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Isis de Palma: Drums for Peace, Drums for Everyone

An Alliance participant since 1996, the year in which she helped to found the Alliance São Paulo Group, Isis de Palma is a venturesome, cheerful, and dynamic person. She tells of her experience with the drums orchestra “Ilu Bogbo Ayie” (Drums for Everyone) in São Paulo and with the global network Drums for Peace. “Without peace there can be no democracy,” says Isis categorically. To call for peace and dialogue, and to build democracy together, this cooperative of “percussion makers” are with us to play the beat ... and never stop!

Write to Isis

WN - Isis, tell us how the Drums for Peace experience began ...

Drums for Peace began in 2000 with Martí Olivella and the Nova group, taking its inspiration from a proposal by David Gakunzi, from Burundi, who in 1996 was already encouraging Allies from all countries to play drums together in a symbolic act of alliance. It is a global movement seeking to build a culture of peace through art. It is open to all artistic groups throughout the world, which can register on the Web site to become a part of it. Then simultaneous actions can take place, as in the experience at the four Continental Assemblies of June 2001: we had drums at all of them and it was a very strong experience.

WN - You use the drums as an rallying instrument ...

Yes, drums are infused with value as a symbol for meeting and political meaning. This is why it was in fact prohibited in certain cultures. Our drums do not rally for war, however: they rally for peace. The challenge is to make the drums convene people to talk with one another and for that talk to be profound. We have taken drums to many events in which conversation is promoted. Some are part of the Alliance São Paulo Group, such as Agora, which is a forum of education in day-to-day democracy and voting support. Our task is to build the bridge between peace and democracy, because without peace there can be no democracy. Full, fair, and lasting peace is obtained when people own their space and read political messages correctly.

WN - And now, with the Group’s own orchestra, conversations are turning into experiences ...

That’s right, our drums orchestra, “Ilu Bogbo Ayie,” which in Brazilian Creole means “drums for everyone,” was born of an instrument-manufacturing workshop that was held in April and May 2003. The players, aged fourteen to much older, also make their own instruments with raw materials. With Master Lumumba, they learn how to play the drums and to manufacture them with raw materials while he tells them the African myths that he knows so well. Most of them don’t have a steady job or are unemployed, so we are setting up a drums cooperative to manage their earnings. We are also forming drums groups in city schools with children and teenagers. These are multiplier effects that help to make the movement grow.

WN - What is your work with this group?

I am in charge of coordinating the Drums for Peace movement. I also help to organize the group. At the Polis Institute, we also produced the Alliance Proposal Papers in Portuguese. And we circulated them thanks to Agora and Imagens Educação. Now I am also working on the Charter of Human Responsibilities. As a contribution to the Greece meeting, I prepared a workshop with a few people from different socioprofessional circles, who got to know each other while thinking up suggestions that could be worked in with the Charter.

WN - And did you organize many other actions, for instance in the anti-war demonstrations?

For anti-war demonstrations, the World Social Forum, the Rio carnival, and many other events in São Paulo and in small villages, we always take drums, and Drums of Peace and Alliance banners. Each drums event is also an opportunity to explain the Alliance, the Proposal Papers... the celebration is always a vehicle for content.

Isis de Palma was interviewed by Germà Pelayo

Themes involved


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