Cheikh Lo UK Tour – January 2011

The Senegalese star kicks off the new year in fine style with a trio of UK headline shows in January.

13th January, Scala, London

14th January, Band on the Wall, Manchester

15th January, Celtic Connections (Old Fruitmarket), Glasgow

Cheikh’s latest album ‘Jamm’ has been hailed by many critics as his best album yet:

#1 in World Music Chart Europe

#2 in Official UK World Music Album Chart

In Songlines Top 10 Albums of 2010

In fROOTS Top 10 Albums of 2010

“Reconfirms his position as one of the finest, most soulful singers in West Africa.” The Guardian ****

“never loses its groove. Classy stuff.” The Observer

“Senegal mystic in blistering form. African album of the year?” Uncut****

“Senegal’s premier pan-African always comes up with the goods.” MOJO****

For more information on Cheikh, including exclusive videos, image gallery, album artwork, tour dates and more visit www.cheikhlo.com

Stunning African Drum and Dance Calendar for 2011

Djembefola.com African muisc, drum and dance Calendar 2011

In case anyone missed it have launched our African Music Calendar for 2011. It’s a mostly oriented towards African drumming and dancing, but the shots are beautiful to appreciate in and of themselves, plus there was shots of Ngoni, Balafon and other things.

In fact I would say the general focus of the calendar is on people rather than instruments.

If you like what we do at djemebfola.com and you want to support us, this is your opportunity. In addition 30% of any profit will go to ‘Les Voies du Monde‘ who are based in Nice, France and are looking to build an art centre in Burkina Faso.

Please do help us to spread the world, and click here for more information or to buy a calendar yourself.

James

Mamady Keita relases Hakili a new CD / DVD

For anyone that missed it Mamady Keita and Sewa Kan has released a new album and DVD on the 21st of October. The album was released to mark 50 years of music. Mamady and Sewa Kan have been touring in Belgium for most of the last month (November). The final date on this tour is on the 5th of December in Tournai, Belgium.

I’m really surrised and disappointed that they haven’t come to France yet, but hopefully they will soon.

Mamady Keita Hakili album cover

If you’re lucky enough to be in the right country you can listen to this album right now on deezer.

It is not yet available on Spotify, but since the rest of his catalogue is, I guess it’s just a matter of time. For those of you who are continualy upset at not being able to access content because you are in the wrong country you might want to check out proxy services like those provided by Ace VPN.

Overall the album is a bit more melodic than Mamady’s previous albums.

The opening track Hakili, starts with a nice break and then all guns blazing, with plenty of balafon and Kora backing it up.

Then the second track, Saran Kenyi, surprises us with some saxophone action. Some traditionalists aren’t too happy about this, and there have been people complaining. I’m not too surprised, sinced it’s not the first time we’ve seen a saxophone on stage with Mamady. Who could forgot the “Lai lai ko” riff for djole on Mamady’s Mogabalu DVD. It doesn’t need to be said that Mamady can do what he wants anyway, and I’m glad that he’s happy to push a few boundaries.

I usually prefer live recordings of djembe music to studio albums, and I like that this album was recorded live. You really get a bit of a loose, live party feeling with this CD, compared to his previous studio albums.

There’s some spine chilling fluting on Sundjata Fasa, then it goes into some farely normal kora and then into a really familiar melody, though I don’t know the exact song. Then the song develops into some pretty Jeli type praise singing with a little call and response with the crowd. All this is backed up by some really nice balafon, flute and Kora.

Over all a really nice break from those noisy djembes that are always banging on 😉 until the last minute that is, when we are reminded that this is after a celebration of a djembefola.

The last track Matoto starts with a nice long break, and loads of great solos with really cool dunduns too. This may not be enough to appease some who wish the whole album was like this.

All in all, I like this CD, it’s very different to other Mamady cds, and I think I’ll be enjoying for a while to come. It nearly doesn’t seem fair to compare it to classics like Wassolon, but it’s certainly not likely to go down as a classic.

The DVD can only be bought as a part of a DVD cd box set at Cristal Records.
The album is available on iTunes and Amazon:

You can also get a real flavour of this concert here.

Why you should be add your djembe/dance class to djembefola.com

Promoting events is hard work. Letting people who may intetested know is time consuming and exhausting.

