Drum and Dance Tours in Africa

Mali Foli Drum and Dance Tours With Bassidi Koné.

Drum and Dance Tours in Africa.IMG_1849

Immerse yourself in the rich depths of Griot heritage, traditional culture and the history of Mali, one of the world’s greatest musical nations. Bassidi’s Koné offers 2-4 week study tours to Bamako, Mali, which emphasise the study of traditional percussion (djembe and balafon) and dance. On an annual basis, Bassidi works extensively with European, Japanese, American and Australian students who visit Bamako to study with him. His study tours include 4-hours of tuition a day. Students extend their musicianship of their chosen instrument and experience the cultural context in which it is played, developing a deeper understanding and knowledge of both the authentic Griot traditions and rhythms found throughout West Africa, predominately Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

On Bassidi’s tours, you will have the unique opportunity to study intensively with him and members of his ten-piece percussion group, Bwazan. Bassidi and Bwazan, a Griot family practicing their heritage, are considered one of Mali’s leading and most competitive percussion groups. For this group of young brothers and relatives, Bwazan maintains their livelihood and way of life. Much of what they play are songs and rhythms that have originated in Bobo village traditions, innovating and paying respect to the sound of their ancestors and teachers with their own arrangements and instrumentation. Since 2009, they have represented Mali throughout West Africa at festivals and competitions with sponsorship from the Minister of the Arts. Bwazan will welcome you into their daily lives, rehearsals and routines during your stay, visiting village festivals, marionette festivals, marriages, local music, theatre and dance performances that are found in and around Bamako. Not only will your visit to Mali be a musical, rhythmic one. You will also have plenty of opportunity to explore and experience many other aspects of Mali’s rich tradition and share in the local Malian culture. Possible options include:

  • Exploring the authentic artisan and food markets
  • Visiting Mali’s National Museum to explore Mali’s oldest relics from Dogon and Taureg tribes
  • Winding down in the National Botanical Gardens
  • Visiting Bassidi’s family village (Monisso Village). Here he will share his knowledge of traditional village life, and the role of instruments as a means of communication, still current today. You will see the instruments that have been passed down 5 generations through Bassidi’s family!
  • Visiting Mali’s world-renown, heritage-listed towns of Segou and Djenne with local guides
  • There is also the picturesque Siby Village and waterfalls to visit on an overnight stay, only 45 minutes from Bamako

Extended Visits to Mali

As Bassidi and Bwazan are based in Mali, living and rehearsing in Bamako for the majority of the year, they receive students year-round. Many students have studied with Bassidi for up to 3-4 months in this way, usually customize their trip so they are able to go on extended tours with Bwazan to Mali’s larger festivals and cultural events, and to visit historical, heritage listed sites and ruins, of which Mali is famous for. Many students enjoy taking Bambara lessons and living in a compound with a local family, while others are welcome to remain in a guesthouse or hotel. * For extended stays beyond Bassidi’s formal 2-4 week tour, costs become more flexible and negotiable, depending on your personal choice of accommodation, food, tuition time, and interests.

Tour Hosts:

Bassidi Koné

BASSIDI KONÉ (age 29) is a well renown, versatileDrum and Dance Tours in Africa
percussionist andbalafon player of exceptional, rare talent, who gives a skilled, authentic and dynamic voice to his instruments.
Bassidi is of Bobo origin (tribe), whose family originates in a village near Segou, (Mali, West Africa). Coming from a Griot heritage, Bassidi studied and played music from the age of 5, taught to him by his father and grandfather. Living his childhood in Bamako (Mali), and spending eight years of his youth in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), he was surrounded by the traditional music of these regions.

See Bassidi and Bwazan in action here.

Freya Manning

Freya Manning hosts Mali Foli Tours alongside Bassidi. She has spent a total of 4 years in West Drum and Dance Tours in Africa 2015Africa,living and working in Bamako, teaching at the American International School of Bamako, and currently, the International School of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). With her experience and knowledge of Mali and personal connections, she will happily assist with any queries you may have and help you meet your needs while on tour.

