We are tired because we have done a lot – we played from the beginning to the end of the revolution.
I have played for 50 years, and him (Famoudou) for 60! We must congratulate our elder, Famoudou, because it’s his (??) that has given us the path. Now everyone gives courses in Guinea but it was Famoudou who started it, and his little brother Mamady after that.
Thanks to all the foreigners here today. I think everyone will understand that we have seen colonialism here. We have seen whites come here and colonise us. We have played for them. We have carried them on our backs. We have played in the blazing sun. We have played not because we loved the djembe but because we had to.
Today it’s the same whites that come to Africa; arrive at the airport and get mobbed by a million mosquitoes. They’ve accepted that to come back here. They’ve accepted to sleep like us. They’ve accepted to eat like us. They’ve accepted the sun like us. They’ve accepted the heat like us. They’ve accepted the dust like us. They’ve accepted everything. Are we (whites who are here today) here to colonise?
All nationalities here from elsewhere who are not Guinean: I thank you in the name of my big brother (Famoudou).
The culture is not for one person. The culture must be shared. Note that djembe is not a border (something that divides). Dance is not a border. Culture is not a border. Tradition is not a border. The border is mentality.
Today we are in the process of removing the (??) for our children. Remove all the dirt so our children can continue the path. But to continue the path for our children you need advice from us. I need our advice.
Take the time to come and sit next to an elder who will tell you about life. Who will tell you the history of the djembe. Who will tell you the history of the dance. Who will tell you the history of the tradition. Who will tell you the history of the culture. That’s why we can be replaced.
To replace us does not mean to play good solo. To replace us is not about a nice smile or good words….it’s the work! It’s to know why this rhythm is played. Why do we play Dja? Why do we play Dibon? Why do we play Konkoba? Why do we play Senefoli? Why do we play Sobuninkun? Why do we play Fankani? Why do we play Djabara?
You must seek to know why. Playing djembe is different – you might be an amazing, incredible djembe player but you also need to know the history of the djembe so you can pass it on to our friends from Europe, from the USA, from everywhere.
Every rhythm has its own name and its own history. Every dance has its own name and its own history that has formed the traditional popular rhythm that women have created. It’s the women that created this before the djembe was born: When a child is born the women come and start to dance and play. When the moon was full it was the women who came to sing and dance. And this was when the djembe wasn’t even born!
It’s in the hands of women that rhythm is born.
But why don’t women play djembe here? It is not forbidden. The first person to make it happen is right here (Famoudou) that god has given (?????)
Because the women have said, ‘Listen you men: we organise the fetes, we clap our hands, we sing, we dance…….you play djembe!
The djembe doesn’t know about dance or gender. It doesn’t know about colour. If you are a woman you can play djembe. If you are young you can play djembe. There is no age. If you are 100 and your hands can move you can play djembe. There is no age.
Everyone can play but – you need to learn. You must have the courage to learn. And so I say too the youth: May God give you long life. May God give you good health. May God give you understanding. May God give you strength. May God give whatever we have looked for and not yet found.
To the foreigners here I say to you: Here we say that the foreigner is the king. That’s a saying here. If a stranger arrives in your village he is the king. You become like an egg: if it falls it breaks. So you are the (??) of us.
So if you come here don’t just dance, or play the djembe or dunduns. Ask of the old women who are there, ‘what is a tradition?’
It’s the women who know how to respond to women.
We men know how to respond to men.
Here the men have their place and the women have their place. Everyone maintains their place and everyone respects each other.
That’s the tradition.