Rhythms for Peace
by Catharine Richert
weekend, thousands will converge on Washington, D.C. to protest
Americas imminent war. While the customary chants and signs
saturate the air, a different sound will also be heard. Oberlin
Roots of Resistance will join the crowds in D.C. expressing anti-war
sentiments though music.
The samba ensemble was formed this fall semester, although not as
a direct response to the aftermath of Sept. 11 events. We
began organizing a samba band a month ago with the intention of
demonstrating at the IMF/WB manifestation, senior Lindsey
Shromen-Wawrin said. September 11th made us reconsider our
tactics for a mass demonstration. Really though, we are still demonstrating
against the same things, war and racism. The difference is in the
institution under criticism.
Expressing resistance through percussion is not a technique unique
to Oberlin. As the rhythmic form of samba is rooted in protest and
resistance, many protest groups all over the world have latched
on to the idea of percussion as a form of resistance. Groups such
as Reclaim the Streets and the East London University Anthropology
group in London often used music during demonstrations, but found
the issues of getting sound systems into the protest problematic.
Thus, Rhythms of Resistance, which grew out of these two organizations,
overcame the problem by forming a samba ensemble consisting of percussionists
and instruments that could be transported anywhere.
Junior Marianna Leavy-Sperounis identified that the act of demonstrating
in D.C. for a war that has not yet been declared is a tricky situation.
this point, I feel totally comfortable protesting the armed strategy
of retaliation that is being developed by the Bush administration,
said Leavy-Sperounis. But the fact that there has not yet
been a declaration of war and no acts of violence that we know of
have been taken against the Taliban or Afghani civilians makes this
kind of a precarious situation.
Despite that fact, the demonstration is not any less significant.
Im going to participate in D.C. this weekend with the
hope that we will be able to make clear the message that we do not
support the acts of violence that will likely be inflicted upon
Afghani civilians, should the Bush administration implement the
kind of highly militarized strategy of war, said Leavy-Sperounis.
Although demonstrations such as the one to be held in D.C. this
weekend can be exhilarating and intimidating at once, Leavy-Sperounis
feels secure in demonstrating with OROR. In order to be effective
as activists, but especially as a drumming group, there has to be
a lot of trust because we depend on each other to make our message
heard and to be safe, Leavy-Sperounis said.
Indeed, the uplifting beats of percussion lends a degree of conviction
to those playing and listening. It mobilizes people and gives
us all self-confidence, said Schromen-Wawrin. Additionally,
the nature of samba music is precisely aligned with ORORs
message. Schromen-Wawrin said, It reflects the world we want
to create: participatory, free, without borders.