Prince Adewale Laoye… The Drummer of Peace



Prince Adewale Laoye is a modern master of the African talking drum, as such he is regarded as the voice of the ancestors, speaking in a language of divinity through rhythm. Aside this trade that was famous by his late father, one time Timi of Ede, Laoye is also a singer, dancer and poet. He has dedicated himself in earnest to the revival of traditional Yoruba arts and culture, teaching and delivering lectures in Africa and abroad, and educating people about this ancient art form. He has organized and implemented many public events including ‘Drumming For Peace’ an annual event, which takes place every September 21, uniting people internationally and celebrating the World Peace Day. In this interview with DANIEL ANAZIA, he spoke about his new single, ‘Kilo Wo’

Who is drummer of Peace and how did you come about the appellation?
Well, my name is Prince Adewale Laoye, but I’m well known by the moniker the Drummer of Peace. I am a traditional drummer, Yoruba folk music revivalist, lyricist, and master of the African drums. I was born into it, and it has been air to me. I am a Prince from Ede, Osun, State, Nigeria, which is one of the ancient towns in Yorubaland. My maternal father came from a popular drumming family in Ede. I love music very much, and I am a member of the largest drum circle in the world since year 2011. Through this organization, we propagate peace through our drums, especially on World Peace Day, which hold every September. I am also the founder and CEO of Royal Home of African Talking Drum called (RHATDRUM).

I have represented Nigeria in international competitions including the ACCU Project, which UNESCO organized. I was also at the World Music day in South Africa, Black History Month in Brazil and Oratorio Concert. I was featured in a documentary on the Yoruba drums, Bata and Dundun. Few years ago I championed the revival of the Yoruba talking drum culture among the youths in the South-West of Nigeria. I am very passionate about my root that is why I am trying to revive our traditional music, dance, attires, and so on.

Amazingly, I was presented my ‘Royal Talking Drum’ at the tender age of three months by my maternal uncle. The late Pa Ajao Ayangbayi, with the interest of my parents. Singing and drumming are part of me, and I can say it’s hereditary because my father was a great drummer, singer, and a wonderful organist too. I loved drumming and singing from childhood as I was always thrilled with the fact that I could actually talk with my drum, and watching the royal drummers always triggered something in me. Drumming actually exposed me to elderly gatherings and cultural instructions. Through the art, I learned to be humble, courageous, and wise. I have always inspired by talking drummers as they would greet me with their drums and till today I am still inspired.

There is the wide speculation that you are set to release a single soon. How true is this?
Yes, I’m set to release a very educative and informative single, which I titled Kilo Wo, meaning ‘what do you wear. My kind of music is very percussive, melodious, and very danceable. I’m using the single to kick against indecent dressing in our society. The single will be available online very soon because we want to release it both for the Nigerian and foreign audience at the same time.

What inspire the title of the single…Kilo Wo?
Well, the word Kilo Wo, used to come to my mind anytime I come across people, particularly the women, who put on indecent attire, and I thought of addressing that issue through music. It took some weeks before I decided to pick one out of two titles that I had in mind then…Aso n’ Mowo (I’m cladded with clothes) and Kilo Wo…what do you wear? During the composition of the song, I had in mind Aso n’ mowo. But after meditations, I sought the opinions of my friends and family, I asked them to pick one out of the two titles and virtually all of them choose Kilo Wo.

What do you want or hope to achieve with the release with the single?
I want my fans, particularly the youth and the world at large to know that you don’t need to be nude before you can be a celebrity or a great and famous artiste. Celebrities are supposed to be good examples for the society. Our youths should dress the way they want people to address them with respect. Our ladies must try to respect themselves by dressing decently. I want my fans to know that I’m not an old folk song traditionalist, but a young man reviving wisdom for this generation to know who they are. Yes, I’m a traditional drummer, but not an old one;I am walking with cultural wisdom needed for today and the future.

Kilo Wo is saying we need to still hold honour and respect for our way of dressing as a cultural heritage. We are not about following Western attires or sex sells facades or fashion trends but our own which has outlived and still outlives anything Western. African originality is what Kilo Wo expresses, and that is why the song is arranged around a traditional theme with fusion of western styles. We wear who we are, and we are a great and beautiful people. We are really what the outside world should be copying.

One can easily noticed that your attire is unique; is it a reflection of your royal heritage?
The concept of my attire is unique because it’s locally (home) made of Yoruba people, and what makes it unique is that I use it to send message and educate people; it is our local attire and locally sourced.

It is called Kilo Wo style in Batick design. The pattern on the buba (shirt) is gotten from the shape of a Cassava leaf, which represents agriculture and farming, and this has been part of our cultural heritage, which incidentally is no longer encouraged by our leaders in Nigeria. They have forgotten that no farming, no food, and no food, no nation. It need be noted that no farming, no cotton, no textiles, no fabrics, or dyes. We have forgotten that we get cotton from farming, and this makes agriculture important. The fila (cap), is made from Aso-oke, a Yoruba fabric; the pendant is a symbol of unity, while the bracelet on my hands (ileke owo) reflects my royal heritage.

Final word to your fans and Nigerians in general?
I just want my fans to know that my new single, Kilo Wo is a question and goes to everybody in the world, not just for those who put on indecent dress or youths alone. Dressing in the context, also has to do with our society generally. So, I’m using the single to ask our leaders, what do you wear? To the politicians, how do you represent our nation? The citizens, what do you wear? What is our contribution toward development of our nation, Nigeria, and to those in diaspora, how well are you representing the country?

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