We believe that posting your event on djembefola.com is a very good use of your time and heres why:

Over 5000 djembe lovers visit the site every month. The event will appear on the page for your respective country and for each logged in member your event will also appear on their home page. We also email all users who have opted in with events in their country every month.

In addition all details of your event will automatically submitted to Google and we are usually the first result on Google (or close to it) for ‘djembe classes countryname’.

The event system will also automatically make a post to our forum where it can be discussed.

If you look at existing events you will that we automatically generate an “add to google calendar” button which allows visitors to add the details of your event straight into their calendar with one click.

So what do you need to do if you want to add your event? If you haven’t already created a free account, you can do so in 60 seconds.

Then go to the add event page and enter the details of you event.

This process is quick and easy.

We will do the rest.

If you have any questions or feedback please contact me.

Interview with M’Bemba Bangoura

While at the Won Na Won Malan conference in Chicago, Illinois, Paddy caught up with M’bemba Bangoura. Won Na Won Malan was hosted by Moustapha Bangoura, and there were many great drummers and dancers around.

M’Bembe gives us a better idea of who he is, his drumming background, experience and his drumming influences.

[FLOWPLAYER=http://djembefola.com/media/video/mbembebangoura/MBembaBangoura800.flv,600,338]

Djembe and African drumming tours in West Africa

There are many options available to you if you want to study drumming in Africa. It would be a tall order to list all of the available options, but we’ve put together a nice cross section of available options.

Whether you haven’t yet taken the trip to West Africa, or you have been dozens of times, we think you’ll find this selection interesting.

All of the tours listed here are offering a discount to anybody that mentions djembefola.com when they register.

Class with Akassa Cissoko in Casamance

Rhythm Power Ghana 2011

Simon in Melbourne has been running this great tour to Ghana for a few years now. Teachers will be master drumming Tuza and Adamane and Madou Keita from Burkina Faso.

Simon is offering a US$200 discount for people who mention djembefola.com when they book.

More information can be found on the event page for Rhythm Power Ghana 2011.

Mamady Keita in Guinea Conakry

This is probably one of the best known and most popular tours to Guinea every year. Monette and Mamady are offering a US$100 discount to people who mention Djembefola.com, when they register. This means that the course will cost $1850 instead of $1950.

Here is more details of the Mamady Keita drum camp.

Trip to Guinea with Bolokada Conde

Bolokada is offering housing, food, class and transport to the villages from Dec. 10 and ends Jan. 14. He is offering a discount of up to US$20 per week (so up to US$120) to people who mention djembefola.com when they register.

For more info check out the event page for Bolokada Conde’s trip to Guinea.

Seckou Keita in Senegal 2011

Seckou has been bringing students to Abene in Senegal for quite some time now. He puts enphasis on his workshop being for intermediate to advanced players. Chelima and Sekou are offering a £25 discount to people who mention djembefola.com.

Here is more information on Seckou Keita in Senegal in 2011.

Travel to Guinea with Bongo Sidibe and Joti Singh

This trip normally costs $500 per week. Joti and Bongo are offering a reduction $50 per week ($450 per Week). This means that 5 weeks will cost $2000 (not $2250).

More details on travelling to Guinea with Bongo Sidibe

Travel to Mali with Abdul Doumbia

This year Paddy and Otehlia Cassidy are organising a tour to Mali with Abdul Doumbia. If the amazing music of Mali is your thing, then be sure to have a closer look at this tour. Paddy and Abdoul are offering a $50 discount on to people who mention djembefola.com when they register.

Click here for more details.

Travel to Guinea with MBemba Bangoura, 2011

This tour to Guinea with M’bemba Bangoura is organised by Michael Markus. Michael and M’bemba are offering a US$25 discount to anyone who mentions djembefola.com when they register.

Click here for more details.

Cultural Study and Drum Tours to The Gambia, West Africa with King Marong

This tour is open to all people who are passionate about African music and culture. King is offering a US$20 discount to anyone who mentions djembefola.com while registering.

Click here for more details

Thinking about taking a trip? Be sure to check out our article on Studying drumming in West Africa, if you haven’t already done so.

Any questions, comments, criticisms? Maybe you’ve been to West Africa, and think I forgot to mention something? Let us know in the comments.

If you’re on Facebook and enjoyed this article, please do us a favour and ‘like it’ below.

