LEAF International | Ivory Coast
Located in Ivory Coast, influenced by Mali | Launched in January 2017
Why Ivory Coast? Adama and Dramane Dembele are 33rd generation musicians from Ivory Coast, West Africa. Adama Demebele resides in Asheville, NC and his brother, Dramane resides in Ivory Coast. On January 12, 2015, the Ivory Coast government demolished their family home and many others in Abobo (a city of 1.5 million people), citing erosion and unsafe conditions, a fact that is common in this part of the country where very little infrastructure exists. Thousands of people were pushed out of their homes with one week’s notice-some forced at gunpoint-and were given no temporary housing or compensation. Many families and children are now homeless, and there is little expectation that the Ivory Coast government will provide housing or reimbursement for those impacted. To support the continuation of the inspirational work of the Dembele family, LEAF Community Arts is partnering with Dramane Dembele to provide West African Drum & Dance traditions to the community.
Demolished in 2015 by the government, the Djembeso Drum & Dance Education Center was a place for people of all ages to study drumming, dance, and learn about West African culture. Local Asheville musicians have traveled to study there, including members of Zansa and Toubab Krewe, as well as countless others from around the world. The Dembele household, known as Djembeso, or House of Djembe, has been a link between Asheville and West Africa for over a decade, though the family has been sharing their music for centuries. The Dembele family has been passing on their musical heritage and culture for nearly 700 years. Because of the great amount of respect LEAF has for African traditions and its culture keepers, LEAF partners with Adama Dembele to support the continuation of West African Drum and Dance classes in Ivory Coast.
This LEAF International program includes:
- Daily rehearsals in the morning and afternoon w/ different dance and drum instructors for each rehearsal. Each rehersal focuses on traditional West African dance and drumming.
- Monthly Community Performances
- Meals for youth between rehearsals
- Rehearsals in Ivory Coast and Mali
- Dormitory-style rooms for youth and community. Include lockers for valuable personal items. This will create a space for cross-cultural interaction between Ivory Coast and Mali
- Communal shower and bathroom area for guests, close to, or connected to the dorm area.
- Covered outdoor performance area, with room for spectators.
- Covered outdoor, or indoor, rehearsal space.
- Safety: tall cement walls around the border of the compound, with a large locking gate large enough to fit a motor vehicle.
Through this program, students and community members gain:
- Weekly traditional West African dance & drum classes
- Meals for those in need
- Training in valuable skill development that could lead to future work in the field
- Self-esteem and pride at keeping their traditions alive
- Discipline skills
- Community building through cultural arts
Meet the Culture Keeper
Resiliency – Even without a standing culture center, Culture Keeper Dramane Dembele creates a partnership with the SOS d’Abobo Orphanage to teach classes 3 times per week. His classes quickly reached full capacity in a matter of days.
Official LEAF International Ivory Coast program created.
4th Annual Soumu Event – A fundraiser and celebration of African Music, Dance, Food, & Art on Sept 16.
Funds were raised through the Soumu Event for the purchase of land in Bomako, Mali. Mali was chosen as the new location over Ivory Coast for reasons such as safety and the Malian government’s history of supporting music and preserving culture.
- PHASE 1: Purchase Land
- PHASE 2: Dembele Community Center/Compound
- PHASE 3: Student Dormitories
CONTACT International@theLEAF.org for more information on how you can support the Dembele Education Center!