Out of Africa
Featuring Doundounba & Kékélé

Date: 14 August 2004
: The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts

Reviewer: John Jane




Aboubacar Camara
For those who have found special enjoyment in listening to Paul Simon’s 1986 landmark Afro-pop recording, ‘Graceland’, that featured the exceptional guitar playing of Chikapa Phiri, this was truly a must-see event.

CBC’s Priya Ramu introduced Aboubacar Camara and his seven member ensemble, Doundounba on the ‘The Centre’s’ bare stage to perform West African amasumbou music - a homogenous mix of musical traditions - which included authentic Guinean rhythms and West African dance-driven melodies of the mandeng guitar.

The strength and spirit of Doundounba’s music stems from diverse musical styles. Songs like ‘Fanifan’ and ‘Tam Tam Kébando’ integrated the sounds of funk, calypso and a kind of ‘township jive’ that originated in South Africa. Camara, who apart from supplying lead vocals, played the balafon, a xylophone with wooden keys that creates a most unique resonance.

What a pity that the theatre’s sound system let him down. At times Camara’s voice was barely discernible. Although Chad McQuarrie’s electric jazz guitar and Peter Schmitt’s bass fortunately found a way past the inferior sound set-up.

Doundounba’s two female dancers and back-up singers provided a spellbinding focal point throughout the performance. Hassanatou Camara came to Canada from Guinea, where she danced professionally in two Guinean dance troupes, Ballet N'Tayiere and Cirque Baobab de Guinee. Allison Griffith has spent months in Guinea studying African dance, and recently traveled to Senegal to study 'Sabar' dance.





Kékélé, the all-male Congolese ensemble brought the curtain down on the14-day music festival with a performance as smooth as butter in the African sun. Congolese Rumba has been revitalized by these superstars, many of whom began their careers in the sixties.

Bumba Massa, Loko Massengo, Wuta mayi and Nyboma Dido

The band included guitars, accordion, percussion and a four part distinctive harmony that had the audience up and moving from the first song. Their Congolese national dress was as colourful as the performers that donned them, adding to the festive mood. The four singers, Bumba Massa, Loko Massengo, Wuta mayi and Nyboma Dido rotated lead vocals, offering a variation in tempo while the other three joined in harmony.

Their passion for the music was evident throughout the set which included songs like ‘Mondoyi’ and ‘Oyebi Bien’ which had the audience applauding with recognition. Rigo Star Bamundele and Syran Mbenza's dual lead guitars were are a revelation, and truly brought these Congolese rumbas to life.

This festival-closing concert was associated with Volunteer Appreciation Night, and those who donated their time ensuring the festival’s success were duly acknowledged. This contributed to the party atmosphere that prevailed throughout the evening.

© 2004, John Jane