By Bruce Harper Karnes Countywide staff

KARNES CITY – The summer ACE programs of several area school districts were part of an unusual team-building event Tuesday, July 2, at the Karnes City Performing Arts Center.

Drum Cafe, USA was in town and the beat of the djemba African drums could be heard and felt approaching the auditorium.

The program began more than 25 years ago in South Africa and was brought to the United States 17 years ago. The tribal use of the djemba in Africa actually goes back thousands of years. It was used and is still being used in communication, ceremonies and for entertainment. 

The program begins with every audience member being given a drum, a djemba. The ACE programs from Karnes City, Kenedy, Stockdale, Pettus, Pawnee and Runge filled the seats with approximately 200 young drummers.

“It’s a human, cultural experience. Everyone gets involved and follows the directions,” said Dale Monnin, the leader of the performing trio at Tuesday’s event.

The audience, including staff members and bus drivers, was directed on how to play the djemba and then how to play it together in catchy and rhythmic beats.

While the drums beat in unison, Monnin talks to the audience explaining about teamwork  and being the best you can be.

“We all walk the same walk,” Monnin said.

“Believe in yourself. Believe that you can go on to college, or be job ready or military ready when you graduate from high school.”

If the drums were just a little off beat, Monnin would have the audience begin again. 

“It’s all about becoming one, through teamwork. The beat is to inspire, uplift and incite,” he said.

The Drum Cafe, USA teams travel throughout the country working at corporate events, conventions and even at the United States Air Force bases.

“We were just in Utah and Ohio. Every week is different. We go wherever we’re invited to perform and deliver our message,” Monnin said.

“We use a non-verbal media; the rhythm of the music is what drives the program.”

The event inspires community spirit, cooperation, teamwork and team building, along with a  feeling of self-worth for the youngsters. All are mainstays to the beat of the drums.