Monday, June 11, 2007

Cape Town Day 6

The day began with Em and I running errands up at the University of Cape Town and then I went back to the library while Em sat in on the dissertation proposals of some of her classmates. When she finished we had Indian food for lunch in the atrium and then I went back to the internet café to make my bookings for Johannesburg. I worked on my blog most of the afternoon and then that evening we went into town for dinner and djembe lessons. We had dinner at Mama Africa, clearly targeted toward tourists, which specializes in serving game dishes that neither I (being vegetarian) nor Em were interested in. Nevertheless, we both had excellent meals and thoroughly enjoyed the marimba jazz band that included two marimbas, a xylophone, saxophone, trumpet, drums and everyone sang. It was a fusion of African and jazz rhythms and harmonies that was really quite cool. Afterwards we headed upstairs to Zula Bar where the swing dance lessons were just wrapping up and the djembe lessons were getting ready to begin. The djembe is a traditional African drum. The teachers, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), began by just having us emulate them and then taught us the two basic strokes: an open palm against the center of the drum for a lower pitch and just the fingers against the edge of the drum head for a higher pitch. As the night progressed they taught us more and more complicated rhythms, breaking each one down, teaching it slowly, and then speeding up and putting all of the pieces together. Finally, once we more or less had it (some in the group had it less than others), they let us maintain the rhythm patterns they had taught us while they improvised. It was great fun even though our hands were very sore by the end of the evening.

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