Study Drumming in Africa

It is really quite common for djembe lovers to travel to West Africa between November and March. The weather tends to be best around this time of year and it coincides with the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are many options for those thinking about making the trip. Due to package tours, the cheapest flights are often found from London to Banjul, in The Gambia. Big operators like Air France also operate from Paris to the Ouagadougou, Bamako, Dakar and Conakry starting from about 700 euro.

There are several options available to you when embarking on such an adventure. By far the easiest option available to you is to go with one of several extremely well organised tours.

This is often a very good option for even the most ardent of seasoned, independent travellers. West Africa poses some unique challenges and can be overwhelming the first time you land and it’s easy enough to find yourself in tricky situations.

Paying rent and staying in a compound is definitely an option, but there can often be many unexpected surprises and additional expenses that you didn’t see coming. Likewise agreeing a price with a teacher has been known to not always be the end of the conversation.

This is often understandable when people circumstances or the situation is taken into account, but for some people this can become stressful.

Some feel that it’s easier to just go with a tour, that way you know exactly what you’re paying for and you can have a pretty good idea what to expect.

Going with a tour and usually a known teacher you benefit in many ways:

  1. Less stress – everything is generally organised for you, from airport transfers to food
  2. Local knowledge – The person will likely be able to give you good advice about tuition, buying instruments etc
  3. Performances – Tours visiting compound are usually an opportunity for local artists to perform and teach. As such you can usually look forward to an array or artists and plenty of friendly people around.
  4. Knowing what you’re paying for
  5. Less uncertainty, especially if this isn’t the first year of the tour.
Performance in Famoudou's house
Performance in Famoudou's house

If you decide that a tour is for you then there are many things to further consider. These include:

  • Group size – smaller is better. If the group will be split, which group are you going to be in and who’s going to be teaching it?
  • Food – if you are a fussy eater this may be a consideration for you. One of the benefits of an organised tour is not having to worry about food. You may end up worried anyway if you don’t take a liking to the food you’re getting though. I distinctly remember this being an issue for many people on a tour I was on in Guinea.

    Many tour operators specifically mention food and it’s worth asking about if you think could be something that concerns you.

  • The teacher – the styles of teaching and playing can vary hugely from teacher to teacher. Make sure you know the teacher or have at least spoken to somebody who have studied with them before.
  • Style – leading on from above you may want to consider the style of djembe you are interested in working on. There is a big difference between the way djembe is played in different countries in West Africa
  • Where – As with style, where you want to be is an extremely important consideration. Besides the obvious, it is worth considering if you would like to visit the villages or whether you would just be happy to stay in a capital.

    Many tours offer trips to the villages and these can be an amazing opportunity to see the culture in it’s traditional setting, and experience life in the village for a while.

  • Authenticity – some people have a preference to go to a source who will teach them original phrasing and parts. I can tell you that it is very different learning dundunbe from Famoudou Konate who’s from Hamana (where the rhythm is from) and learning it from Harouna Dembele from Burkina Faso. This may or may not be of concern to you.
  • Language – Most West African countries are ex-French colonies, so French is spoken by people there much more than English. This can be quite a barrier to getting to know local people, and it may be something to consider when you decide where you would like to go.

    The Gambia and Ghana are both English speaking, but neither is traditionally a djembe playing country. There is plenty of music and culture in these countries though. There are plenty of Guinean djembe players living in the Gambia, some tours to Ghana have been known to bring djembe teachers from Burkina Faso and other countries specifically for tours.

    Ghana itself has a fantastic culture of drumming of it’s own. From the Ewe drumming to the Kpanlogo of the Ga people.

If you’re interested in making the trip you have a wealth of options. From independent travel, to tours and even something quite in the middle, like the djembe hotel.

Be sure to check out our article on drumming study tours in Africa, which include a break down of some of the best djembe and drumming tours in Africa. We have also managed to negotiate quite a few serious discounts for people who book a tour and mention djembefola.com.

Any questions, comments, criticisms? Maybe you’ve been to West Africa, and think I forgot to mention something? Let us know in the comments.

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Mama Africa Festival 2010

I was debating whether or not to go the Mama Africa Festival for a few weeks and it was only when the deadline for workshop registration came around, that I actually pulled my finger out, panic’ed and booked as many workshops via text message that I could.

Sabar Dancer
A Senegalise Sabar Dancer

I live near Nice in the south of France, so a 4 hour Trip in Italy wasn’t going to be too difficult for me to manage, and it’s not every day that such talented teachers nad performars are in the same place at the same time, let alone so close by.

