Study trip Burkina Faso - Paul Nas
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Atelier Youssouf Keïta

Study trip Burkina Faso

Also this year I did a study trip Burkina Faso again in January. It is fantastic to be busy with the balafon every year for two weeks at a very pleasant temperature. This year Anja and Hans accompanied me and the three us, we have learned a lot and experienced beautiful things. I had agreed with my teacher in Bobo Dioulasso; Youssouf Keïta for 10 days, but he also had a wedding in Niamey, Niger where he had to perform at a wedding. That is why we had the first days of lessons from his friend and colleague griot Haruna Dembele.

To ‘La Pailotte’

On the afternoon we arrived in Bobo, the neighbor beside of the yard of the Hotel Zion unexpectedly passed away. Soon, dozens of people came along to express their condolences. In the yard of Zion we occasionally heard that there was heartbreaking whining, which sometimes turned into a lamentation. Out of respect for the neighbors, we decided to follow our lessons elsewhere in the first days. Haruna took us to the Hotel of his brother: Hotel ‘Dia Eden la Pailotte’.

Recording lament:
Haruna Dembele
Old master visiting

With Haruna we have studied two beautiful pieces; Douga – Koko and Sian Wa. Old pieces with a nice tradition. Balafon pieces that may never have been recorded before. Haruna has proved to be a thorough and patient teacher for Anja, Hans and me. I myself already had lessons from him at a workshop at Schiermonnikoog at Djembé Dramé and already knew that it was a fantastic teacher.

An old balafoon player from the area was drawn by the sound of our practice of a song that he also used to play. He could not resist the temptation to take hold of the sticks. It clearly gave him a lot of fun!

Douga - Koko
Hakiri’s school fund

From Hakiri Koïta we received balafon lessons and N’Goni lessons in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Shortly after the last workshop with him, he had a cerebral infarction and was paralyzed half-sided. No longer playing a balafon or N’Goni, no longer weaving, exercising his other profession. A great musician is so lost and his life has become rather vanishing. Youssouf tries to help him and his family. With the livelihood and what else is possible. From the Netherlands, a supplement to this was created through our balafon network: A school fund for his children. From family and friends of Anja and me, enough money has been collected and given to pay the school fees for his 5 children in the coming years. We went to Hakiri with the three of us to make the fund known and to transfer the school fees for the current year.


Hans had brought 12 written off laptops of his employer, the municipality of Onderdevenen, for a good cause. To give away? To who? We thought of something for a school? But in view of the way in which this is organized, we chose a gift to Youssouf in consultation with our local contacts, which he made available to a Cyber-café, which then offers (in addition to use for the Cybercafé) with a discount for (poorer ) school children away from the cyber café.

10 days of lessons

… and besides that also experienced and organized a few things. Had wonderful lessons from Haruna and Youssouf Keïta. A beer drunk in a ‘Cabaret’, a café-on-the-corner: and there also played balafon. Family visit at Moumouni, Hakiri and Youssouf. At the farewell evening we played four of the newly learned songs. Then the ‘real’ balafola started and we enjoyed a great performance by our teachers with their family and friends musicians.

Paul Nas
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