Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: africa
Friday, 23 September 2011 09:59

Djembe drumming across boundaries

An interview with Karamoko Camara

“They are very surprised, when people hear Taiwan, they only hear the name, and they cannot think how I came to be here.” Karamoko, or Moko as he is familiarly known, told us how people in his own country, Guinea, responded when they heard Moko was going to Taiwan.

“But you know, music has no boundaries. Music can make two countries friends. Music can pull so many people together.” He said in a firm but passionate tone.

Karamoko Camara is a master of African drumming and dance from Guinea, in West Africa. When people hear African drums, it often brings to mind the image of a crowd of people playing drums with their bare hands in a circle. “Djembe” is the most well-known kind of West African hand drum, which is played outdoors. He lived for almost eleven years in Japan, teaching and playing African music. This made him a cultural ambassador for West Africa.

“African music is powerful; you cannot play slowly, when you are happy, you play your happiness with the sound of your drums. Some people think it is too loud but it is the tradition. Our ways are our life. When you play in a happy way you can see the audience is happy also. In the local village, we play to celebrate a birth or as part of a ceremony, such as rainmaking.” He added.

He could not be happier that his host family plays Djembe as well, since he cannot live one week without touching drums. His host father, Sun Dafu (Daouda) is not only an enthusiast of African drums but also established the “African Culture and Art Association” in Taiwan. He teaches and organizes different workshops of African music and dance around Taiwan.

Moko noticed the differences in how people in Japan and Taiwan accept African music. He thinks Taiwanese are more receptive to it. In the countryside, even if the event was held in a little restaurant, people would make the effort to come and see him perform. People in Taiwan are more open than in Japan. “If you are lucky, you can find audiences who like African music, sometimes you discover that it is not to everybody’s taste.”


Watch Moko's performance at the Homestay closing banquet

Published in
Focus: SayTaiwan

Wednesday, 22 April 2009 23:31

Blood river train

When time works against us
and weighs at the heart
somewhere in a foreign land,
night turns to day, and
the fashion in shop windows
I pass on my way from work
in Paris, London or New York
where I live into djellabas, the smell
of restaurants into kuskus
on market day,
hands out, stretched
to accept this gift of walking
in the shadow of African people,
with their fear of anchored boats
on coastal fronts. History
is in the present. On
a young night that is day
I go inland where spear fights musket,
and I join the battle on the river
that filled with blood, our phagocyte
impi sieging their laager in anger.
On the metro of the morning,
Le Monde in my hands and
work on my mind, there’s always
a part of Africa that yearns
for me, for my presence, my flesh,
beyond the clatter of the train
needling beneath the capital
into the reconciliation of our time,
before the evening of my days.


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