Ayan Agalu = Spirit of The Drums


***Mistakes Are Portals of Discovery &  Oxygen of Knowledge:  Play A Wrong Note Is Insignificant – Play Without Passion Is Inexcusable…

((( Ilu Sekere Agbaye = Chekere Mundial ===

Ayan/Anya was an Orisa worshiped by the Ancestors of the W/African people and thereby considered as the God of drum and music. Drums like Bata, Sekere, Sakara, and Gangan, Agahu, Dundun, Djembe etc… These Drums are used in  religious worship and some are strictly attached to ritual and ceremonial events. In any case, it is traditionally compulsory to appease Ayan/Anya invented and endowed the drum with visible and invisible forces.

Drums among Africans are products carved from trees as one of the natural landmarks that as symbols through which they communicate spiritual forces. It is the belief of the W/African people that Drums therefore carry spiritual traits inherent in the tree they are made from and this makes their use important within the religious practices in which they feature within the community. The natural landmarks which Drums are made from are therefore identified as a form of symbolic ritual aesthetics in any ritual practices among the people within their environment.

Ayan/Anya as an Environmental Deity of the Drum African indigenous religion has its foundation in the culture and tradition of the society. It is this platform that created the belief which people adhere to. The religious belief, therefore, identifies the level of spiritual relationship between the human and the primordial, deified and personified divinities recognized within the religion. The major objective of this relationship is to show that there is a major link between man and higher power, which is God, local deity, a nature deity or a deceased Ancestor.

The Sacred Drums speak the Orisha language, and have been used traditionally to recite prayers, religious poetry, greetings, announcements, praises for leaders, and even jokes or teasing.

 Knowledge and Skills Expected of the Master Drummer…

Music in traditional West African culture is all-pervasive. Without it, the people cannot properly create poetry, record history, educate children, celebrate at festivals, praise or abuse, entertain, marry or even die. From the moment of birth, the infant is exposed to strong musical influence. Cradle songs are sung to babies when they are on their mother’s back; these are accompanied by a simple dance step, providing a physical manifestation of rhythm. As soon as the child is old enough, he is encouraged to sing and imitate simple dance movements with accurate rhythm dance pattern and songs. Most of the learning situations mentioned above are informal, providing an opportunity for the child to learn by imitating, observing and listening. Their purpose is to help the child understand his own culture and learn to find his place in it. Religious music tells of the divinities, tribal ancestors and the types of prayers and supplications. As the child absorbs the messages of these songs, he learns what it means to become a full participant in society. Everyone becomes at least an adequate enough singer and dancer to participate in cultural life.

The Master Drummer, music for him is a consummate life-long occupation, and his training is an intensive, continuous process which produces in adulthood a musician possessing skills and knowledge of a degree and breadth to overestimate. The vast majority of Master Drummers are born into drumming families and have fathers who are Master Drummers. An exceptionally gifted child from outside the house of secrets may be apprenticed to a Master Drummer. He will receive the same technical training as a male born into the drumming family, but it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to absorb all of the cultural, especially religious, knowledge that would be picked up naturally by the son of a Master Drummer.

Master Drummer from the house of Secrets emphasizes masters of traditional importance, such as how to please the Gods and his Elders, and how to communicate more to his listeners that the message his Drum speaks. His aim is to touch their hearts and move them, and it is this quality in his art that is judged to be the most important for his technical skill is assumed to be near perfect. The importance of the evocative nature of sound which might be used to achieve the drummer’s desired results, through the medium of sound, he could evoke and handle psychic forces of tremendous potency, which his will could then direct as it suited his purposes. These are some of the things that the Drummer of the house of secrets knows intuitively but which the outsider does not fully grasp.

Hubert Ogunde, (born 1916, Ososa, near Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria—died April 4, 1990, London, Eng.), Nigerian playwright, actor, theatre manager, and musician, who was a pioneer in the field of Nigerian folk opera. He was the founder of the first professional theatrical company in Nigeria. Often regarded as the father of Nigerian theatre, Ogunde sought to reawaken interest in his country’s indigenous culture. Ogunde’s technique was to sketch out the basic situation and plot, and then write down and rehearse only the songs of his plays. The dialogue was improvised, thus allowing the actors to adjust to their audience. The plays produced by his company usually reflected the prevailing political climate and interpreted for audiences the major issues and the aspirations of those in power. His company performed with equal ease in remote villages and in metropolitan centers of Nigeria.

Let us playwhen they are all in the compound, and for no particular event. Even then they will say that they are playing to get the feel of the Drums, to test them and make sure they are tuned and sound right. They improve constantly within the structure of their everyday lives. The greatest single motivation for a West African child to do well at his drumming is social: he wants to perform and behave as society expects him.

