I met a guy who was afraid of the talking drum. Whenever anyone tried to play it around him, he would bolt in the opposite direction, yelling, “Don’t make joke!” I understand completely. With swift thumps of a stick, mellow vibrations emanate from the drum and remind me of a dearly departed ancestor I’d rather not have a conversation with. Play the drum fast and it sounds as if you’re being chased at full speed down some dark road at night. Plus, I hear, drums are good hangout spots for spirits. On the last day of Kankouran West African Dance Company’s “17th Annual Conference and Concerts 2000,” instructors Magatte Fall, Raymond Sylla, Assane Kouyate, Ousseynou Kouyate, and Babacar N’Diaye will lead tama—or talking-drum—and djembe dance workshops at 10 a.m. at the Howard University Gym, 6th and Girard Streets NW. $16. (202) 659-9000. (Ayesha Morris)