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Festival de Guinée
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Guinea Story
1. Land of Contrasts
2. Kindia, Mamou,
3. Labe, Mali Ville .
4. Slave Route..
5. Summary:
6. Festival

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By Gall Wein
Throughout the ages and around the globe, drumming has been used for communication, entertainment, and prayer. That is especially true for the Rastafarians who performed at this year's Sacred Music Festival in Jerusalem.
If you haven’t heard of Nyabinghi drumming, you are not alone. It is sacred music, played as a communal meditative practice in the Rastafarian religion of Jamaica, and rarely performed in public.

As Jamaican reggae star Vivien Jones explains, it is a centuries-old link between the Caribbean and Africa.

“That's been in Jamaica since we were taken there as slaves," Jones said. "Slave master used to bang the drums. So the drums were there from the time we landed on that island, the drums were being played. So it was African drumming … all the way from ancient Ethiopia. All it did was it traveled in a slave ship to Jamaica and then it bloomed and blossomed again in Jamaica.”
It is a form of music passed down from generation to generation. Drummer Bonjo Iyapingi Noah started early.

"I grew up playing within the church," he said. "Before the elders would come up and play, we the children we have to play. We learn this all from the elders. The elders sit us down and they teach us what to sing.”

Bonjo plays with Drums of Defiance, a band of Jamaican musicians based in London. He says that although this is sacred music, the band is now beginning to perform it in public to spread the teachings of the Rastafarians.
“I was even thinking it was wrong for me to even record it. I’m going to make a Nyabinghi album because, the way I was seeing it is from the church, but now, as I said before, the teachings have to go everywhere," Bonjo said. "Everyone has to know what Rastafari is. Show the power of nyabinghi.”  For their performance at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival, the band members are seated on stage. Some are dressed in white, and some are clad in vivid reds, yellows and greens, with long flowing robes and colorful headgear. The musicians’ chanting often follows the “call and response” pattern that is typical of gospel and other genres of music whose roots are in Africa.Biblical Israel is a core topic in much of gospel and reggae music. So when Vivien Jones had the chance to perform at the annual festival in Jerusalem, he didn’t hesitate. He invited the Drums of Defiance to join him."The importance of this place, Israel, from all our background, growing up as children, reading the Bible and things like this," Jones said. "Our parents are Christians, so it’s very special for me, because you feel a presence of a higher level of blessing and grace. You feel a presence of that. You can definitely feel it here.” Nyabinghi drumming is ceremonial music for Rastafarians.  But, it is also universal.“This music that we play, this music is music of love and upliftment," Jones said. "This music is for the whole world. It’s for all nations. It’s for us to get together. This music will draw everyone together, all nations together. We’re not singing of war, we’re singing of peace, we’re singing of love, we’re singing of caring for one another, your family. This is what we're singing about. Jones and the Drums of Defiance plan to take performances of Nyabinghi music around the world.

The Guinea Story: Land of contrasts

by Muguette Goufrani

The story of my journey from the Gulf of Guinea on Africa's Atlantic Coast to historic Mali Ville in the northern highlands appears in our bilingual Africa Travel Magazine. With that in mind, please consider this online version as an hors d'oeuvre - the full course banquet will come when you visit Guinea. I guarantee that your travel experience will be a feast - and like one of Nat King Cole' s most famous songs ... Unforgettable! Or as the immortal Maurice Chevalier would say ... C'est Magnifique! Some call Guinea the "Switzerland of Africa" and one of your first pleasant surprises when visiting the Republic of Guinea is that it is uncrowded. Big in size, yet small in population. A nation of 7.5 million, Guinea is also described as the land of contrasts. Those apt comparisons became evident to me a few days into our journey. The route selected by our gracious hosts Hon. Sylla H. K. Diakite, Guinea's Minister of Tourism and General Manager Ibrahima Diallo, began close to Conakry. Here we visited several sites along the "Slave Route," which I will describe more fully my next installment.

