“Do you still drum ” ?

I grew up between the hills and valleys of Lebialem. I had the opportunity to experience lots of what rural life could offer. When I was 13 years old, and a form two student in the secondary school, I belonged to the Sunday school group in Church, and later grew into the Young Presbyterian (YP) group all in the Presbyterian church of Lebialem. It was always amazing how i had fun in all group activities. One of these activities that I remember vividly, is my drumming experience in choral music and traditional dances. Of course, socialization patterns had spelt out clear gender roles. This alone made me seem odd in the domain. Drumming was however seen as a thing for the boys. But how I got here was based on competence.

“You’re good at it. All these boys are bullocks ” Said my songs teacher- Mr Kan Vincent. He was that strict man even adults feared. Yes he was that strict. I was happy I could stand out.
I played the role of the “drummer girl” during our rehearsals till the rally day arrived. I played the drum during the choir and the traditional dances.

It all happened on a Sunday. Our rallies were usually big events that pulled Christians from different parts of the Sub-Division. Amongst the visitors was my ICT teacher Mr Emmanuel . We called him – Homer

The looks on the faces of onlookers could only define how shoked they were. But the excitement painted on their faces got me blindfolded. I couldn’t dictate what could be written on their minds. The fingers pointed at me from multiple directions in all my innocence meant quite nothing to me then. I was the lone drummer girl among the few drummer boys.

It was on the following Monday morning when my ICT teacher arrived in class and with no delay, he could spot me in a class of over 60 students. In total amazement, he explained to the entire class how shoked he was to find a girl that drums. My classmates couldn’t wait to process it but burst into laughter. I stood with my face facing the ground. I felt humiliated. I felt shy. I felt embarrassed. I could conclude i did the wrong thing. It didn’t end there. Each time he saw me, while smiling, he would ask me “do you still still drum “? This however didn’t sound to me like he meant any thing close to good. Often, it sounded just as saying “do you still steal ” ? This went on for a couple of months.

Well, this drew my attention to the famous Igbo-Nigerian movies, Western movies and musics which portrayed men as those playing the musical instruments and above all the drums, while all the ladies did the singing and dancing. In my brain, I could quickly scan through posters and flyers,text books and story books where only male images described a drummer. Hence you could only have a drummer boy not a drummer girl. And that was my conclusion since I had no role model. I never for any reason could drum again. My desire had all been watered down.

However, the nice thing is,the narrative is fast changing and seats are being switched. My thinking was shaped by society and exposure. There’s no such thing as only boys can do this or that. If your passion should drive you towards a certain path, walk the path till you arrive.

You see, my case was just drumming in the field of music. Stereotypes like this have killed the innate potentials in many women and girls, killing their ability to discover the best version of their selves. cutting accross the world of arts through the sciences women and girls face similar challenges. Above all odds, let competence speak, and not assumptions or stereotypes.

How ever, I plan on engaging in my music lessons again. I never take it for a defeat, I take it for a lesson.


68 Replies to ““Do you still drum ” ?”

    1. Am not surprised at the reactions especially at that time but am slso glad you grew up to be s gender expert who understands why people reacted the way they did.
      Always build your dream the way you want it to be viewed by others.
      Congrats for growing up to stay on the line of educating others on gender roles. Kudos Mam for this insightsive write up.

    2. Beautiful write up . together we shall change the societial view and it narrative regarding the girl child .it should begin within especially in our homes

  1. Well articulated my dear Marita. Stereotypes shouldn’t kill and bury potentials but rather all potentials should be watered with encouragement irrespective of our sex

  2. I can remember the days of 11th February with youth and cultural compétitions. Waoooo,the drummer gul,du courage

    1. Powerful!
      I really do enjoy girls doing that, and while not handle other instruments and activities. Kudos to you! Longing to see you performing with your drums.
      This is a call to all. Let’s not attribute certain roles/ responsibility based on the gender. I often hear people will say ” that’s for a boy” or ” that’s for a girl”. Let’s not let society to kill ” the real” person in us based on their set roles.
      Discover the talent or gift in you and explore in it. You can do it. Don’t let anyone kill your dreams or passion cuz of their stereotypical minds.

