The Batimbo Beats, a group of Burundians trained in the sacred drum dances of their native country, will perform at Westbrook Middle School’s Performing Arts Center on Sunday, May 20, from 3 to 5 p.m. The event, “Celebrating the Planting Season,” honors a Burundi tradition to declare the beginning of the farming year. Proceeds from Celebrating the Planting Season will support the International Gardens Project of the Center for African Heritage.
In the nation of Burundi, commonly called the Heart of Africa, Batimbo was a name given to families who had the privilege of being the guardians of the sacred tradition of the drums, which are made from hollowed tree trunks covered with animal skins. The drummers, dressed in bright robes, enter in a dramatic procession balancing the heavy drums on their heads. Their performance includes dance moves, leaps, and call-and-response chanting.
In addition to the Batimbo Beats, a dance troupe with the Rwanda Community Association of Maine will perform. There will be vendor tables with information, and arts and crafts for sale. A discussion of the Center for African Heritage programs and future plans will follow the performances. Admission is $25 for adults, $10 for children, at the door.
The Center for African Heritage is a non-profit organization striving to build coalitions and economic viability for the growing African community in the Greater Portland area. The Center addresses many needs, including hunger, poverty, youth development, job readiness, and economic opportunity, through farming and youth development initiatives.
This year, the Center for African Heritage plans to employ at least four youth interns and one youth leader at International Gardens Project at Tidewater Farm in Falmouth. The youths and their leader will participate in agricultural, employment, and leadership training in support of the farming groups and families who use the community garden plots. They will support marketing initiatives and train the farmers to use equipment. The land was made available to community groups in an agreement by the Town of Falmouth and the Tidewater Conservation Foundation. The International Gardens Project receives assistance from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.