“I first went to Mali to study music and dance myself. My first impressions were immediately of the people, the community; their warm and open hospitality, gentleness, humility and dignity. As the locals say here in Mali ‘All people need to do to find somewhere to stay, is knock on the door’. With each month I extended my visa, I felt more and more drawn in by the mystery and mystic that is Mali; her people, ancient tradition, and culture, all unified by her life force that is music’.

Drum and Dance Tours in Africa

Drum and Dance Tours in Africa

Chosen Instruments to Study

The study of the djembe, dun dun, balafon, dance, and drum skinning and carving is the emphasis of what is offered on Bassidi’s tours. However, Bassidi and Bwazan play and are skilled in teaching a variety of other instruments, including flute, kora, and kamalan n’goni. Classes in other instruments can be easily negotiated upon arrival.


Bassidi’s 2-4 week tour offers simple, but clean, comfortable and secure accommodation with clean water, close to the heart of Bamako, by the meandering Niger River.

Tuition SpaceDrum and Dance Tours in Africa

Tuition will take place in the shade of the mango trees at Maison des Jeunes and the Palace de la Cultural, where Bwazan rehearse daily. Both these places are in the heart of the city, by the Niger River. These venues often host a variety of cultural events, music performances, local community groups and artists throughout the week.


Meals will be prepared daily by Somaila Seyba, our fantastic, smiley chef! Somaila manages the Maison des Jeune restaurant. Most meals will be traditional, consisting mainly of rice, attieke, couscous, fish, vegetables and salad, beef and lamb, however, Somaila is always happy to cater for more individual needs.

Pre-planning your trip:


A current passport with at least 6 months until expireDrum and dance Tours in Africa


Arrange your visa well in advance of your departure date. Either a one-month or a three-month, multiple-entry visa is recommended for the tour.


Please ensure you have visited a travel doctor and are informed of what current vaccinations are required for travel in West Africa. A Yellow Fever vaccination is mandatory, which you must show proof of with a ‘yellow card’ upon arrival into Senou Airport (Bamako).

Airfare Ticket and Travel Insurance

A round-trip to Mali is required. The purchase of your airfare ticket is your responsibility. A ticket from Australia to Mali usually costs between $2,200 and $3,200, not including travel insurance. Travel and health insurance is highly recommended.

Health and Safety Precautions

To ensure you remain healthy throughout the duration of your stay, it is recommended you consider the following:

  • Drink bottled mineral water (readily available in Bamako and all towns).
  • Take anti-malarial tablets is recommended as well as the use of a mosquito net (also readily available here in Bamako). Both these measures will greatly reduce your risk of contracting malaria.
  • Carry a small, personal first aid kit

For more information on health and vaccines, visit


“Bassidi Koné was my teacher for jembe (West African drum) and balafon (xylophone) lessons when I studied the music and culture of Mali for three months in the Fall of 2011. Koné is certainly a rising star of the jembe and balafon in Mali, a dedicated musician who is recognized for his technical virtuosity. There could be no better jembe teacher than a musician who comes from the region of Mali and Guinea where the instrument originated. He can share with you the jembe rhythms of the many traditional dances of Mali and Guinea. He knows the standard accompaniment patterns and has also distinguished himself through his innovative solo lead playing. In addition to demonstrating technique and rhythms on the drum, he uses the helpful pedagogical tool of vocalization (e.g tun-pe-ti-pa) to clarify tones and rhythms. Since he is an instrument builder, he has valuable insights and experience regarding the history, construction, and tuning of the drum and balafon. Bassidi is a passionate musician and you can see this by the happy expression on his face when he plays, that he loves music and especially, playing the jembe. If you want to study jembe with a great jembefola, please take the opportunity to learn from Bassidi Koné.” Robert J. Damm, Ph.D. Professor of Music Mississippi State University, U.S.A


Please contact us for any further information or clarification that you may need about Mali Foli Tours. We are here to help and ready to assist! Freya Manning Skype name: frazzycat Bassidi Kone (+223) 7943 9942 – Mali +61 0435 350 728 – Australia

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