      Go Marita!
      Invite me when you want to do it. I really do enjoy such scenes.

  3. I’m so happy with your dreams and desires in promoting gender equality, it’s really helpful to the society. For those of us who believe that certain tasks are to be handled by men and not women I wish this message goes into their minds so as to reduce gender discrimination in our society.
    Mean I remain number one fan for that my dear. I de your back trong trong

  4. Haha hahaha! Yp menji. Yeah kudous ptit seour your story brings me closer to lebialem as well. You played a great role doing druming i can remember. Wish to see you someday doing that again.. Courage and always put your head up high we are with you

  5. I’d like to first of all applaud you for all the work you put into ensuring gender equality around you.
    I totally can relate to your story sis, it’s true that stereotypes have killed the potentials in so many people especially women and we need to change that, we must sensitize women to be whatever they want to be and not be put into any “box” by the society. We will win this!

  6. I’m so happy with what you’re doing. You make out that difference among girls and that has always been you even back then in secondary school. You always did your best to be among the best even though sometimes it wasn’t easy but you never ever gave up.
    Am proud and happy for you.
    Keep it up Nankeng.
    One people, one voice, one world.
    Together we can

  7. Wow! The drummer girl from the hills.
    Always stand out , speak and shine. What an amazing flashback. Will love to see pictures of those days.

  8. People like this have killed the dreams of so many youths especially girls. We really need to keep preaching this. How can a teacher, teach on TV and says she does not like teaching girls in maths,my heart bleeds,she prefer boys like seriously.We have a long way to go,but rest asure victory is ours

  9. Gone are those days when the society use to think some stuffs are only meant for men.
    Am impressed at you conclusion of not letting you dreams derailed by words that depress you.
    If great drummers like Meytal Cohen, Sheila E, Cindy Blackman etc succeeded, then you will despite all odds

  10. Wow this is wander. I loving drumming which was something I did when I was in Sunday school and CYF. I wish more women could learn how to play drums it’s so so amazing.

  11. Wow this is wonderful. I love drumming which was something I did in Sunday school and CYF. I wish more women could learn how to play drums. it’s so so amazing

  12. I am so proud of this narrative well punctuated with emotions and consequences. I love the spirit. Society in reality can destroy the talent in us. When I go through this I remember the comments made when I cleared my mother’s farm, split wood, play football and it was like”this girl makes like a boy”. Gone are those days. Women develope your talent and rule the world

  13. People should stop making girl children bury their dreams but should rather encourage them to what ever the like doing irrespective of their gender.Courage sis we need many people like you to change the society’s mine set.

  14. Talent has no g.ender respect and it’s given according to God’s several abilities. Glad u did though rough thought of u

  15. Beautiful write up Mari, I as a person was born in a family of just girls no boy and my Dad will make us do all the work which society believes is meant for just boys. And in my community people looked at us like aliens hahahahaha

  16. FOllow ur dreams n let nthg discourage u from achieving ur desires.what u do with passion is different from what u do just to earn money.

  17. The drummer girl. Happy you will like to continue your longtime passion.

    No woman should be limited based on Gender. None!

    Well, the only way out is to educate the stereotypes. There is alot of progress already due to education. And the course must continue.

  18. Thank you for sharing your esperience ma’am.
    We all can do better than everyone else by positively encouraging girls/women in whatever they find to do that our society does not think is appropriate for females.

