Montreal musician Lasso Sanou, who originally hails from Burkina Faso, plays the ngoni, a type of West African string instrument. He will be one of the performers at Issamba: The African Roots Ultimate Experience at the Beban Park Social Centre on Friday, Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy Victoria African and Caribbean Cultural Society)

Issamba: The African Roots Ultimate Experience comes to Beban Park Social Centre

Concert will feature musicians with African roots living in Canada and around the world

Pulchérie Mboussi may have left Cameroon for Canada 30 years ago, but she still feels a strong connection to the culture and traditions of her homeland, and Africa as a whole.

Since 2012, Mboussi has been encouraging others to discover and familiarize themselves with the traditional music and dance of Africa in her role as founder and executive of the Victoria African and Caribbean Cultural Society.

Last year she organized the first Issamba: The African Roots Ultimate Experience tour to introduce audiences to music from the reaches of the continent. This year the show is back and kicks off Black History Month with three stops in Sidney, Nanaimo and Vancouver. The showcase comes to the Beban Park Social Centre on Feb. 2.

“We’re just trying to immerse people in the traditional rhythm,” Mboussi said.

This year’s lineup features musicians with African roots living in Canada and around the world. Among the new performers are Mamadou Diabaté of Burkina Faso, renowned for his work on a type of West African xylophone called a balafon, as well as Cuban saxophonist Noedy Hechavarria Duharte, who now resides in Victoria.

The performers will be gathering on at the end of January and with the guidance of Cameroonian choreographer Merlin Nyakam will build the show over the course of three days.

“My goal is to have the five African regions [north, south, east, west and central] and the Caribbean to be represented in the group, which is a little bit difficult because in B.C. we don’t really have local artists from different African countries so we have to have them from overseas,” Mboussi said, adding that while the continent’s regions are not being represented physically by the musicians onstage, those areas will be represented musically.

She said she hopes to emphasize that calling one kind of music African can be misleading, as each part of the continent has its distinct sounds.

“When I came here to B.C. and people drum and they dance rhythm from Guinea but they call it African rhythm, African drumming, African dance. But it’s not African dance, it’s a dance and rhythm and drum from Guinea…” she said.

“So the continent is not represented, so [audiences] can see the difference and they can also open their minds so they’re more open to lean more about other cultures.”

WHAT’S ON … Issamba: The African Roots Ultimate Experience comes to the Beban Park Social Centre on Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 at the door or $30 in advance at nanaimoafricanrootseultimateexperience.eventbrite.ca.

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