Sidiki has successfully been running trips to his homeland since 2019. These trips are a two week internship in dun dun, djembe, balafon and traditional West African dance. He also arranges excursions on these holidays such as visiting The Banco National Park, Grand Bassam and a traditional djembe factory where you can see the drums being made. These trips have been universally well received, students talk of their lives being changed by this experience. It is one thing to learn about African roots and culture, through the wonder of music and storytelling in the UK, but quite another to immerse yourself in the country from which this heritage came.
In the 12 years that Sidiki has been teaching in the UK, he has seen countless people's lives be bettered by the introduction of the djembe to their world. So many times he has seen people arrive in the depths of despair, traumatised, struggling with depression or other mental health issues - even neurodiversity. And they heal, they get better through the peace, joy and harmony that the djembe (and everything that comes with it) brings. There is a thriving djembe community right here in the UK.
Unfortunately, it is all too often that the people that most need this injection of love into their lives are the ones that aren't able to access it financially. We know that people from the BAME community are statistically more likely to come from socio-economically deprived backgrounds in this country. Some of the people that Sidiki has met could only dream of taking a trip like his, many of them aren't even able to afford to come to classes in the UK at just a few pounds a week. And for Black British people, the opportunity to re-discover their roots, heritage and ancestry is of even more importance to their sense of self and their identity. We'd go so far as to say it's vital for them.
In our research for this project we discovered a charity in America called Birthright Africa, who are offering a similar experience to young African-Americans. They have now sent 61 young people to Africa and have seen amazing results. Here are some quotes from the young people who have visited Africa through Birthright Africa.
"Prior to Birthright Africa, I had a lot of pent up resentment and antagonism due to a history that I felt my people had no say in. For those of us in the diaspora, our history, according to the textbooks, starts with slavery. I was doubtful and kind of cynical about what the future held not only for me as an individual, but also for black people as a whole,"
"We may not speak the same language, but the foods we eat, the way we carry ourselves, the way we relate to one another, and our deeply ingrained spirituality reflect a bond that is still there," she said. "There is a sense of inner peace and ease I now have, that wasn't there before. I can move forward with my life, with intention behind everything I do."
"Before I had even touched down in Ghana, the energy I felt as I got closer to Africa, I felt a rush, a vibration, and it was so strong, It felt like something was pulling me towards the country. It felt surreal."
It is exactly these kinds of intense, life changing benefits that Sidiki hopes to be able to offer British people of African descent, who would be categorically unable to fund such a trip themselves. We are trying to raise 30,000 GBP to be able to send 15 participants on their first ancestral journey. 2,000 GBP per person to cover passports, flights, airport transfers, yellow fever vaccines, accommodation, food, teaching, trips and admin.
If you would like more information on Sidiki, his trips and his humanitarian efforts, please visit www.sidikidjembe.org.