I planned to leave at 6:30 am, but waking up at 7:30, and jumping into the car in my pyjamas didn’t take away from the beatiful early morning light on the mediteranean landscapes. My first experience of Italian driving and trying to make my 11:30 Sidiki Camara workshop mean’t I woke up pretty quickly.

So here’s me an Irish Man, living in France driving through Italy looking for the drum and dance of Africa. There’s something very special about driving through forests and small Italian mountain villages, following big green Mama Africa signs and overtaking Fiats, and arriving way too easily to the thunder of drums and smiles of faces.

I had only missed perhaps half of Sidiki’s workshop, but managed to catch up on the first 3 solo phrases I had missed. I was really glad to have mostly made it, because Sidiki is a great / patient teacher with clear material.

After the class I wandered around a bit and found a nice quiet place to pitch my tent and met a couple of Senegalese and Italian neighbours.

Then I sat down to my first ever Harouna Dembele workshop. I was really excited, having seen a bit of Harouna and Parisi (his previous band) on you tube.

This particular workshop had been relocated to the main eating area (after rain the previous night) and there was plenty people around, including Dartagnan and his band. As such the workshop ended up being about 40% performance. He is certainly an extremely impressive player and there was plenty of whooping and crowd pleasing.

Harouna Dembele Solo, Mama Africa Festival from James Farrell on Vimeo.

Day 2 (Saturday)
I woke up early to make it to my 9:00am workshop with Harouna. I say early because I had spent some meeting the locals the night before… We learn’t Chologo, from Cote d’Ivoire, which I had never heard of before. I really sweet dundun melody with a spacious dundunba part.

With barely enought time to say ‘Alora’ and say ‘….un cafe late pour favouri’. I was off to the first
xasonka dunun workhop. I was “lucky” enough to to arrive in time to get a proper “Jeli dundun”, which meant I spent the next 2 hours trying desperately to do the bell in my hand, the Jeli dunun style.

I immediately made plans to arrive late the next day as the material itself was already crazy difficult without trying to figure out this damn fangled bell technique. Even with a normal bell, I would have struggled to pull some of the phrases off, and I would have considered myself to be a fairly competent dundun player before.

Not only that, I was bemused to find that I was probably one of the weakest dunun players in the whole class anyway! It was a level 2 (of 2 levels workshop), but dang them Italians can play!

That night an improptu dundunba re-inforced that thought, as I saw the best fote djembe playing I’ve ever seen….

I really felt like a child in a candy shop all weekend. There was the great classes taking place all day, with djembe players like Harouna Dembele and Sidiki Camara appearing out of nowhere to rip it up for the dancers.

My friend Enrica was equally in heaven as she did 5 hours of dance on Saturday, and why not, no better time for dancing with such amazing energy and music everywhere. I had never before seen a dance workshop that had a balafon and Harouna, and them Burkina calabash drums and 40 people playing Sangban.

The performance on Saturday night was pretty Epic, as a lot of the drum, dance, balafon, Kora and singing teachers came together to give a really strong performance.

They called themselves “Guinea”. I’m not clear how long they (and how many of them) played together before, indeed I’ve seen other videos calling them Wamali, but they seemed to be led by Dartagnan who plays with Ba Cissokho (previously Circus Baobab).

Plently of full on Guinea Style warra warra, on a beautiful stage, to a very appreciative crowd.

Untitled from James Farrell on Vimeo.

It’s a special thing to see so many people with a common passion come together to appreciate such a rich musical and artistic culture.

2 people from to different countries, neighter African, can come together, and even though they can’t understand each other by verbal communication, they can play diansa and connect in a way only this music can allow.

Thank you Mama Africa, I am sure a lot of volunteered time made the magic happen. May you double in size again next year, I’ll be there and you should be to!

ps – thanks to Raica for the amazing photos!

Transcription of Interview with Sidiki Camara

This is a transcript of an interview with Sidiki Camara, a Master djembefola, from Mali.

James
Hello it’s James here. I’m here in Italy with Sidiki Camera, from Mali.

Sidiki do you want to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself.

Sidiki
Yes, My name is Sidiki Camera, I come from Mali, originally from the South West of Mali. I’m a musician and I play percussion.

James
How old were you when you first started playing percussion.

Sidiki
The first time, I was very young. I started around 10, 11, 12, I started to play percussion.

