Video: The Sounds of Tamala Africa Percussion Troupe, The Gambia

Posted on January 21, 2014 by

I hear the infectious beat of the drums before I see them. A raucous mix of polyphonic rhythms and dramatic melodies blasts through the iron gates. We enter the family compound and find an 18-member band erupting into a cacophony of roaring percussion beats: the rattling of the tambourine, the tinkle of the balaphone and the beat of the West African djembe drums. The players pulse from one foot to another, perspiration on their brows, concentration in their eyes.

My friend and host, Kathryn Burrington from The Gambia Experience, had first seen the talented Tamala Africa Cultural Troupe perform at a friend’s wedding. They were such a hit that she invited them to put up a special performance for our group of bloggers/writers this time round on a family compound. Unlike the usual entertainment programs found in hotels all over Gambia, this percussion performance is truly genuine and outstanding. The performers – all from Guinea – explode with so much passion that we can feel it through their music.

Percussion music is integral to West African culture – and witnessing a percussion performance is an essential experience here in Gambia. As their representative Mohammed tells me, “When you hear drums you feel something inside your body, because they have this super natural power. It goes into our body and touches our soul. You see when a drum beat has the same pulse as our heartbeat, we hear the spirit of the drum sound.”

As someone who’s not the least bit musically inclined, I can’t really understand what he’s saying. I decide to close my eyes and try to feel the drum beat. Maybe he’s right. When the drum beat is in sync with your heartbeat, you feel the music in your body.

Here’s a short video of the spectacular performance, hope it takes you there with us.

Dancing with full focus
Dummers in Gambia
Drumming hard
an impressive dance move
Having fun

Disclosure: My trip was made possible by The Gambia Experience but all opinions expressed above are my own.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

4 Responses to “Video: The Sounds of Tamala Africa Percussion Troupe, The Gambia”

  1. Ruann Weidemann January 21, 2014 12:40 pm #

    That was such an enchanting quote from Muhammad the host. The video is nice, but your words just made me want to be there in flesh. I lived in Mozambique for quite a while, and since their thing was more dancing, the passion you described was just as visible, coming from their souls and reflecting off of their faces.

    One can really see the concentration you're speaking of in this last photo. Such a beautiful post, can't even begin to think what the real experience must have been like. Thanks for sharing!

  2. kristy January 23, 2014 11:58 pm #

    The performance is great! I love how the movements of the man is so graceful to the beat of the music.

  3. Kathryn Burrington February 7, 2014 9:34 am #

    Oh Nellie, happy memories indeed! Now you've got me longing to be back in The Gambia, dancing to the drum beat!

  4. Drumles Den Haag June 13, 2017 3:31 pm #

    Nice performance. These people are so into the rythm and the beat of the drums. Really awesome!

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