  19. Beautiful Write up.
    The one things that stands out most for me is the fact that you intend to find that drummer 🥁 girl and bring her back.
    we are all equal in God’s eyes, so no gender is set to do this or that more. We should be all left to paint our own pictures.
    Thank you

  20. Of course my dear willingness and ability is what counts not our gender. Am our community is gradually digesting this positively

  21. Wow,what a beautiful write up.it shows that Uve been brave from the base age.you only achieve in life when you are brave.its not only the story of a brave girl, but I see two men,with two different perspectives vis-a-vis women and gender,sadly ,of the two it is the one(teacher) who is supposed to lead the fight against gender stereotypes, is championing the wrong cause.but I am happy the story also portrays a man who didn’t give the girl the opportunity to drum because she is a female, but did so because she had passion for it and was equally talented and dedicated

  22. My girl broke this barrier and move on is high time all young girl move forward and faight for their right it was a great lesson

  23. Thank you Marita for reminding us that gender has nothing to do with our passion and talent. I’m happy you are planning to go back to your passion. Keep inspiring…

  24. Deconstructing gender sterotypes in schools ,work place , will help girls build their talents it can promote gender balance and strengthening couching will remove the glass ceiling giving girls an opportunity to belong in activities that they feel comfortable doing. And making young girls to start building their careers at a tender age .I agree with you , it was a just like a taboo seeing a drummer girl when i was in school .no wonder we have very few women playing instruments when it comes to music.

  25. Hello Marita if there’s one thing I have learn from you is always to persue my goals regardless of what the world says or how the look at it . And to think that some of the jobs the world sees as being fit for Men are better done by women .

  26. Hey gurl…you inspire so many people including me with your teachings on the woman’s role in the society. Keep soaring and the Lord will definitely crown all ur efforts into success.

  27. This is so interesting my dear, gender equality is something that we all really need to pay attention to and stop paying more attention to boys/men than girls/ women. There are a lot of things out there which many girls/women can do better than some boys/men but they feel shy from what people will say about it. I was so happy to see a lady climb up a palm tree to cut the ripe palm fruits with a locally made rope in one village in Lebialem division. That is something I thought only men could do but this lady proved me wrong. I believe we are all equal to the task when it comes to what HE or SHE believe can do best. N:B This has nothing to do with man and woman fight oooo??? Women should take note before someone goes and die somewhere because you want to prove yourself to a man, THANKS.

  28. It is for sure that you are doing a great job concerning this gender equality ya way is with you do not relent better days ahead

  29. Wow,the article is so nice .You remind me of the days when I was in primary 2 years ago. Bigger girls will carry me on their back when we had YP rally because of distances.At that time there were no motto bikes .During competition or even during practice our YP teacher makes sure that all the girls are in front of the line singing while the boys behind hitting the drums.I think that girls should be allowed to choose the activity they feel comfortable doing.

  30. Nice and we’ll explicit write. Thank you for sharing this story. It sure will encourage many more ladies to pursue their dreams despite the challenges.

  31. Wao!!! Good write-up girl. Keep the flame burning. Wish many girls and women could read this, get inspired and go back to their talents long abandoned beause it was considered a man or boy affair. Kudos Marita!

  32. I just can’t stop reading this beautiful meticulously written article time and again savouring every sentence. Marita, it’s rather unfortunate that since human existence, humans grew up with the ideology that certain tasks/jobs are specifically designed only for men, and women are not cut out for such tasks/jobs. Well, I’m glad with how fast things are evolving and some societies are no longer myopic on how they view women’s potentials. An article like this is just what is needed to flush out such stereotypes in our society.

  33. Talent is something it never die, u can only forget but it’s never gone. Once you hit the activity then you realize that “oh…I still got in me”. Keep proving that gender distancing does not have a role in our society today.

  34. Dear Marita, that was unfortunately our society and what we inherited from the socialization process. But one thing I appreciate is that many changes have happen now and we are no longer limited by these Male and female stereotypes. The principles of equality and equity are those leading the world nowadays. Good to know you want to go back to what you liked doing. Go on and do it to the best of your abilities and it will take you to where ever you want to go. Good article! Thanks for sharing!

  35. El La Diva! To say I admire your relentless effort towards this gender equality is an understatement. You always speak up, many women have been taught and made to understand that silence will save them, but it won’t.
    When God created man and woman, he was thinking, ‘Who shall I give the power to, to give birth to the next human being?’ And God chose woman. And this is the big evidence that women are powerful.”
    Keep up the good work my dear.

