Lecture Series

This presentation will give the listener a glimpse of the Mande Culture of West Africa. In the tradition of the Mande, the history and culture is orally preserved in the minds and through the music of the Djeli (oral librarian/mandenka hereditary professional musicians). The establishment of the Mali Empire can be recalled and retold in the musical piece of the legendary Densoba (great warrior) Sunjata. This discussion explores the function of the Mande music and musical instruments, Mande class system, songs, ceremonies and stories. The discussion also examines the influence of West Africa on American culture and why the djembe was outlawed during slavery. Participants will learn about the djembe, its introduction by drummers like Babatunde Olatunji in 1950 and Ladji Camara from Guinea, and how it spread throughout America.