West African Drums & Drumming
with Maxwell Kofi Donkor
Watch the December 14, 2023 recording above
Join us for an in-depth discussion and live demonstration by the master artist Maxwell Kofi Donkor as he shares stories about the origins of African drums as well as their use and symbolism among the African communities of his homeland of Ghana. He will discuss his experience with receiving training and knowledge about this ancient art from his grandfather, Nana Donkor – a master drummer and linguist from Kumawu-Besoro of the Asante Kingdom of Ghana. Kofi will demonstrate different styles of drumming and comment on the effects of drumming on community building and well-being today.
Maxwell Kofi Donkor is an internationally recognized master drummer, dancer, choreographer, sculptor, and cultural educator. He is most known for his performances and teaching in African drumming and dance. He has been drumming and performing internationally for over 30 years. He directs the African drum and dance ensemble Sankofa, meaning “going back to the roots,” in the Twi language of Kofi’s native Asante Kingdom in Ghana, West Africa. Kofi also makes drums and other traditional instruments of Ghana.
Born in 1958 in his mother’s village, Soabe, he grew up surrounded by the traditional practices of his home and village. Kofi’s music and visual arts reflect the deeply connected atmosphere of an indigenous African upbringing, where everyone gets involved. Kofi considers the preservation of the indigenous Ghanaian arts and traditions his mission, and he works to bring the Ghanaian history and way of life to the world.
As a teaching artist, Kofi offers a variety of workshops, including “The Sounds and Sights of Africa,” “The Journey with the Spirit Drum,” “Storytelling and African Dance,” “Modeling of Traditional Garments,” and Adinkra Symbolism. He also teaches the arts of relief sculpture, mask-making, traditional pottery, woodcarving, textile hand printing, and doll-making. Kofi actively participates in school residencies, community celebrations, conferences, and festivals. He uses African cultural expressions in assemblies, lectures, performances, drum circles, and traditional African Ananse (spider) stories to promote understanding and respect for all cultures.