‘Talking drum’ master opens Year of Senegal with lively performance

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 22, 2023

The halls of Kennesaw State University’s Carmichael Student Center were alive with the pounding of drums, chants and claps as master drummer Massamba Diop introduced the music of Senegal to students, faculty and staff.

Diop and partner percussionist Tony Vacca led the crowd in spirited song and dance, Diop banging the West African tama, or “talking drum,” and leading a call and response as the pair darted through the rows of seated onlookers, who helped keep the beat.

The drum demonstration opened the Year of Senegal at KSU, the 39th year of the University-wide “Year of” program celebrating the music, food and life of cultures from around the world. 

“This is what we’re here for,” said Tara McDuffie, executive director of Global Education, who oversees the “Year of” events and was at one point pulled on stage to dance. “We’re focused on how to interact with and inspire our students and community when we introduce these new countries each year. The energy, the engagement that everyone in this room felt — that’s what we’re looking for.”

Diop, whose mastery of the tama has taken him on world tours and made him the featured soloist in the Marvel movie “Black Panther,” said his purpose is to spread the knowledge of his country’s music and culture around the globe. He said he is happy for the opportunity to include Kennesaw State in that mission.

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