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Sunao Niidome


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 Why I Started Djembe

I had always liked music, and as a child learned piano from my mom. In high school, I was in a band. I also began to be interested in folk music from that time, and started to get into the earthy, African music quite a lot.

When I was about 20 years old, I heard someone playing a djembe in a park in Tokyo as I was walking by. I stopped immediately, and listened. The timbre and impact of the sound struck me very strongly. I immediately wanted to play it myself, and the man let me do so. Upon trying it myself, I was overcome with the feel and sound that came directly through my own hands. That was the start of my becoming completely enthralled by the djembe and African music.

I then went to Africa, the home of the djembe, and studied djembe there with a man who was keeping up that tradition. I was also able to participate in the local festivals and weddings, and came to love the djembe more and more.

The djembe has a very strange power to invigorate both the player and the listener. I now want to share this experience with more and more people.

The above photo shows Sunao with some of the children who befriended him during his stay in Africa.

 Why I Decided to Teach at Fona School

I met Jim (from Fona School), just at the time when I was thinking that I wanted to use the djembe experience to increase the awareness of Africa in Saitama and was looking for a way to do that.

Jim had heard a djembe performance at a festival, and told me his impressions of the djembe music being very full of life, and communicating directly to his soul.

In addition, I also very much liked his thinking to make the world a better place through education and cultural exchange. Most of all though, I felt a respect for him, because he was actually doing something about it with those desires and motives driving him.

He said many things that hit home with me that day, and I decided to work together with him.