Abdoul Doumbia brings African culture, music to Moffat County
We only own two things in this life, Abdoul Doumbia said.
The food we eat and the good deeds we do.
His words, though hard to understand through his thick, West African accent, resonated around the Craig Middle School auditorium, complemented by a wide smile, which he offered to the audience and the performers on stage.
Doumbia acted as more than a music teacher during his three days in Craig.
His presence was a lesson in culture, peace, love and the power of music and rhythm.
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On Saturday, that power was evident on the auditorium stage as 45 of Doumbia’s drumming workshop students performed the rhythms they had learned throughout the week on the djembe drum.
“Let’s love each other and be proud of each other,” Doumbia said. “Music is a way for people to be together.”
Between drumming groups, the Moffat County High School Jazz Band, the Yampa Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines International and a vocal octet featuring MCHS choir students performed myriad jazz, African and other upbeat musical selections.
In the audience of about 100, children were drumming on the seats in front of them while their parents swayed along with the beats.
Doumbia and local drum instructor Carey Kamperschroer sat in on several songs, adding an energetic and rhythmic element with the djembe and dundun drums.
“I think everyone loved it,” said Lori Romney, whose son, Mitch, met Doumbia at an African drumming camp. The Romneys eventually were involved in bringing him to Craig to lead a series of workshops on the djembe drum. “I think they’ve probably not had anything like this in their lives before.”
After the Romneys and Kamperschroer organized the visit and drum workshops, MCHS band director John Bolton helped organized the concert in just a few days.
Bolton was in awe of Doumbia’s talent and the lessons of multiculturalism and worldliness he brought to the students.
“We don’t have enough circumstances in life and in this town to have something this artistic,” Bolton said. “He told me about a drum that he got from one of his teachers that has been passed down, from teacher to student, for 500 years.
“I have no concept of that kind of history. He loves people; he’s very serious about what he does. He’s intense but not mean. He’s the real deal.”
Doumbia, whose typical response to a question is, “Why not,” followed by a toothy grin, was brought to America from his home village in Mali by Brown University in the 1990s. He now resides in Boulder, but has traveled across the world teaching and performing.
Still, a three-day visit to Northwest Colorado wasn’t like a chore or a job for Doumbia.
He said he sensed happiness and peace in the air, and he showed enthusiasm for each of his students.
“I don’t think they’ve had anything this African before,” he said.
“Ever since I come here, everybody smiles. Everybody supports each other here.”
As he stood on stage when his students were done performing, he thanked the Romneys, Bolton and Kamperschroer before offering one last piece of advice.
“Be the best,” he said. “Be the best Craig.”
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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. to include a response from the Bureau of Land Management’s national office.