James
What made you start to play. Did it run in your family or did you just start to play with your friends some day and you liked it,
or you had some kind of feeling that you wanted to play more?

Sidiki
It’s difficult for me to say exactly, where this came from, but 10 years ago I found out that my father was a drummer in the village.
I didn’t know that before. One day I went back to the village and people said to me, they are not suprised to see me play drums, your father
was a very big drummer in the village.

James
So it was inside you.

Sidiki
yes

James

So at some point you joined the ballet of Mali.

Sidiki
Yes

James
How old were you when you joined the ballet?

Sidiki
Before that I was playing for the school. We have some competitions between the differenct schools. In the school for eampl we have the part A, b C.
I was playing for my school frist and after that there was a competition between the citries in Bamako, and after that I was playing for the disctrict of BAmako.
There as a competition bbetween all the regions in Mali. THere was a competition was arranged once a year and everyone tries to find to good drummers to play with them.
At this moment they caled me and said they need me to come play solo in this competition. I was playing for the the ballet for the district of Mali.

James
and long were you playing for?

Sidiki
Many years, many years, but in 86, I stopped that, and I was in the national ballet after this.

James
ok, and with the national ballet did you travel aroudn Africa and the world.

Sidiki
Yes

James
all different Countries

Sidiki
Yes, I travelled a lot with the national ballet of MAli, I was soloist almost 10 years.

James
What was life like in the ballet. Did you do 6 hours of training a day

Sidiki
Yes, we were training every day from 9 o’clock until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and only the weekend we are free.
We were working and we have a salary from the government, because it is the national ballet we have a salary every month.
That was very nice to represent hte country.

James
sure

So there was a feeling for you and other people of pride to represent Mali.

James
Was it very competitive? Was there a good atmostphere?

Sidiki
It was not easy. The first time when you arrive the ballet, everyone is open to you, but you must learn all the details of the ballet.
All the number you have to do fo the show. You have to know all the movement of the dance, and then you come to be soloist.
If you don’t know all of this, then you must do accompaniment all the time.

James
How important is the drumming and the dance together?
In my experience as an Irish person who came to the djembe recently.
My experience is to learn in a workshop, maybe I can play with my friends and have a good time.
Perhaps to me the connection with the dancing isn’t there.

Sidiki
They are together. If we are talking about drumming, we are talking about dancing.
It’s not drumming without dancing and it’s not dancing without druming.
In Mali it is this way, and everybody has to know many different dances and play many different rhythms for that.
Before that, you need to learn with somebody and it takes a long time you have to be patient and to calm down and calm down and be patient.

James
So in order to be a great djembe player you have to know the dances and you have to know the moves.

Sidikik
You have to know the details of hte dance, how you manage to give the signal, to change to go to the second one, it’s a lot of work,
but we don’t have to think it’s hard work. It can be hard work, and easy. If you are interested, it’s coming to be easy.

James
So you’ve played with some of the greatest musicians in Mali and Guinea.
Is there any of these bands that you enjoyed playing with the most, or any that stick out in your mind more than others.

It’s always like this, it’s not to choose in the beginning, if you choose you have to have to choose the people who you don’t have problems to be with them.
I have played with many Malian stars and many European stars and American stars. I was playing a lot with them from Malian music, to Jazz music and blues and many different kinds of music.

James
You like Jazz music?

Sidiki
Yes I play all the time Jazz music

James
You play drum kit?

Sidiki
I play drum set.

James
Did you teach yourself?

Sidiki
In the beginning I learnt myself, I learnt very fast. Any kinds of music, I can learn very very quickly, and I was starting and was learning with somebody to develop more technique.
and one time I decided to stop playin the drum set, and I decided, I have to make something more traditional, and I was thinking about african drums, and many different
instrumtruments from africa, and to put something that could represtent drum set, and that was my creation.

James
So you have your own set up?

Sidiki
Yes I have my own drumset.

James
and do you use dunduns as well?

s
No not dundun, only djembe and 2 percussions from Ghana, called kpanlogo, I have 2 of these and djembe + calabash. It’s like a pumpkin, a big one. But I use only the half and I put
a mike inside and I have a symbol and chimes and a small egg and 2 sticks like this, and I have all things and I have tied bells on my feet to represent high-hat.
This is some technique I was developing and to adapt to many different types of music.
It can be blues, jazz reggae and any different kind of music I can have the possibility to use these kinds of instruments.

