Told not to drum, this woman is breaking a centuries-old taboo

Editor’s Note: CNN is committed to covering gender inequality wherever it occurs in the world. This tale is an example of As Equals, a year-long series.

Arusha, Tanzania — Kasiva Mutua carefully unpacks her drums, placing them on the paving stones of a courtyard.

Shaded by a tree from Tanzania’s harsh midday sun she resolves, cross-legged behind them.

As she starts to play her eyes close as she loses herself in the rhythm.

This is a defiant act in Mutua’s native Kenya, where it’s taboo for women to drum.

But for the renowned percussionist, drumming has never been about sexuality or gender — even if “its all for” the ones who tried to stop her.

“There’s been a ton of problems I’ve faced as a female percussionist, ” she tells CNN. “But hey, I’m here, I’m super happy, you have no idea. I feel so good when I play the drums, it elevates me.”

The Kenyan drummer breaking a centuries-old taboo

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