Camp Samatou 2015

Camp Samatou is a three-day drum and dance camp for lovers of African drum and dance, held just outside Melbourne at a lovely bush site near Kyneton. It is held in November annually.

This year has been the biggest yet. We flew guest artist Naby Bangoura from California to teach and perform. He is a renowned Guinean dancer who is an expert in his field, and a patient teacher who loves what he does. We also had Mohamed Bangoura – master djembe player from Guinea, who resides in Sydney. These two artists brought fire and energy to the camp. As they come from the same country, they speak the same ‘language’ of drum and dance. It was very exciting to have them in the same space.

At the camp, there is a variety workshops that run throughout each day. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced level classes in djembe, dundun, African dance and dundun dance (which combines dance with drumming). We also had yoga every morning, and some specialty classes in Soukous (a popular dance style in Congo and Nigeria) and singing. Simon Lewis ran workshops in balafon (African marimba) and also in djembe-maintenance and tuning.

On the Saturday evening we have a concert to showcase our African artists. This year they performed with Wassawumba, which is a Melbourne-based drum and dance ensemble run by Mitzi McRae and Simon Lewis. We were also very lucky to have singer/song-writer Miriam Lieberman performing at the concert. Miriam lives in Sydney and has a very rich background in African music. She has travelled many times to West Africa and she plays the kora (West African harp) and sings beautiful original melodies.

African-based hot stews and rice are served in the evenings to fuel our campers for each day of high-energy drum and dance. Lunch is provided and people organise their own breakfasts. Campers are accommodated in dorms for 4-8 people and there is plenty of space in the lounge and on the grass by the lake to hang out and get to know others. We even had kangaroos hopping around in the evenings!

Chatting and getting to know like-minded others is a huge attraction of Camp Samatou. People come from all over for this event. This year participants travelled from Canberra, Sydney and New Zealand. Many of those acquainted with West African drum and dance have an insatiable passion for it that is not well catered for in Australia.

Next year, we plan to add a ‘kids camp’ to cater for all the little ones who attend with their parents (and freeing up all the adults who want to do as many workshops as they can!). This will provide drum, dance and craft activities to introduce the kids to West African culture.

We also have plans to bring more artists to make it bigger and better. Come and join us!


Watch the video of Camp Samatou 2015

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