James
For Jazz music, do you see a difference in the people when they are playing the music,
I have seen some jazz recently at a festival in Nice and sometime the musicians are so good that it’s difficult to realise how good they are.
And sometimes when I look at it, I feel that they don’t even know that there is an audience you know.
They just play for themselves and there pleasure and then afterwards everybody claps and they only then realise ….
Where as to me African music is more encompassing.

S
It’s something I can say, people never see like this before and they never think that the sound is going to be like this, and that was my work.
To show people that african music can have a place everywhere. Every kind of music, it’s not only AFrican music that are using African instruments
and it’s like a European instruments, we don’t htink that its onlyh for Europeans. We need to move that in African music.

James
It’s very interesting because there’s such an interest in the Djembe around the world now, amongst everybody. Japanese people, German people,
I wonder where this will go. There are so many fantastic musicians for sure.

In your travels have you met any non-African djembe players that you were impressed with?

Sidiki
We have many good African drummers, that’s not a problem, but the thing is only to adapt. If everyone starts to think ok, I’m a drummer,
I have to do some different things to adapt the djembe for example to jazz music or the blues or classical music, for example country music, I can have possiblitiy in any kind of music.

James
So you wouldn’t have a problem with people using the djembe in any other kinds of music?

Sidiki
No I don’t.

The problem is only to know the way you are going to use the djembe, we need to see people respect the djembe.
there are amany peiple using the djembe who don’t respect the djmebe. If for example if you put one djembe here and one piano or for example violin and many people
can pass here, and everyone want to try the djembe, but they don’t want to try the piano.

They are not conscious to think about this instrument you have to repect it.

James
It’s a lot about education, isn’t it. Most people haven’t seen a djembe before, I would say. Even if people see djembe in the street, they see it played very badly
in my experience.

Do you think that speed is a lot to do with physical strengh or is it more technique or is it the 2.

For me, not really. For me to play djembe you don’t need to pay very, very, very fast. For example, if you play for the dance and you start to play slowly and build up your speed.
Coming to be not very fast, you have to be in the middle, and you can look at the movement of the dance to see it’s a very nice movement and they can go high. Their arm can go very high, but if you change the speed the go very fast.
The arm have to do that it comes only this high…. and that’s why many movements of the dance is changing and many phrases of djembe is changing it’s only about the speed, and this is something good.

people can see you can play very fast. And it’s one time to say “wow, that’s really, really, really fast, I’m really impressed to see that”, but the qualty is not there.

James
Yea ok, it can get boring I find

Sidiki
…but that does not mean that the people don’t play good. It’s different.

James
Do you think you’ve seen a change in the playing have gone in the last 20 recent years

Sidiki
It’s the generation. When we start to play we never played really fast like they play now, and I’m not old man but from the people now
I can say it’s not more than 20 years they play djembe, I can say it’s more than 30 years I play djembe. It’s something different in the generation; and it’s difficult to tel them, you need to calm down. It’s like you are telling them ok you don’t play good, you have to calm down, it’s a different way.

But if you go to the national ballet of Mali, still today they don’t play very fast and we have to keep the movement,
and it can be more nice movement and to see the feet to the head and everything can start from the beginning to the last part.

but now if you play very fast and the movement is only like htis , it’s almost jumping, jumping dance.

James
Why do you think they are playing faster? HAs you playing changed since when you were younger?

It was the same, the moment I started to play I never saw somone play very very very fast, like now. Everybody wants to play very fast to show themselves.

But if you don’t have this energy, it’s not possible to play at this speed.

It’s only that and it’s coming to be a competition between the young people. To say “I’m stronger than you” and it’s only that to say it’s kind of power.

They are young, they have a lot of energy and they need to show their biceps. It’s not bad, it means that the tradition has been through an evolution, but the most important thing is that they don’t forget
the basics, that everything started from the basics.

It they forget about the basics, they can say that they play djembe but they are doing something wrong.

James
Do you think that with many of the younger players, the way they have learn’t djembe is different to the way you learn’t djembe?

Sididki
Many don’t know the tradition. Many of them they don’t know the tradition. They learn from weddings and parties, they never ask to know why we play this rhythm. Why are we using this rhythm. They don’t know.
They don’t explain many details (James: when they are teaching) or maybe they can create somethings and then they have something to tell.

