Drummer, Teacher, Friend
by Crystal Silmi
posted December 7, 2012
I woke up early this morning and found an update on "Caring Bridge" concerning the health of Armando Mafufo. When the notifications first came several months ago that Armando was not in good health I was very concerned, but as time went on, his daughter Nina was posting very positive updates about his condition and so my heart has been somewhat at ease knowing he has been cheerful and seeming strong. I have spent time with him on a few occasions on my return home visits to California and all seemed well. Today’s notification literally knocked the wind out of me; it was an update informing us that my beloved friend of more than a decade had passed away.
Armando Mafufo, known to most of us in the music and dance community as "Uncle Mafufo" was, as someone posted today, "a man everyone loved." He was a person who could light up the room with his smile and radiated love.
I do not intend to write a biography about Uncle Mafufo, but I know his enchantment with Middle Eastern music happened over 30 years ago and he has been hot on the Middle Eastern music scene ever since. He has recorded several albums with songs commonly used by belly dancers worldwide and has been featured in several DVD’s. In addition he has been a sought out instructor internationally for his knowledge and expertise with the doumbek and frame drums.
My experience with Uncle Mafufo goes beyond his statistics and success. Armando was more than just a musician. He was an incredibly humble man who loved music and genuinely loved dancers. He would always tell me in detail what he appreciated about my dancing or my students dancing, or any dancing really. He used to come weekly to drum at my classes in Santa Cruz, California just for the pure enjoyment of playing music and being with dancers. He was there as I "took my first steps" onto the stage being the first drummer I ever did a live music show with and through the years that followed we became more than just drummer and dancer, we became friends. Armando taught me how to drum and had the patience of a saint for those students who couldn’t for the life of them differentiate a "dum" from a "tek".
Uncle Mafufo and his beautiful wife Hanya would invite me to their home and there you could see where his art extended beyond music. Between Hanya’s paintings and glorious gardening – Uncle Mafufo’s home seeps creativity. There are his drawings and metal work – they created beautiful jewelry and head pieces from silver and gold. In Armando and Hanya’s home you can see that this is a couple that lived and breathed life from an artistic perspective, absorbing the beauty in life and reproducing it with their own hands.
The departure of this great soul who inspired so many in his lifetime leaves a gap in the hearts of all who knew him. Armando was a person who illuminated his surroundings. To have known such a person is indeed a blessing. Remembering Uncle Mafufo should enable us some self reflection. What will our legacy as humans be? We should all aspire to such greatness that came natural to Armando – to love, support, encourage and inspire one another to reach our greatest potential as artists and as human beings.
Uncle Mafufo will rest forever in my heart and those of all who knew him. May he rest forever in love and in peace.
Ready for more?
- 10-27-00 Tribal Tales
The moods and flavors of the varied songs on this CD are sure to be useful for dancers and listeners who like something out of the ordinary to challenge and delight.
- 12-12-00 Armando’s Drumming Dazzles the Dancer
Video review of "Uncle Mafufo’s Riqs & Defs: a practical approach to Middle Eastern Frame Drums"
- 3-15-03 Review and Rating of 2002’S MIDDLE EASTERN DRUM CD/TAPES
This is a review of eight of the most popular Middle Eastern Drum recordings produced this year. Incuding works by Reda, Susu, H Ramsy, Zaid, Mafufo, and more…
- 10-1-02 "Zig n Zag", a Music Review
All of the instruments used for this recording are acoustic, providing a warm and genuine sound; nothing is looped, sampled or synthesized.
- 11-18-11 A Gilded Serpent Time Capsule Presentation, Rakkasah 1984 and 1986 (25 years ago) Photos by Lynette Harris
While taking a nostalgic look through my photo albums recently, I realized that if I was ever going to share these photos, I had better go ahead and scan them into the computer now before they deteriorate even more than they already have. Yes, they are discolored and blurred, but I think they will be of some value to those who pay attentions to costume styles or those who were there and simply enjoy re-visiting the memories
- 10-15-12 Memorial to John Compton
Please add your comments and send in your photos for posting on this page. Thanks!
- 10-31-12 Making Superstars out of Top Dancers, BDSS Tour 2012
From the beginning, the Bellydance Superstars troupe has had the great fortune to attract the top dancers in the field even though, at first, we were criticized within the bellydance community for “having no stars”; so how dare we call the troupe the Bellydance Superstars?
- 10-27-12 In Sharp Contrast, Dancing in Lebanon and the US
Lebanon has something called “super night clubs" which are, basically, strip bars or cabarets. The term “nightclub” can be misunderstood easily–so it is best to tell them that you work at a 5-star place and not a cabaret.
- 10-17-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 6: Separate Community? Burlesque?
Kajira believes that the Tribal community is bigger and more successful than the rest of the belly dance community. "We wish we could be accepted as a sister dancer form… As Artemis said, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to look." Burlesque is a separate art form.
- 10-17-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 5: Term Tribal
Using the Term “Tribal”, The Modern Primitive Movement. Artists will fuse anything which is ok. What if we said “American Style Flamenco”? Morocco made this name up. Middle Eastern people get a feeling of “home” when they see tribal style. This is because we use authentic textiles and don’t use Hollywood fantasy. Doesn’t American Tribal sound like Native American? Modern Primitive Movement included tattoos, piercings, colored hair, alternative lifestyles. The hippy movement started the look of anything exotic being cool. Salimpour…
- 10-16-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 4: Rise of Tribal Fusion ,
The Rise of Tribal Fusion. New terms- Spontaneous Group Improvisation, International or Improvisation Tribal Style. "Tribal Fest chronicles the rise of Tribal Fusion." Tribaret. No codification in our dances. Big difference betweem Tribal Fusion and Cabaret– Isolations, torso, arm movements. Kajira became certified in Rachel Brice’s format. ATS is a subset of Spontanteous Group Improv.
- 10-16-12 Kajira and Chuck Interview, Cultural Appropriation or Artistic Freedom? Part 3: Not MED
Not MED, Misappropriation of the Rom culture, Ostracizing of Tribal. Find reference in Tribal Bible for time stamp 2:30. We found it- Page 215 at the top, "The parallels between the struggle of the Roma and that of bellydancers is undeniable. Both groups are fighting to gain respect and move away from social prejudice." This point is addressed in the review of the book.