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Drummers from faraway lands: students from Honduras, Mexico and Nigeria participating in Donostia’s Tamborrada


Desmond Moru (Nigeria), Mariada Acedo (Mexico) and Francisco Velázquez (Honduras), will participate tomorrow in Donostia’s Tamborrada (photoAmanda Cortés-DV)
Desmond Moru (Nigeria), Mariada Acedo (Mexico) and Francisco Velázquez (Honduras), will participate tomorrow in Donostia’s Tamborrada (photoAmanda Cortés-DV)


The Donostia Tamborrada is no longer just for locals.  Every year more drummers from other countries hold their own Tamborrada’s or participate in the one in Donostia.  At the Tamborrada at Tecnun students from Honduras, Mexico and Nigeria will parade.  Report in El Diario Vasco by Dani Soriazu and Garazi Rezabal. 

Dani Soriazu / Garazi Rezabal. None of them knew what the Tamborrada was when they arrived in Donostia.  And now, they can’t imagine a January 20th without Sarriegi’s marches; it gives them goosebumps.  Francisco, Mariana and Desmond are students at Tecnun who are from different part so the world, and as much as they try, they are not capable of communicating to their friends back home that “this day is 24 hours of playing drums.” This Saturday they will experience the complete festival package playing the Tamborrada at the university.  Their smiles hide a certain nervousness before their debut tomorrow “it will be unforgettable,” ensure the three.

“I remember my first year and people telling me about San Sebastian Day.  I imagined it as begin impressive, but what I experienced surpassed that,” Francisco Velazquez said.  He is an engineering student and is 21 years old who left his home in Honduras four years ago to pursue a degree in Donostia.  Mariana Acedo is doing the same thing.  She is from Mexico and is 23 and came to Donostia in 2013 to pursue a dual degree in biomedical engineering and mechanics.  She spent her first years with an authentic Donostia family who shared their fervor for the festival with her.  “The youngest daughter participated in the children’s Tamborrada and so in November they were already getting costumes and drums ready and starting to practice,” she explained.  On January 19th, despite the rain, she went to the Constitution Plaza with some friends to see what they were talking so much about.  “When midnight struck and I saw the atmosphere, great groups of families, and friends enjoying themselves and singing.  My feet left the group and I didn’t shut up because the wave of people carried me and the sound of the drums entered my core.  I got goosebumps.  It is something that is experiences that can’t be explained in words,” she added.

Desmond Moru is the oldest of the group and has been in Donostia for the shortest time.  He is 34 and is from Nigeria.  He has completed his second course in Tecnun working on his thesis on “Machine Vision and Robotics.” “I loved everything that I saw last year during the festival.  At night, tin the morning watching the kids, all the color, and people enjoying themselves…,” he said.  This has little or nothing to do with celebrations in their respective countries, although here they also move to the rhythm of percussion instruments and dance “but in a more African style,” he added smiling.

“It is a difficult celebration to explain, you have to experience it; it’s not just 24 hours of playing a drum”

Absolute Concentration

Our three protagonists will participate in the Tecnun Tamborrada and playing the Sarriegi Marches to the rhythm of the drums and barrels is something that fills them with much excitement but also with great respect at the same time.  Francisco will be a soldier.  “Last year when I saw them, I fell in love with the uniform and I said I will be that next year,” he said.  And so he will.  He has been practicing hard “because this is a foreign tradition and I feel like I can’t disappoint, I need to learn it well.”  Mariana, will be a water carrier, nods and adds that “it is one thing to hear the marches, and another is to learn them well.  Even learning stick techniques!” she says between smiles.  And Desmond points out that “it will be a huge opportunity to share, enjoy, support, grow and learn with the festivities.”

Their Tamborrada will begin tomorrow at 15:45 and until 19:30 will parade through Antiguo, traveling from and to the University.  But today, these three students along with their friends will begin to enjoy the festivities with a good dinner organized by Tecnun that includes ensaladilla rusa with shrimp, homemade seafood cream with sautéed prawns beef in port wine sauce with Gouda cheese, and cream puffs for dessert.  “It will be a good deposit before the celebration,” the three added smiling.  They know they are in for a big day.   For Mariana this will be the culmination of her stay in Donostia since she is in her last semester.  Francisco and Desmond still have some time.  In any case, the memory of January 20, 2018 will be forever engraved in their memories.

 (published on 01-19-2018 in El Diario Vasco)

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