By Miguel Amante, Communications Coordinator
Saikou Saho sits patiently in the CAMH Queen Street Patient Library amid a collection of Djembe drums – hand-made instruments of stretched animal hide over wooden bases – waiting for his first class of the day. Saikou is an experienced drummer from Gambia and the owner of African Drums & Art Crafts, but today he’s here to host the first of many introductory drumming sessions sponsored by Gifts of Light, working with VIBE Arts.
As people begin to enter the room, the smile on his face spreads, and it’s infectious. Whatever apprehensions people have slowly melt away as he invites his new students to take a drum and find a seat among the chairs that form the drum circle.
“Here, try this one. The size might be better for you since you’re a bit taller,” he tells one patient, while handing out drums to the class. He makes small talk, asking people about their musical background and learning more about his new students. And while some of todays’ participants have had musical training, everyone is an equal, and everyone is welcome.