to her generation and future generations and also a platform for her to stand and give to humanity.

She made this known in an interview with staffers of the South-West Zonal Office of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Akure, Ondo State, on Saturday, 27th February, 2016 at Jojein Hotels and Resort, Akure, Ondo State.

Aralola, popularly known as, ARA, added that we are in a society, where the woman and girl-child are treated with derision, where they are seen and classified indirectly as second class citizens, where gender is seen as a barrier to achieving certain things in life; hence, the talking drummer believes she is a voice for African women and the girl-child.

In a bid to transfer her skills and knowledge, the female talking drummer said she has been teaching African descents in the Diaspora, saying, at the moment, she has a mini-gallery, which she intends to expand very soon.

The projects she anticipates to put in place include setting up a drum museum, theatre for stage plays, library, an auditorium for large coaching and youths mentoring, a recording studio (video and audio), and a community where youths, most especially the girl-child, can reach out to a mentor whenever they have personal issues.

Ara, who is also known as, the “goddess of the talking drum,” said she started drumming at the age of five; but that she started playing the talking drum about twenty years ago, which, she said, came as a result of her passion for beats.

She stressed that her choice of the talking drum met several brick-walls, as no female was known for playing the talking drum professionally, adding that the talking drum, which was played solely by men, was first a means of communication before it became a musical instrument; and perhaps, there were females who tried to play it but were not encouraged.

However, she said that she went ahead to buy the drum and all the professional talking drummers she met declined to teach her; so, she bought CDs of several musicians like King Sunny Ade, Ayinde Barrister, Hubert Ogunde, Kollington, Michael Jackson, and so on, stating further that that the drum has three tones, which are: “Do! Re! Mi!”

According to her, she had to ardently listen to the CDs she bought and from there she began learning the instrument, which was not without the genetic inflow and a spiritual undertone, adding, “At birth, my arms were as though I was playing the talking drum;” in essence, she played the talking drum from birth.

While narrating her story, the talking drummer buttressed the saying: “no pain, no gain,” when she explained how she sang and earned two thousand naira only, which was not enough to pay off her debts, as she even slept in a small room without any mattress; but that she gave thanks to God Almighty when she was presented as the First Prominent Female Talking Drummer in the year 2000.

Ara, the “Face of Mare Festival” in Ondo State, is also one of the Cultural Ambassadors of Ondo and Lagos States, respectively; she has bagged numerous awards both within and outside the shores of Nigeria; and she is a potential Living Human Treasure in Nigeria.

Chris Sodje & Stephen Ayomoba

NICO SWZ, Akure

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