Gilded Serpent presents...

Memorial to Armando Mafufo

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.

Crystal and Armando

Hanya and Armando

Armando plays for Taka in 1977

Shelley Muzzy Photo of Uncle Mafufo playing for John Compton




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  1. Sierra

    Dec 8, 2012 - 07:12:54

    Beautiful story and eulogy on Armando.  I’ve known Armando since the early 70’s and he was everything you described.  Funny, giving, loving music and  playing for the dancers…he and Hanya were so generous in everything they did.  Armando was my very good friend and the loss is beyond words.  But he is an inspiration to how the relationship between musician and the music he loves and continues to play ,are, as welll as his relationship with other musicians and dancers…he played, he listened, he watched and he became part of the dynamic.

      Robaire and Armando shared a special bond, and often did Tabla Beledi jams together , what a wonderous sound that was, that went right into the heart and stirred the

      My love to you Uncle and friend…be at peace with the Universe and playing your heart out for John, Rashid and others that have been waiting to dance to your twinkling eyes, joyful smile and sound of the mother’s heartbeat!  Habibi!  To your amazing wife, friend and partner, and Nicky…all my love and condolenscences, know he has not truly left your side, his love will always be with you.    

  2. Juniper

    Dec 15, 2012 - 06:12:48

    Thanks for writing this, Crystal… We were so lucky to have him in Santa Cruz, he played drum for my first classes with Sahar as well.  Is it any wonder that the music and dance struck my soul? Besos desde California, !te extrano!

  3. Europa

    Dec 18, 2012 - 02:12:59

    Armando gave the best hugs ever, not to mention great smiles- justfound out he has left us,will have to think more about what to say, besides that he brought a lot of joy to so many of us

  4. Georgi Henrion

    Dec 19, 2012 - 09:12:40

    Nice eulogy for Armando. I met him years ago at Rakassah festival. Over the years the highlight of going to San Francisco was to have the joy of going up the stage for open dance to his drumming. I played hostess to him once while he was in Arizona for a show/workshop, after that he would remember my name when he would see me, (even though many years had gone by.) I will never forget his smile, kind heart and bear hugs! He will be missed. May he be drumming forever in Heaven!

  5. Sean Folsom

    Jan 15, 2014 - 09:01:49

    Thank You for this Memorial Page for Armando ! We were Friends for many years, and when I could, I hired Uncle Mafufo to play with me at some nice Paying Gigs which was great for all of us ! I found this web site by the photos of the whole Gang playing for John Compton at the 1986 Oakland Rakassah. John Loved to Dance to Mizmars so he gathered us up from the all the shops and booths to get HIGH on Music & Dance. Such A Great Time and Now a Golden Memory !!! Thank You for posting the Photos !!!
    Your Piper, Sean Folsom

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