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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

African cultural ambassador and talking drummer Ayan De First teaches us how to play the talking drum and talks about his journey as a musician into theatre, and how artists can collaborate with each other from different disciplines. In conversation with Tchiyiwe Chihana.

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Ayan De First is an African cultural Ambassador and the first premier talking drummer in Europe. He eats breathes and promotes African culture to a wider audience. A miracle child who could not start his primary education until the age of 9 years old due to illness and frequently passing out, was born to a family of drummers and performers. He started his career at the age of five performing with his dad and uncles. As his talent grew, it became apparent that he was destined to become a musician which was a dilemma as a science student. Ayan De First studied Contemporary Arts at Ori Olokun College of Art and later studied Drama Art at African Department Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife. In Britain he attended London College of Arts Camberwell and London School of Graphics, Elephant and Castle to broaden his talent.

A pioneer in many ways and a versatile artist, he broke boundaries when he became the first African Talking Drummer to perform for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Royal Family at Buckingham Palace, followed by another performance for HRH Prince Charles at St James’s Palace and in Croydon.

Apart from his appearances on numerous British TV Channels and on CNN as well as in Nigerian and British national and local newspapers, Ayan De First entered record books when he became the First African musician to have appeared and performed on Channel 4 ‘s programme ‘’Come Dine With Me’’ and has since benen interviewed several times on BBC Radio and FM.

He has performed at top venues such as Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Ronnie Scotts, Heathrow Airport, Somerset House and othersA DF has exhibited his visual arts across West African Countries before his arrival in Britain. His bad experience at Underground train station when he was kicked out of the station while busking fuelled him to make a strong decision to take his cultural Heritage to a higher level. He and has worked with over 500 private and community schools across UK promoting his culture and bringing the African culture to the West and next generation He is the CEO and founder of African Cultural Gala Night UK, Oduduwa Talking Drummers and ADF School of Arts and Culture. His theatre plays includes Tickets and Ties, The Secret Of Baba Segi’s Wives directed by Femi Elufowoju Junior and Iyalode Of Eti directed by Moji Kareem Elufowoju.

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