I haven't been to Dundun Village. But I've seen some heavy competition among jembefola in Conakry that was kind of a drag, for me. But for others, it's completely normal and acceptable. It's a complex issue.
Last time I was in Guinea (07), I went to a show with Mbemba Bangoura. It was organized by Sekou Sano, in memory of his father, Kemoko Sano. The show was opened by Boka Junior, followed by a group that was described as Mbemba and friends, made up of Fode Lavia, Dartanyan, and several others. Lastly, Les Merveilles de Guinea performed one of Kemoko Sano's choreographies.
During Mbemba's set, a young jembefola from the neighborhood jumped onstage. Mbem played it cool, gave him a place in the lineup, and invited him to solo with the other guys. Now, this group has no dancers, so the entire show consists of jembe solo after jembe solo. But most of these guys don't really play much; it's mostly pantomime - and playing louder than the other guy. Lavia is an exception - he's a really talented jembe player, and not only does he hit hard, he stretches out a bit more and develops some music when he plays. Otherwise, it pretty quickly descends into a clowning contest, and the crowd loves it. Now, I don't have a problem with pantomime. It's part of the show, part of playing jembe and making people happy. That's when it's done artfully, with moderation. This young guy who jumped up onstage was all about it, in fact he had some pretty elaborate acts worked out that some of the other folas played along with.
OK, so what's the big deal, you ask? I'm getting there.
During all this, Mbemba is sitting back playing accompaniment. So he waits until it's his turn to step forward. Now, if you're familiar with Mbem's style, you know that he coaxes
the jembe. He's got a super sweet sound and phrasing, but not as loud as the young guys. So what does this punk do when Mbemba starts to solo? He's standing behind him, subtly mocking him. And he cuts him off. Mbemba's playing a nice solo, and the guy cuts in and jumps up front. And the crowd loves it. And I was saddened because here's a teacher, a Master in my view, who I respect immensely, and this young Guinean disrespects him. And everyone cheers.
Who am I to tell this guy to respect his elders? He's should know that on his own. But the competition has taken over. For some people, that's what it's all about. It's messed up.
"If you knock long enough, eventually the door will open."
Tasumakan - Djembe and Dunun Video Lessons