Kongo is the name of a West African Bantu tribe whose members were brought to Haiti as slaves during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It is also the term for a musical genre that represents the spiritual way of life in the Caribbean country.
Finally, it’s the moniker of Kongo Cultural Arts, a nonprofit that promotes Haitian culture by supplying musicians and choreographers to teach traditional rhythms, songs and dance throughout New York City.
The organization’s founder is Öneza Lafontant, who was born in Baconois, a region of Haiti where the African tradition of Vodou is still strong. For him, Vodou is a spiritual way of life that drums promote. They also connect Haitians to their ancestors, attract positive spirits that improve human welfare, and project love.
On September 26, Lafontant will lead a special celebration at Flushing Town Hall. Starting at 7 p.m., participants will first learn the basics of the two main Haitian drum families — Rada and Petwo. Then, they will jam in a circle in honor of the harvest moon.
The price is $20, and all skill levels are welcome.
Participants should register beforehand to reserve a drum.