Tuza Afutu is a spectacular performer, passionate teacher and an expert in traditional West African music. He truly comes alive in front of an audience.
Hailing from Ghana, West Africa, Tuza began drumming at an early age. He came from a poor family and says “There is no way we had enough money to buy a drum.” He had to improvise with nothing but pots, pans and jerry-cans.
That was more than three decades ago. Now, Tuza is the Creative Director of African Beat. He entertains Australian audiences with interactive African drum and dance sessions. Tuza captivates diverse groups including school students, aged care residents and corporate high fliers.
Tuza is an African Master Drummer
In simple terms, a master drummer is someone who has given their whole life to mastering the art of African drumming.
Older masters pass down the status of “Master Drummer” through the generations. But what does it take to become a Master Drummer?
- Learning with the older generations of Master Drummers, usually for 20 years
- Starting at an early age and practising daily
- The ability to play all the rhythms, dances & songs of the tribe and nearby regions. That’s hundreds of different rhythms!
- Playing a variety of different percussion instruments and singing
- Acting like the conductor while simultaneously playing solos and leading the music
Gary France, Drum Scene magazine, interviewed Tuza about being a Master Drummer.
The Salaka Ensemble
Tuza formed The Salaka Ensemble in Nungua, Ghana in the mid-’90s. They are a group of genuine African performers, who share their love and passion for African music. “Salaka” means “sharing”, thus the group aim to share African music experiences with others. There is also a junior ensemble who learn from the main ensemble to further preserve the musical traditions.
Salaka’s has toured annually in Australia since 2008. Their style of music is vibrant African drumming, breathtaking harmonies and high energy dancing.
Tuza’s passion is sharing the music of his tribe (the Ga people) in the hope that traditional music would not be lost. He does this is by teaching younger generations back in Ghana (Salaka). He also gets everyday people playing the djembe.
During live shows, the performers hand out hundreds of drums to the audience to get them involved in the music.
“When you do a show and people are just watching you it’s not as engaging, so to make everybody happy you involve them and by the end of the performance, everyone feels like they are a part of it,” Tuza Afutu says.
Tuza leads African Beat’s performances in his new home of Sydney, where he settled in 2004. He has performed for a myriad of audiences such as The Pope, The Socceroos, Kim Kardashian and The Premier of NSW.
“It doesn’t matter if there are people speaking many different languages, everyone feels the groove and the rhythm. Rhythm is a language that allows us to communicate with anyone from anywhere in the world.”
Read more about Tuza.
You can also learn to drum online with Tuza.