When Kelvin Kew, Vice President of Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy, Djembefola and extraordinary teacher called me to come to Beijing and Tokyo as crew for the upcoming China and Japan tour, I jumped at the opportunity to make it happen. Little did I know the surprises in store for us.
Beijing showed us how a structured learning process can really reach the masses. China already has 13 beginner djembe instructors spread across the expanse of the country and the djembe is spreading authentically, correctly (without confusion).
Japan is a different story altogether. The djembe is not new on this country. When Mamady came with Sewakan first in 1994, the people really made an impression on him and the rest is history. He returned many years after sowing the seeds of djembe and voila, the trees are bearing fruit today.
After two successful workshops and performances in Beijing and Tokyo we got the best gift from the grandmaster; to visit Mishima with him. For those who don’t know, Mishima is a very integral part of the TTM legacy. Mishima means ‘Three islands’ (Takeshima, Iojima and kuroshima). Located south of Kagoshima (the southernmost tip of Japan).
When Mamady came to Japan first, NHK, the national television network of Japan thought of this idea to bring Mamady to this quaint little island, where he would teach the children here Djembe Lessons and then they would go all over Japan to perform. This was made into a documentary film; and a very iconic one at that. The fruits of this project has led to Mishima today; where there is a school dedicated to the djembe where students local and international attention to study djembe.
This school is led by Ken Tokuda, director of TTMDA Mishima. Whenever a boat arrives at the dock, the sounds of djembe and dunun welcome the visitors. This is what I call true amalgamation of cultures. Mishima is a village, a VERY advanced village with water, electricity and wifi (so- from the Indian and African perspective- a city) that has a population of about 300 people. And this village has really embraced Mandingue traditions and culture while maintaining it’s Japanese traditions too. This is the future- where we truly live up to the name of our race – HUMANKIND, by being both.
Another piece of information is that I’m the first Indian on this island!! Considering how many of us there are on this planet I think that this is quite a feat. Hoorah for me!
Back to Mishima: The aim of the island is to bring more people here to learn to culture, work, study and learn djembe. Ken Tokuda, who runs TTM Mishima really has an important role to play in this regard. Hats off to you Ken san! Students come here and study for 6 months to a year. This is like an artist residency with access to amazing teachers like Mamady Keita, Famoudou Konate, Sewa Kan member Babara Bangoura and others; what a blessing.
We’re here to relax, spend time with our fearless master Mamady Keita, take countless Djembe Drum Lessons, take in some of the breathtaking sights and sounds here, learn some special, new rhythms and truly live, what I will now onward call, a djembe life!
Thank YOU Mamady Keita and team Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy for making this possible.
Come. Drum. Be. One