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Djembefola

Born in Guinea in 1950, Mamady Keita, one of the three greatest malinké drummers, was a soloist for 22 years in the famous national ballet Djoliba, founded by Sékou Touré. Today he lives in Belgium. After 26 years’ absence, he returns to his village amidst general exultation, festivities and emotion. An extraordinary testimony of authenticity and intensity.

We are directly plunged into the heart of Africa, in Upper Guinea, the cradle of age-old traditions. Our “djembefola” (djembe drum player) knows most of the three hundred malinké rhythms and their meaning. He is one of the last to have been initiated by village practice, unlike the percussionists formed in ballets. Harry Belafonte was fascinated by the child (nicknamed “He who was born for that”), then aged 17, and recruited him for his film Africa Dance. Based on an idea by Pierre Marcault (a djembe specialist and a former percussionist for Jacques Higelin), this documentary was shot live on the spot. There is nothing artificial or exotic in this film in which each scene is spontaneous, including the crucial one where the djembe virtuoso is reunited with his family.

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