The sounds of drums playing could be heard all throughout the day and carried into the night. Hardly ever stopping for a short break, the drums beat on and on at the Ausar Auset Society second annual Drum Percussion Choir hosted at 6008 Germantown Avenue.
“It’s a great event,” Saantis Davis, marketing specialist and organizer of the event said. “I’ve been playing the drums ever since I was a little kid so this is always a blast for me.”
The Drum Percussion Choir is an event celebrating African music and history. The event contained African dance classes, drum lessons for children and adults, and most notably long demonstrations of drum performances. It also served as a fundraiser to help raise money for the Ausar Auset Society an organization with the goal of bettering people’s lives.
The way the Ausar Auset Society attempts to better people’s lives is different from the way the average American would think. It has nothing to do with finances or classroom education. Instead the focus is on an individual’s life skills.
“We go to school for 16 years to learn a skill to make money,” Davis said. “But we are not taught how to make a marriage work, raise children, deal with stress, how to be happy in the midst of a life challenge. We want to teach people the practices that made ancient Kamit so harmonious and prosperous. Everyone wants to be happy and true happiness can be attained if taught.”
Ancient Kamit is based off of practices of ancient Egypt and uses methods such as meditation, qi gong (balancing one’s life energy), diet, men ab (exercising of one’s will power), bazi (astrology) to help them reach success in life, which to a follower of Kamit is a life of constant peace and joy.
To Davis and others who practice the teachings, these exercises are important aspects of living a whole and complete life and it is essential to remember it’s history to learn from it now.
“I think recognizing [the history] is good but I feel the key is to study and emulate African culture because what they did,” Davis said. “Ancient Kamit is one of the greatest civilizations ever. What made them great was not their achievements of pyramids, astrology, philosophy, but the day to day practices and ideals of men ab, meditation, qi gong, diet that allow an environment of excellence. These life practices are what we practice and share.”
Though born and raised in New York, Davis remembers his African heritage and continues to practice the teachings of Kamit.
“[African history] means a lot to me,” Davis said. “My ancestors are African. I was raised in African culture. It’s the premise I think off of. It’s how I raise my kids.”
“They say history isn’t the study of the past but the study of what happen at that present time. African history not just my past but it’s my present and my future,” he added.
To raise money to help the Ausar Auset Society spread the insights of these practices, the Drum Percussion Choir charged a $10 admission fee to all who attended and sold various items such as t-shirts and toys all handmade in Africa. African art was also sold along with books on meditation and life practices.
However, what stole the show at the second annual Drum Percussion Choir was, as would be expected, the long drum performances.
These drum performances continually went on and on lasting from anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour and a half.
“That’s nothing,” one of the musicians, Maa Khereu said after playing a session that lasted over 45 minutes. “When your body and spirit are with the music time does not matter. The music uplifts the spirit and we could play on and on.”
Although the exact amount of money raised from the event has not yet been determined, Davis was pleased with the outcome of the event and is optimistic for the results.
“The event went well,” Davis said. “We raised money to help fund our organization and the community had a safe positive fun event to partake in. I would like to thank all the people who donated their time to make this event work; it’s so many I can’t even name each person.”
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–Text, video and images by John Henry and Sam Matthews.