  36. Nice one
    Keep the flame of your talent burning, who knows it might act as a pointer to greater heights. All the best as you journey on the road of life.

  37. Stereotype has hindered many from achieving their dreams and i think a lot still has to be done to reshape individual perspectives when it comes to taking up particular jobs and roles. I still remember watching YP perform from a tree top in our house, it was always amazing. It’s a wonderful piece you’ve put up courage

  38. This is a great review which potrays personal potentials irrespective of being a girl or boy, man or woman. This write up will serve as a footpath to the upcoming generation to always do what they have a desire in , and the current generation should be stereotype to changes

  39. An amazing read, thank you for sharing your story💛

    I am happy that your experiences have made you the incredible person you are today, advocating for both women and girl rights, thank you for your efforts. There is always a lesson in every experience and I am glad you chose to learn from yours, it takes great power to heal, learn and move on.

    It is sad that we have to fight for our rights more than the males in everything that we do, sad that it is a male dominated world, however we will not give up the fight to teach both the young male and female to change the narrative, to know better, do better and be better.

    Keep on shining bright and making the world a better place to live. 💖

  40. My dear this is a touching story, and a one to learn so many lessons from. We thank God for exposure and the fact that you now understand were your passion lies. All these were gender stereotypes, today you see the CWF women in our churches leading. Never give up untill your impact is felt. More grace to you and all the women out there who stands for gender equity.

  41. Yes, women can drum and Yes you still drum. Our society for so long has been of the notion that MEN are better capable of doing somethings than WOMEN. As a woman playing the drum on that faithful day you stood out among the MEN. At the time is was nothing but now you can look back and be proud of yourself. You are doing a great job. The world needs more people like you. Change is coming. Equality is coming. Keep doing what you do, you won’t only get to the light at the end of the tunnel but you will light up every tunnel you come across.

  42. Wow amazing write up and you are soo right I have seen many young girls who are good at things the society see it as good for boys thereby causing young talents to die out of young girls without them exploring these talents, This is an eye opener for us all to appreciate and encourage young talents especially in women and girls.

  43. You’ve got it girl! Women have it too and even better, it’s that unique thing peculiar to you and only you, let no one be a stumbling block… Kudos

  44. I must confess, I was one of the many guys who will always be like “ehh Marita hold it there have you seen any girl drumming before? So get to the dancing crew and dance ,for there is no drum for u” But then she challenged me and I was impressed by the sound. Again even in class she would always drum ( hit benches , back in lower sixth ) whenever the teacher wasn’t around . Today she tells the story of her early drumming days. I am most impressed about all your endeavors to bridge the gap between the two (male and female). Keep up sis for you have always been the dare type ( you were never frightened by either me or Douglas) since secondary school.
    Keep it up, slowly but surely we will make it happen.
    Courage , one spirit ,one heart, one nation.

  45. That people wonder about it is normal, but insults and mockery are not. According to me, you shouldn’t have abandoned since you were doing well. No job or activity is exclusively for men, any experienced and skillful lady can do anything. Keep working my dear, many doors will be open for you.

  46. Wow!
    This is very simple but very powerful narrative of how we are unconsciously been influence by very strong societal perception and cultures.

    Thanks for sharing your very intriguing story gender stereotype with us. I love the way your story shaped your chosen Carreer.

    Go back to that same village and let more girl know your story, give them drums, organize a dance where only the girls will play the drums and also do the dance.

    This will challenge the status quo and change the narrative gradually.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. Yes Marita! Your point is very clear. Your story is for sure one of many in our society. It is a great pointer to lives reality but can this change? Of course it can after all “it’s not the breast that does it, but the head” says the 1st female pilot from Cameroon Ms Njeuma.
      You are on track my dear girl. More grease to your elbows on this platform of positive Social Transformation.
      We are in this together.

  47. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such wonderful info being shared freely out there.

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