Doundounba is the “Dance of the Strong Men”, an old dance traditionally performed only by men in Guinea, West Africa. It is a social ritual that takes place in the “Bara”, the space for dancing found in every village, with a large tree planted in the center.
In Doundounba ceremonies, the circles of men or boys are formed around the tree, each circle representing a social or age group (kare). The Baranti, the masters of the Bara, form the group that assumes responsibility for the smooth running of the gathering.
The name of the project is purely symbolic as this is not about specifically teaching Guinean culture. Also, although the project is named after an ancient traditional dance, the main focus of these circles will be on men drumming together and expressing themselves through rhythm and storytelling. You will learn from several artists/facilitators from various African traditions and cultures.
In this project we wanted to provide an opportunity for Black men (and their sons where applicable) to feel supported in a culturally safe environment, with traditional practices that draw upon their own ancestral roots. Even though the Black community is diverse and coming from many backgrounds from around the world, it is a known fact that most of us do not typically seek conventional therapy even when we need help. Instead, we find the support we need primarily in our social gatherings with our community. Additionally, the recent racial tensions we have been experiencing happened at a time when black people were already feeling vulnerable, and because of Covid-19 measures it was not possible for us to physically come together and get the care we needed from our own community.
TODAY, our cultural healing traditions are needed to successfully address the specific challenges and issues faced by our male Black community members here in Vancouver during Covid-19. We believe that this project will provide great relief at a time of unusual and increased need.
Your guides (or Baranti) on this journey are taking the role of the Griots. A Griot is an African storyteller, singer, musician, and oral historian. Griots were an important part of the culture and social life of the village, and their role has traditionally been to preserve the genealogies, historical narratives, and oral traditions of their people. They were the keepers of cultural knowledge and traditional values (Griots meaning “blood of the society” in Mandinka language from West Africa).
You will be introduced to all your Guides on our launch day on October 10th, and your main Guide will be Elder and Storyteller Jean Pierre Makosso from Congo.
From October 10 to November 30, 2020
This project is 8-week long (including a launch event with a First Nations land acknowledgement and blessing ceremony). We will have one in-person session per week and one online session per week. In-person sessions are 2 hours each time, while online gatherings are 90-minute long. In addition, there will be 2 lifestyle group coaching sessions, to help the participants understand and organize their self care needs moving forward.
Upon registration, you will receive the exact location of our weekly gatherings. No drop-ins please.
Time: 11 am to 1 pm every Saturday
Online: 2 pm to 3:30 pm every Sunday
We will provide all the djembes and djun-djuns that will be needed.
Please bring your own face mask.
Brotherhood outfit: in African traditions, a group that goes through initiation together will dress the same way at the end, to symbolise their brotherhood so that they know they are no longer alone, that they are connected to each other beyond their physical form and they can recognize each other in any crowd because of their outfit.
On Monday, November 30 we will go out of town for a private healing ceremony. Please book your calendar accordingly, you will be gone roughly from 10 am to 6 pm. More details will be confirmed later.
This is where you will receive your "Brotherhood outfit", as a symbol of your belonging to this men's group.
*We will arrange carpooling and lunch will be provided.
I am not black but I love drumming. Can I join this group?
NO. This is for Black men only.
I am interested but I don't want to commit. Can I just drop-in from time to time?
We would prefer it if you could attend on a consistent basis. We are confident that once you experience the deep connection that happens around the drum you will make every effort to attend all sessions! So please, come any time you can, we will be here, ready to welcome you. Also, keep in mind that regular attendance helps build trust and connection.
I want to attend but I am concerned about Covid-19. Is there another way I can be a part of this?
We understand your concerns and we take every precaution to keep everyone safe when meeting in person. Having said that, we also have an online weekly gathering so that those who cannot join us physically can still be part of the group. The online sessions are for any Black man/folk who wants to join us!
This is a men's group but is Jacky going to teach us?
NO. Storyteller Jean Pierre Makosso will be the lead facilitator for this project, so that this remains a men's group. Once or twice there will be a female facilitator, but the rest of the time this project will be led by men.
This project is made possible by the generous support of the Government of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, and the contribution of the Vancouver Opera.