In February 2017 Èkó Samba Community welcomed its first visiting Samba Director, Dana Monterio, from Harlem, New York, USA. Dana facilitated a donation of some brand new instruments from Contemporânea in Brazil (his sponsor for the visit) and delighted the kids with new rhythms and breaks. Dana has been directing Harlem Samba since 2006 and teaches on average 400 students per week at the Frederick Douglass Academy. This cultural exchange in Lagos through the globally spoken language of samba was an invaluable experience for the children and young people of Èkó Samba Community. In just one week of workshops they were able to grasp and learn multiple new breaks and beats. Dana challenged the kids because he felt they could handle everything he taught them – and they could. It was a week full of fast paced drumming sessions and the kids really enjoyed having Dana here. It is a testament to their natural talent and the solid foundation they have already built over the years with our Musical Director, Seyi Ajeigbe, that they were able to keep up and learn so much.
Dana teaches our drummers a Harlem Samba break.
Dana’s visit demonstrated the positive impact that cross-cultural exchange has on our children and young people, which is why it is a core part of our programme. Whether the kids are being taught something new in Lagos by a visiting samba player, or they travel internationally to develop their learning through workshops and events, the common theme is that they are able to connect to an international community through the language of samba. Many of our members are now very much fluent in samba and are ready to develop their skills to the next level, which Dana’s visit certainly did.
“It was such an honour to work with the Èkó Samba Community. Everyone has so much passion for samba. The group plays with such great energy and enthusiasm. Visiting Lagos was a wonderful experience. I look forward to seeing the progress of the Èkó Samba Community in the future. I hope to return to Lagos to play samba with them again and I hope others decide to go to Lagos to see these fantastic samba musicians for themselves.” – Dana Monterio, Harlem Samba, New York.
All smiles after a workshop with Dana.
To view the full collection of photos from Dana’s visit, click here.
On 25th December 2016, Èkó Samba Community paraded in Lagos Island as part of the long-standing Fanti Carnival. This Carnival was started by the Brazilian Descendants of Nigerians, who returned to Nigeria once slavery ended. It is a manifestation of their enduring connection to their Brazilian roots, with hand made costumes, live music and a parade that runs through the local neighbourhoods of Igbosere, Lafiaji, and Campos within the Brazilian Quarters.
Our Musical Director leads 30 drummers in a warm up before they take to the streets of the Brazilian Quarters, Lagos Island.
It was an honour for Èkó Samba Community to be part of this event and further strengthened our connection with this kindred community. A group of 30 kids paraded and drummed non-stop from start to finish for almost fours hours. The energy was electric and our drummers were very well received by the local community as well as other participants of the Carnival.
One of our Assistant Directors, Tobi, told us that this was one of his best outings to date with Èkó Samba Community:
“Performing at Fanti Carnival was a glimpse of my dreams coming true and it was exclusively my best Christmas.”
Two of our drummers are caught in the pure joy of parading at Fanti Carnival.
Our Musical Director Seyi calls the attention of the drummers as they parade through the historic streets of the Brazilian Quarters in Lagos Island.
Click here to view our full collection of photos from the Carnival.
In December 2016, Èkó Samba Community was invited to feature on the official song for Calabar Carnival. As a result, a group of nine members from a mix of age groups were selected to attend a recording session with the highly acclaimed Asuquo Cobhams at his studio in Lekki. This was quite a pivotal moment for many of these kids – as their talent and abilities were praised from a highly successful producer from the popular music world. This experience had a significant and lasting impact on the self worth of these children and young people – which is something we continually strive for at Èkó Samba Community.
By teaching children to lift themselves up and know their worth for simply being who they are, we believe we can help change their outlook on life and the way they see themselves. Èkó Samba Community teaches children and young people to respect themselves as well as others, and to celebrate their natural gifts and differences.
