Earlier this month, I was honored to sit on the panel discussion for the movie Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey at the African Diaspora International Film Festival, at Teachers College, Columbia University. This was truly an amazing event because it highlighted an powerful project that I’ve been associated with for the last five years! The film tells the story of an idealistic African social worker who initiates an ambitious project to take a group of street musicians to West Africa. Fascinated by the sounds of the bucket drummers in the South Side of Chicago, Elilta Tewelde, aims to connect the young men to their African heritage through the beauty of music. She raises money from the community and takes the young men to Senegal to participate in traditional drumming workshops under a master percussionist and his family. However, the cultural divide causes many problems to surface along the way, ultimately challenging the project leaders and bucket drummers to unexpected limits and discoveries about themselves.
My role in the film was as a mentor and big brother to these young men. I pulled on my knowledge of Rites of Passage training to share information that would benefit them once they returned home to Chicago. It was an amazing journey, that was documented very well.