The California East Bay has become a host for many incredible West African artists and cultural expressions. Drumming and dance Senegal and Guinea, for example, have captured the heart of many communities in this region. There are a variety of musical expressions, forms, and instruments that have been transplanted from West Africa to California. One is the Ilu-Sekere (shekere), what master artist Yagbe Onilu refers to as the first instrument from heaven.
Chief Yagbe Onilu serves as the Artistic Director of “Heritage – The Vision Continues,” A West African-Cuban music and dance ensemble dedicated to the study and performance of the rich heritage of West Africa, Cuba and other Caribbean islands. His love of African drum and percussion ensemble music started at a young age in Cayes, Haiti where he was born. He completed his early drumming apprenticeship in the shrines of Haiti as a child protégé. Chief Yagbe is among the most distinguished traditional culture bearers in the African Diaspora. He is dedicated to preserving African spirituality and culture through lectures, music, and spiritual counsel (divination).
In 2016 master artist Yagbe Onilu participated in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program guiding his apprentice Eloi Colette to the knowledge and ritual role in the tradition of Dahomey and Yoruba songs & Shekere.