Since our establishment in 2011 we have strived to include a true mix of children and young people, as a reflection and representation of the diversity within Lagos. However it is only in recent months that we can proudly say we now have young women drumming as part of our group. Since September 2016, seven young women have now joined our drumming group – a real breakthrough for our community.
Five out of seven of our new female members relax after rehearsal.
Through regular engagement with the local community and encouragement from their male peers, we have managed to transcend the gender boundary that exists here in Nigeria. These young women finally felt comfortable enough and confident to join in drumming, which is stereo-typically a male dominated art form in Nigeria. We are very proud of our female members and hope that even more will be joining us soon.
Some of our new female drummers pictured here with their chosen instrument.
Ese, pictured above with her drum of choice, the caixa, shared her feelings about why she joined Èkó Samba Community and how it feels to drum as part of the group:
“I enjoy doing it. It’s fun whenever I come here. And then there’s that wild freedom that just takes over you [while you’re drumming] and you just play and forget about your environment. That’s what I really loved when I first saw their videos and that is what made me join them.”
On 9th December 2016, Èkó Samba Community was invited to take part in the Orile Iganmu Nursery and Primary School Christmas/ End of Year Party organised by Kinabuti. Our Musical Director, Project Coordinator, two Assistant Directors as well as six other members of ESC attended. Throughout the course of the afternoon, they gave samba workshops to 1,000 young children.
Young school children rush to the front to see our drummers demonstrate how to play samba.
A student tries his hand at playing a samba drum for the first time.
Opportunities like this help our more experienced members to develop their social responsibility and teaching skills, as well as build their self-esteem. Developing the young peoples’ transferable life skills is at the core of what we do at Èkó Samba Community, empowering them to be self sufficient, determined and in control of their own destinies. Naturally the day was rounded off with a performance by Èkó Samba Community, which had all the kids (and teachers) dancing.
Our resident dancer, Soma, leads the school children in an impromptu dance workshop.
Our resident dancer Soma leads the school children in an impromptu dance workshop.
It was an incredible day, full of excitement from the school kids and a lot of hard yet rewarding work from our members. Ultimately this was a great experience for some of our older and more experienced members to teach samba, share their skills, and impart something positive to these young children.
A full collection of photos from the day can be found here.
Our drummers enjoy the school children’s dance competition.
Our Founder and Musical Director, Seyi Ajeigbe, is currently being featured on CNN International’s African Voices. He recounts how our drumming project came to be, and talks about what inspires him to achieve even more with these talented kids.
Over the past few years our project has grown from strength to strength and we now have two boys, Tobi and Emmanuel, that have graduated to Assistant Director level. This means they are responsible for teaching the rest of the kids in the community and supporting our Musical Director.
As part of this progress, we want to bring them to London this August to experience playing with prestigious UK based Samba Schools, to take part in an international carnival, to develop their directing skills and to give them an experience of a lifetime. Neither of them have ever left Nigeria before.
Please visit our donation page and give whatever you can afford to help make this dream a reality. We will all be truly grateful!!
A lovely bit of press about Èkó Samba Community in the Guardian today about our maiden visit to the Brazilian District of Lagos Island, also known as Popo Aguda. Read all about the hugely significant day and its impact on the community here.
Some of our members were also featured in a photo story, here.
Check out a video of the first time that Samba was played for the Afro-Brazilians descendants in Lagos –
11th February 2016 saw Lemi Ghariokwu celebrating his 60th Birthday at Freedom Park and Èkó Samba Community was honoured to pay homage to this talented and inspirational man.
Lemi is a self-taught Nigerian artist, renowned for his designs of Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti’s album covers during the 1970s – 1990s. Lemi proudly proclaims himself to be “the conscious African” and delivered a powerful speech reminding us all that above all else, the most important thing for the progress of humanity and the world that we are in today is “man, know thyself.” Illuminating words that left an enduring impression on the young minds of the lucky ESC members who were at the event to perform for Lemi.