   “He Who Knows How To Wash His Hands Will Eat With The Elders.”

A Drummer never really finished his training or graduates. He is always being tested by older Drummers and as he himself grows older, he will continually test his juniors. Thus, an unbroken line of constant teaching, learning, practicing, and testing is sustained in the house of secrets.

A Master Drummer knows, if he is successful and to what degree, by the general demand for him by how often he is invited to play, and by the status of those who invite him. The people evaluate him primarily on the correctness of his language and his memorization of names and other details, on how well he makes them dance, and how his music touches them personally. Master Drummer is not only a virtuoso on his own lead drum, but he has also mastered the others in his ensemble. In addition, he is a composer, the ensemble conductor, a poet, a historian, a repository of religious knowledge, a philosopher, the coordination of dance and song, and a psychologist par excellence.


Sacred Drums represent the ultimate expression of God as sound Its symbol is the Drum which serves as both the repository of divine power and the vehicle to give it voice. Sacred Drum is said to be Female and is the patron Deity of all Drummers.  Therefore, the history of the Drum has evolved from one of religious use and interpretation to musical accompaniment and creation. The Sacred Drums are hermetically sealed sound chamber with certain ritual ingredients and medicines locked inside. When properly performed this ritual heading of the Drum is said to affix secret to it.

In a traditional way, Drums are considered to be hung, placed in a reserved place when not in use or set in the sun. This provides a relative dry and undisturbed storing place. The Drum must not be dropped, thrown, stepped over, sat on, or used to curse someone. If these are accidentally or deliberately done, they became a matter of a serious or a grave sin that must be atoned. The sin is considered as a serious taboo to Ayan the God of the Drum. In that case, if a Drum is broken, it is wrapped in white cloth and buried like a human being in a special ceremony.

==Mistakes are the portal of discovery… *The spirit world often requires some of our most sacred possessions in exchange for its access… *Without a head a poisonous snake is just a rope…


The Drum Spirit Who’s larger Than life – The One That Sleeps On Its Side – The Initiates Know The Secret of The Tortoise – The One That Breathlessly Take The Marketplace By Storm. The Sharpen & Pointed Wood. I Seek Life & Prosperity – Not Death – Disease The Brave One In The house – The Farm. The One That Stands Strong Like Ogun In The House Looks Like The Initiates of Orisha Oko.


Reference Sources: Tete Kitissou = Google Search/Photo = Wikipedia =


8 thoughts on “Ayan Agalu = Spirit of The Drums”

  1. Erin Tunde = You’ve walked a beautiful long path… destiny of light, yet with light come darkness because we cannot have one without the other to be complete. Congratulations Yagbe Awolowo Onilu you are complete. Ase.

  2. I Thank you Baba for the lessons and words of wisdom , I hope to learn much from you , where I live we don’t have Baba S who teach , this is the way we need to get back to , to regain respect and moral standing in Society .

  3. Thank you so much for this in-depth information. I am deeply touched by these powerful words and images. The sacredness of the drum cannot be under estimated, yet alas is often what happens in America. Thank you Yagbe Awolowo Onilu for answering my call. This is so timely. I am very grateful for this information to fuel my knowledge and thirst to learn.

  4. Please Baba if an innocent drummer is drumming talking drum for a long time and later know that ojubo ilu is on the drum. please what can he do? can the drum affect him?

  5. Nancy Josephson = My heart is full Thank you for this, and all your writings. And thank you for your inspiration, knowledge, and sharing. It is an honor to have your sage words to read.

  6. Kamau Mensah = Brother Yagbe…hope you are well. Thank you for this post. Your level of mastery on the drums will always be a source of inspiration to those of us who know and respect you. Thank you for this posting…ASHE!

  7. Aboru Aboye Olye Agbaye. Thank you for opening Spirit world to me through your Gift of using Music to communicate in Spirit Realm. Adupe o!

    Ivan Liebman Roque = Yagbe Awolowo Onilu Every time I read your posts I end with a big smile in my mouth but today I almost got to the tears. You just sound like my father, he was into Palo Mayombe and he taught me about this awesome culture and belief. I started with the African drums because of that and I just read this post as he has talked to me. I totally agree when you said we never end our training as Drummers. I don’t have a rank or hierarchy but a couple of ilekes and my drums and I love that everywhere my drums take me to, I always have the blessing to meet awesome people like you. Thank you for this and all your awesome work. Mucho Ache, much love and blessing to you.

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