Dathliad Cymru-Affrica Update

Round up of our first summer of activity – Dathliad Cymru-Affrica 2022

This summer promoters and festivals across the UK struggled with long visa processing times causing delays to, and cancellations of, tours. Our project was similarly affected, however we were fortunate enough to be able to secure the presence of Fatoumata Kouyaté Djeliguinet just in time for a scheduled performance at the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron on August 6th 2022.  Djeliguinet delivered a beautiful solo instrumental performance on balafon and djembe on the folk stage, Ty Gwerin.

Next up was a mini festival day in partnership with The Welfare Ystradgynlais and Butetown Arts and Culture Association (BACA) on Thursday 11th August for an African Celebration Day, where Fatoumata and our very own N’famady Kouyaté (along with guest artists from around Wales and the UK) ran a dance and djembe workshop to a very enthusiastic and amazing audience, who got involved even in the very hot weather. There was Nigerian food, craft workshops for children and even a stage performance from Keith Murrell (BACA).  Our partners over at BACA (Butetown Arts and Culture Association) showcased their beautiful Dwndwr y Dŵr performance and in the evening Fatoumata ‘Djeliguinet’ ended the day with a bang, with a performance including two great dancers (Aida Diop and Salif Camara).  It really was a pleasure to see so many locals from Ystradgynlais and further afield come and join us in celebrating African dance and music.

The following week the team set off  to Green Man festival and two days of workshop provision at their Settlement site.  At this point we had an additional artist joining Fatoumata’s Troupe Djeliguinet – Ousmane Kouyaté originally from Guinea but now resident in Toulouse, France.  The response was amazing as you can see below from one of our West African djembe drumming workshops.

Next came a stripped back acoustic performance by Fatoumata Kouyaté Djeliguinet and Ousmane Kouyaté at the Grand Pavillion, Portcawl at the invitation of new partners The Awen Trust.  A lovely evening playing to visitors to the seafront before a bank holiday weekend of non-stop performances.

August bank holiday saw Troupe Djeliguinet head north first to Bethesda and Gruff Rhys’ Ara Deg festival in Neuadd Ogwen.  This live set was delivered by an explosive quartet where Fatoumata and Ousmane were paired with two artists resident in the UK providing support in the form of percussion and dance.  The footage below gives you a flavour of the night.

The following day the crew were at Pride Cymru with a mini-performance at the Deaf Pride Cymru tent in partnership with Deaf Wales Hub.  There was a lot of enthusiastic engagement with plenty of dancing and smiles all round.

The final grand performance of the tour was yet to come however and the next day a ‘super-group’ of West African master musicians and dancers came together to headline and close the Senedd Steps Stage at Butetown Carnival 2022 in Cardiff Bay.  This was a special night, as you can see from the footage below, and included a performance from a unique collaboration project Djeli and Bards – use this link to see more about this work.

Our last activities of the summer were primarily educational and/or community engagement.  We had women’s balafon sessions led by Fatoumata Kouyaté Djeliguinet where participants were already familiar with the instrument and had some proficiency.  The majority of attendees were based in Wales however we had two visitors from London who made the trip for such a rare opportunity of a masterclass.  We headed west one last time for Celtic Deaf Festival in Aberteifi delivering both djembe and dance workshops with the support of British Sign Language interpretation, and finally, before departing Wales, the troupe visited a Swansea primary school  to deliver a demonstration performance and each year group got to experience authentic West African dance workshops with live percussion.

The network/circuit of promoters, festivals, and venues interested in programming African arts has also been established with an initial invitation sent out, and now an open call for people to join (more info here on joining the network). We have had an amazing initial response and will be sharing ideas, opportunities, and potential plans for African arts programming in Wales and the UK via the network’s LinkedIn and Facebook groups.

Dathliad Cymru-Affrica partner logos and funder logo (Arts Council of Wales)