The main journey covered a vast expanse of geography, stretching northeast by highway via Kindia, Dalaba, Pita and Labé, to our final destination at Mali Ville near the Senegal border. For tour photos, see the gallery pages, where I had many opportunities to capture the spirit and flavor of the country, its people, history, culture, cuisine, colorful costumes, lifestyles and breathtaking scenery. To follow the route we took,click and view the full page map or scroll for the map inset below. If your are interested in booking a tour covering the same basic route, see Dunia Voyages of Conakry or write me at

Did You Know?

H Guinea's major ethnic group the Malinke also reside in parts of Mali, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal, and at an earlier time ruled one West Africa's great empires. Malinke are also known to have originated the best kora musicians in West Africa. The kora is a unique and popular musical instrument in the area. For details on the amazing kora- visit this informative website:

Guinea is called the Switzerland of Africa, with its lofty mountains and high plateaus, plus a temperate climate. The highest peaks are Mount Loura at Mali Ville (1515 m) and Mount Tinka near Dalaba (1425m). They also call it the Water Tower of Western Africa because many rivers take their origin (River Gambie, Senegal, Niger, etc.) from it. These rivers and churning rapids, hurtling down the mountains create beautiful waterfalls.

Guinea's Tropical Paradise, the Loos Islands. Our next installment will feature a trip to Loos Islands, an archipelago located near Conakry. The key islands are Kassa, Room and Fotoba. There is also Tortoise Island (where giant tortoises are protected), Snake and Kid Islands. With easy access by boat, these islands offer beautiful white sand beaches for relaxation and nautical sports.

• Financial development: According to a recent financial report, the Gulf of Guinea has become one of the world' s most promising areas for new petroleum development. This income source in itself will help expand the infrastructure on which tourism depends.

• Many Africans call the country 'Guinea Conakry,' to avoid any possible confusion with Guinea Bissau, its northern neighbor.

• The language of business and commerce is French and the currency is the Guinea Franc.

If you are interested in a tour covering the same route, contact Dunia Voyages of Conakry, who have a page on this web site. Photos from Muguette Goufrani's Tour

More Background
Guinée (Guinea), situated on the West Coast of Africa, is 245,857 square miles with a population of 7.2 million. French is the official language. It has a tropical climate with the dry season from November to May and the rainy season from May to November. The Capital, Conakry, is a bustling port city on the Atlantic Ocean. The 12 story, seaside, Novotel Grand Hotel de L'Independance, has 214 air conditioned rooms and 10 suites, offering a beautiful view of the lighthouse.

Part of UNESCO'S historic "Slave Route," Guinée was the first country to benefit from the program of rebuilding the historic sites on the "Slave Route." On Host Country Day, ATA delegates had the opportunity to discover Guineé's "unspoiled Africa." The full day tour, sponsored by the private sector, the Office Of Promotion of Private Investment, took Congress participants on a scenic tour to Kindia, including a visit to Konkoure Falls and a festive luncheon at a private ranch belonging to the sponsor of Host Day, El Hadj Mamadou Sylla. Highlight of the day was a special performance in the evening at a Gala Dinner, by Guineé's world renowned National Dance Company, Les Ballets Africains

Africa Travel Association (ATA) is an international, nonprofit, nonpolitical, professional travel industry association whose objective is to promote tourism to Africa. Its membership is comprised of National Government Tourist Offices, hotels, airlines, ground and tour operators, travel agents, group tour leaders, marketing and media executives ATA has chapters throughout Africa and North America; is a member of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), WTO (World Tourism Organization), an industry partner with ARTA (Association of Retail Travel Agents), a founding member of the Coalition of Partners for Peace Through Tourism; and a Green Globe member. ATA organizes an annual international marketing conference in Africa; a biannual symposium on environmental and cultural preservation; and publishes the Africa Travel Magazine.

ATA headquarters: email; tel (212) 447-0027 or fax (212) 725-8253; or visit ATA on the Web at