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African drumming represents life, freedom

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Drumming and dancing is a way of life for Africans, and Jonkonnu is day to freely express yourself by doing both of those. Some folks got to feel that freedom on Saturday as the Bellamy Mansion housed a Jonkonnu celebration.

Lead drummer Cheick Sissoko said he has dedicated his life to empowering young people, and he said African drumming does just that. "Having something unique, to them, it boosts their self-esteem. It makes them want to do this more. Being at Jonkonnu, for them, it becomes a way of life. It's no longer about finishing out of class and go play Play Station, but finishing out of class and having the Jambe, and then wow. They are connected to a bigger culture here."

Sissoko said Jonkonnu is also about remembering the past and looking forward to the future. “Without drumming, there is no beginning and there is no end. With drum, you have the tree. It's part of life, you know, you have the forest. You have goatskin, which is, you know, the goat, it gives food. And you have human contact. So you have all these elements that make us what we are, who we are.”

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