• Learn about the types of drums used in West African drumming.

  • Learn about the cultural significance of Kuku in West African culture.

  • Learn the rhythms, accompaniments, and breaks for Kuku.

Join Shabaka Perkins and members of the Sankofa Village for the Arts for this introductory lesson on ballet style Kuku. Students can join in from home on drums, or even pots and pans if they don’t have drums of their own.

About the creator

man with drum

Shabaka Perkins

Moses “Shabaka” Perkins arrived in Pittsburgh in 1978 after several stops along the way. Shabaka always had a love for drumming. As a young child he often would use his grandmother’s pots as drums. He bought his first set of congo drums in 1980 and his first djembe shortly after. He immediately started taking djembe lessons from Yussou Lo of Senegal. It became his first love after family. Shabaka continued to practice and eventually started to perform. He took his first trip to Senegal, West Africa in 2003 and began to study under several master drummers. When he returned his love for Africa and the djembe was even stronger. Shabaka then began to perform and teach all over the city. Shabaka along with friends created a group called “Re Sun Sum”. The group performed at many different venues such as the Pittsburgh Zoo, Three Rivers Arts Festival, and several colleges/schools. He wanted to extend his vocabulary of drumming so he traveled to Ghana, West Africa twice to study.

In continuation of his studies he traveled to Haiti in 2014 for a cultural exchange then traveled to Jamaica to teach in 2016. In 2018, Shabaka traveled to Guinea West Africa with his granddaughter to study drumming and dancing. Shabaka now spends most of his time doing what he loves which is teaching young people at his studio called “Sankofa Village for the Arts”. He teaches the traditions and culture of West African drumming along with world history. Shabaka now serves as a director and teaching artist at Sankofa village for the arts along with two other males.

“Until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment.”