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This Image of Bi Kidude


I have never seen a woman ride a drum before, like a goddess rides a tiger…I have never seen an artist / male or female / anywhere across the world / own her instrument / like it grew out of her belly / like it was welded to her thighs. — Shailja Patel.

Where does one conjure the words to describe this image of Bi Kidude? How does one write of how she looks right into the sun’s eye, threatening it with the fire in her mouth?

How does one write about Bi Kidude?

Those who have been bold enough to write of her refer to her as a fast-talking, chain-smoking, rebel-rocker, ageless and endless. Andy Jones, a UK filmmaker and personal friend of Bi Kidude who collected footage of her before her death in April 2013 and turned it into a feature film, “As Old as My Tongue,” describes her as a force of nature with a bone crushing handshake and a fierce wit, a singer who somehow sounded like a cross between Bob Dylan and Nina Simone, and a percussionist whose conga drum was bigger than her.

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