Negunya in the Meevaart - Blog - Paul Nas, Balafon passion!
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Negunya Meevaart

Negunya in the Meevaart

Dutch French

On 7 December, there was a performance by Negunya at the Meevaart in Amsterdam. The balafon base for Negunya is the teaching group Amstelveen (later became Uithoorn). The composition this time consisted of Yvonne, Winnie, Ingrid, Inger, Ineke, Hans, Bas and myself. In the weeks before, we practised well several times with the programme we wanted to perform and confidently travelled to Amsterdam to the Community Centre for our performance of Negunya in ‘The Meevaart’ in the Indische buurt.t.

Volunteer evening

It turned out to be a busy evening in De Meevaart! There was also a volunteer party that evening, where all volunteers from the Community Center were invited to have a bite to eat together. There was a large variety of meals and snacks prepared by some of the volunteers. The food was a beautiful reflection of the mishmash volunteers present. It was a lot of fun and I thought that if I were to live in this neighborhood, I would immediately call in as a volunteer! The preparation of these meals in the kitchen of the center meant that the normal neighborhood restaurant was not open that evening.


The meal that the organization had devised for us prior to our performance did not exist! A misunderstanding that was quickly resolved: ‘There would be enough food for the volunteers so that we could eat well with his eight’. For us a great opportunity but it meant that we had to wait until the others had picked up their meal and we would certainly start an hour later as was foreseen. But that was not a problem either and we decided to ‘let go’ and enjoy the meal and see how it went.

Technical stuff

Negunya has little experience with the technique for amplifying balafones and N’Goni’s with vocals and percussion. but fortunately there was Hans volunteer available who would help us. He works as a volunteer for the monthly activity ‘De Jampot’ of which we formed part that evening. We got three microphones at our disposal and discussed what wisdom would be. Given the size of the room, we decided to only strengthen the vocals and the chats in between; the rest should be able to go without …?

The Fans

After dinner we made a call in the party room and then we could start! Meanwhile some of the fans of Negunya had also reported. Colleagues from Bas’s work, but also friends and acquaintances were arriving. They had heard or seen in my recent newsletter that we were going to play in the Meevaart.


Yvonne and I had coordinated who would do which chats in between. I was allowed to kick off with the familiar introduction of Awa Dabole. ‘Imagine if you are in a West African village and the village calls for the party (Awa) to start waking up (Dabolé)’. It is a nice start number in which all musicians were also introduced. Then ‘Bo Yaro’ was played with a seamless transition by Winnie and Ineke. Yvonne then introduced the following two songs: ‘Yaro le Wa Ve Fio’ (a song to support the work on land) and the N’Goni song by Winnie and Bas. The audiance was singing along great! The last number was ‘Senalé Malin’; a combination in which Djembé and ‘breaks’ were played by Bas. (Nice spectacular, said a fan afterwards).


During the whole performance there was a nice steady accompaniment by my balafon students Ingrid, Inger, Hans, Winnie and Yvonne. The percussion of Ineke was varied and fixed (on sicco, sabar, karandjan and sangban!). It was a fun performance and from the organization we received the compliment of a ‘professional image’of Negunya in the Meevaart. That was nice to hear and that, besides our interpretation, was of course also due to the beautiful ‘Negunya costumes’! After us there was another gig under the ‘Jam-pot’ where people were given the opportunity to play on their instrument. There was enthusiasm about our performance within our group and we have decided to come forward more often with this program.

(Hou het in de gaten!)

Awa Dabolé
Yaro Le Wa Ve Fio
Senalé Malin
Paul Nas
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