page top

red arrow bulletNews

West African Performers Entertain and Engage Monticello Students

May 7, 2012

The rhythm of the drum beat was so powerful it did not take much to get the roomful of high school and middle school students to their feet dancing and singing. Led by world-renowned musician Bernard Woma and the Saakumu Dance Troupe, Monticello students were treated to an authentic West African musical experience that was enlightening, exciting and engaging.

During the recent workshop, Mr. Woma and his Sounds of Africa band played drums and rhythmic instruments, showcased original dance techniques and taught the students some traditional African dance moves and song lyrics. As an added delight, Mr. Woma played his Dagara xylophone, which is a hand-carved wooden instrument with dried gourd resonators and vibrating, spider web-covered sound holes. Prior to the performance, he explained that the Dagara is known in West Africa for “mesmerizing the listener, healing the spirit, and bringing happiness and joy when the vibrations connect with the human body.” Judging from the smiles on the students’ faces, they were definitely connecting to the sounds and experience on many levels.

“Singing and dancing is very important in the African culture,” said Mr. Woma, who is from Ghana. “In my country, it is expected that if you can walk – you can dance, and if you can talk – you can sing.”

For more information, visit or


CLICK HERE for the Photo Gallery from this event.

CLICK HERE for the Video Clip from this event.


Below is the original press release about Sounds of Africa

Sounds of Africa - with Bernard Woma and the Saakumu Dance Troupe - Entertaining and Engaging

The award-winning Bernard Woma and the Saakumu Dance Troupe is one of the leading traditional - contemporary dance andBernard Woma music groups in Ghana, West Africa. Their music and dance is joyful, and expressive and includes spiritual, ceremonial, recreational and contemporary African dance.

Mr. Woma and his troupe have visited Monticello in the past to perform for the public and facilitate workhops with students. This year, his April visit to Monticello High School was engaging for students from both the high school and middle school.

Bernard Woma has shared the performance stage with renowned artists such as Maya Angelou, Yo Yo Ma, and Glen Velez. He has performed for international dignitaries and presidents such as U.S. president Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II.

He was recently honored as the cultural resource person for President Barack Obama's family when they visited Ghana. He is a true cultural treasure from Ghana who has toured the world as xylophonist and lead drummer of the National Dance Company of Ghana. Bernard is an extremely dynamic artist and deeply experienced educator. His recent appearances in the U.S. include a performance with NY Philharmonic and South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.

For more information about Bernard Woma, visit

Photo: Bernard Woma playing his authentic, handmade Ghanaian Xylophone