Workshops / Classes


For more info:      

This will be an ongoing event, every 2nd and 4th of the month. The goal is to promote community through providing Artists = Dancers = Drummers from different traditions a place to mingle, play and share their art. Come to the Iroko: a bi-weekly gathering of musicians and culture bearers and seekers wishing to strengthen community ties, share knowledge of traditional arts and practices, and grow in their their own practices. Bring your family and friend’s. Celebrate traditional cultures and art forms. Hosted by keepers of African traditions and welcoming to all people of conscious mind and open heart. Children are welcome…

Traditional African Dance is an essential element of Africa’s cultural heritage, providing a vital expression of the region’s philosophy, and the living memory of its cultural wealth and its evolution over the centuries. Because it has more power than gesture, more eloquence than word, more richness than writing and because it expresses the most profound experiences of human beings, dance is a complete and self sufficient language. It is the expression of life and of its permanent emotions of joy, love, sadness, hope, and without emotion there is no African Dance. Designed By: Afshin Mokhtari

     Throughout life, love can come at us fast and stay for ages. United Roots will be hosting Iroko… Our celebration would be greatly enriched by your participation.  We are asking key community Artists to join us in our festivities as our residents and community take center stage.

















Beyond creating an enjoyable place for residents to relax and visit with friends and families, we see this event as a very positive way to celebrate the community spirit of Bay Area and our appreciation for the residents, staff and volunteers of our community who have given so much to our town. We hope you can join us for this fun and meaningful community activity…

Culture is not a decoration, the songs we sing or even the prayers we chant. It is a blanket of comfort that gives meaning to lives. It is a body of knowledge that allows the individual to make sense out of the infinite sensations of consciousness, to find meaning and order in a universe that ultimately has neither. Culture alone allows us to reach, for the better angels of our nature. The full measure of a Culture embraces both the actions of a people and the quality of their aspirations, the nature of the metaphors that propel their lives. **The role of creative leaders is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a Culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. Preservation of one’s own Culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other Cultures

          ***In traditional West-African culture, villages were built around the Iroko Tree. The Iroko Tree is the Tree of life because within the shadow of the Iroko Tree there are over a 1000 species of living things living in perfect harmony. The effect of all these living things creating a balanced environment, is that the Iroko Tree is an inter-dimensional portal. Practically all these manners are methods of “conveying the divine effluence” from the Tree to the devoted people. In this way the supernatural being, which is connected with the sacred Tree, has the power to grant petitions.

***Slaves were branded according to the mark of the purchaser at the Tree of Forgetting. The name of the place, however, stems from the ritual of turning slaves around the tree to reinforce forgetfulness of their homes. Men were walked around the tree 9 times, and Women 7 times.

Afshin Mokhtari  = This will be an ongoing event, every 2nd and 4th of the month. The goal is to promote community through providing Artists = Dancers = Drummers from different traditions a place to mingle, play and share their art.

Ayi Edou  = In vodou, in haiti generally speaking, we have Papa loko who is the one who grant the Ason or Badjo. He is the one who Initiate the Ougan or Gangan, or Manbo. Great post like always.

Denise Douglas = Dear Yagbe,  It was such a pleasure to meet you in-person. You were very passionate and patient in teaching me the basics of traditional African music. For this, I am more motivated. You are like no other!



The Opele (Irere) consists of eight half-nuts of the Opele tree with convex/concave sides linked at regular intervals by short strands of chain & swivels at the ends. 
The Divnng Chains are made by Chief Yagbe Awolowo Onilu. The Divining Chain, which is about one foot to two feet long, usually consist of eight halves of Seed (Egbere) shells or Pods ( Agutan) joined together by sections of Brass Chain.
Various objects – including beads, cowries, shells, coins, buttons, rings, small bells, and bits of metal – are attached to the bottom of the pods at either end of the Chain.

Rhythm ensembleRhythms – Chants – Drumming from West Africa & Cuba
  • Mali (Bambara) = Guinee (Malinke) = Gambia (Mandinka) = DanXome (Fon) = Nigeria (Yoruba) = Ghana (Ewe & Asante)
  • West African Cuban Havana & Matanzas: (Lukumi, Bantu, Arara, Guiro, Bembe, Ijesha, Rumba, Abakua)


You Will Learn: Fundamentals of Rhythms = How to fabricate, upkeep, consecrate, and play your instrument =  Hidden aspects of the songs which originated from the holy Odu of Orunmila/Ifa.

I will work on engaging the participants using different approaches and the power of storytelling to communicate in memorable ways. Connecting with the participants in distilling coded messages.

Participants will practice answering questions clearly and briefly. This is a challenging form of distilling your message in different settings. This includes building physical confidence using role-playing to help the participants deliver their messages to their favorite…or least favorite… audience.

Chief Yagbe Awolowo Onilu continues to travel and hold seminars and workshops related to percussion, IFA, traditional songs and music of Africa and the African diaspora. Contact him directly to find out about his schedule, and how you can have him come to you or your community.

Secrets of the Calabash and Shekere

women of the calabash

Sacred Stories & Chants Of The Shekere & How To Fabricate & Consecrate The Shekere.

*** If you would like to learn the fundamentals of West African/Cuban Music & Culture through Sacred Stories- Rhythms  & Chants…     

Keep coming back to this page for updates about upcoming Seminars, Workshops, Classes..

    Contact Chief Yagbe Awolowo Onilu

E-mail:    Tel: (510) 632-9342

Hello Chief Yagbe! My name is Denise. But, please call me Necie. I’ve been taking shekere classes here in D.C. for a few months. My teachers are fabulous. I want to also have you as a teacher. Please provide me with your schedule. I love that you embed the creation story into your lessons. I’m also interested in traveling to Africa to gain more insight into shekeres. Can you tell me, which country in Africa first developed, i.e. created the shekere?