The drums of the rebellion of the Tupujume Tribe

They work like a tribe. And that Alcalá de Henares has little, almost nothing, of savannah. And much less of Amazon jungle. They are the Tupujume Tribe, an acronym for “you can do it, together we can do it better”. They dress alike, have a war cry and beat their drums to rebel against prejudice. “Being part of this gives them self-esteem, they lose their shame, they believe they are something more than what they think they are,” explains Jesús Manuel Soria, the president of this association from Alcalá, proudly.

They arrive at the Juan Carlos I Park in Madrid – the place where they usually hold meetings and picnics – in several vans. This batucada group is made up of fifty people. The oldest, Juan Antonio, is 52 years old. The youngest, Taha, is 14. “They all have some kind of disability: Down’s Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Autism, Non-affiliated Etiology…, but from the beginning I set a condition: that any boy who wanted to play in the batucada, no matter what difficulties he had, could play”, adds Jesús.

Very few of them had any musical knowledge, but thanks to the theory classes and rehearsals, they get better every day. They started playing simply with drumsticks on “pilates mats cut into discs” to practice and not make noise in the small premises of the association. And although they have only been together for a few months, they have already given three live performances: “In the festivities of District III in Alcalá de Henares, in Pinto at a batucada gathering and last Saturday at a wedding. The latter was incredible, the best, they did very well.

Rhythms that integrate

Music can be therapeutic for people with intellectual disabilities. According to experts, it improves interpersonal relationships and motor skills, enhances creativity and motivation and develops the capacity for self-expression: “The case of Andrés is very striking… He has a maturational delay and before he was very introverted, he hardly approached you, but he has evolved a lot, now he is able to play in front of a lot of people”.

When led by Merka, one of the monitors, they take his drum… the members of the Tupujume Tribe are completely transformed. With it they rebel, overcome and make noise to show that they, even if they are different, can go as far as they want: “He teaches usn more than we can teach them,” Jesus concludes.

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