But we need to keep the tradition, for me it is like the tradition starts to die.

James
Are you aware that Mamady Keita has created this Tam Tam Manding School, he has this kind of institution….

Sidiki
Yes Mamady Keita has a school like this. I was making a school too for Malian culture.

James
When I talked to him about this, he said that the reason is because of what you’ve been talking about, that he saw this problem, that he kept coming across people that don’t have this knowledge, and this was one of the reasons he created the school,
to try to have some kind of control knowing if a person knows something.

Sidiki
Ya, but you know we are thinking differently. It’s a different thinking and different experience, he can think his part this way and I have my thinking too and this is something for me, it’s a real pity, to see the young people don’t protect the too much tradition. Evolution is ok, it’s very very nice, everybody needs to do new things and try new things, but the basics come from the tradition and if we don’t protect the tradition it’s coming to be a very big problem.
In 20 years time we don’t talk about African tradition, in percussion.

James
How important do you think it is for people with and interest in this music to travel to West Africa to experience the culture for themselves.

Sidiki
It’s very important. It’s not enough to learn African culture in Europe, it’s not enough. you have to go down there and to see how they manage to do the things and they need to know it’s not only the capital. You can learn some tradition in the capital, but it’s not enough people have to go to the village to see the life in the village, and you can understand more.
But in europe, here everything is easy, but if you go to Africa, you can see the diffence, the possibilities we have here, they don’t have there.
In the village life, you can see they live without electrity and in some place it’s difficult to find water.

If you go there, and you can see how they manage to find these kind of things. You start to realise the difference between people. And they are nice people and they are open to see people the new people are coming to them and they are
very happy and come more open to see ok we want to be with them and everybody say hello to everybody, you can say everybody knows everybody.
It’s not complicated, but the tradition from that and is coming very down.

James
In the village also, the tradition is coming down?

It the same way, the young People they don’t want to stay in the village, they want to go to the capital to have work and they go there, and they have never been in school and they don’t know many things and they come in the capital and it’s very hard to find a place to stay, and to find a job, it’s difficult to find something to eat, and what can you do. Maybe you are going to steel and have more problems and some people they start taking drugs and this is a great pity.

People can think to give help to the people from the village and give more motivation to them. You don’t need to go to the capital, you have to create something and to work in a different way and you can have more things and to stay, but it’s not easy.

James
So when you do your course in Mali…..you have a course in Mali?

Sidiki
Yes, I organise a workshop in Mali. I start in the capital.

Once week in the capital and in the second week we go to the village, and the people from my workshop, they can help the people in the village, buying the small things they want to sell and to have money and they have food, and people are bringing food and clothes and t-shirts they don’t need anymore.
You know in Europe people when they buy new t-shirts the old one, they throw it away.

But we need that and many people I talk to to keep and bring to them and share with everybody.

You can bring it for children, everything is welcome. It is help for them, they don’t get too much money and if they have to buy the food and the clothes, it’s not very easy.

And to build a school and bring more education.

James
So if people are interested in coming on your course, they can contact you. (James: See bottom of page for more information on contacting Sidiki).

Sidiki
I make a project, a very nice project to help my village.

James
It’s a charity?

Sidiki
It’s not a charity I want to help the village (James: more a project), by building a school. All children have to go school, for free, this is something very important. We want to provide medicine and a place that people can go for free

James
Thats good, it sounds like a great project

Ok, I think we should leave it there, you’re a great man and a great player and thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Sidiki
Thank you.

James: For more information on Sidiki’s course and his charity work for his village, check out his website.

Interview with Sidiki Camara

sidiki camara
Sidiki Camara

I caught up with Sidiki at the Mama Africa Festival, which took place from the 25th of July until the 1st of August near Mulazzo in Italy.

Sidiki Camera was the lead soloist for the Ballet of Mali for 11 years, so he has knows his way around a djembe and has seen some major changes in the way djembe is approached and played in the last 20 years.

We talked about these changes, djembe technique and Sidiki’s hopes for the future of djembe and more.

The Sabar starts about 30 seconds after we start the interview (it doesn’t last for the entire length of the video and we have done our best job on the sound to improve it’s quality). We apologise for the quality (it’s quite distracting at times), so if you’re having trouble you may like to check out the transcript for this interview.

[FLOWPLAYER=http://djembefola.com/media/video/sidiki/sidiki-camara-interview.flv,600,450]