Rokia Traoré's captivating Dream Mandé: Djata at Brighton Festival

Rokia Traor performing Dream Mand: Djata at the Theatre Royal, Brighton (Credit: Summer Dean)
Rokia Traor performing Dream Mand: Djata at the Theatre Royal, Brighton (Credit: Summer Dean)

This year’s Brighton Festival guest director was captivating in her final show of the programme, Dream Mandé: Djata.

It tells the history of the Mandinka civilisation in West Africa, and the legend of Soundiata Keïta – the founding father to the Malian empire.

Rokia Traor performing Dream Mand: Djata at the Theatre Royal, Brighton (Credit: Summer Dean)

Rokia Traor performing Dream Mand: Djata at the Theatre Royal, Brighton (Credit: Summer Dean)

Read more: Rokia Traoré on bringing a flavour of Mali to Brighton Festival
Brighton Festival and Rokia Traoré: what you need to know
Celebrated Malian musician Rokia Traoré has taken the theme of folktales as a focus for this year’s Festival.

She explained how in her culture music is used to record history, with the griots keeping those histories alive through their songs.

In Djata, Rokia’s vocals are delicately accompanied by two musicians on the traditional ngoni and kora.

In her soft spoken voice, she explained each part of the story in English before performing the songs with her powerful vocals in the language which has cemented the tale in history.

She takes you on a journey back to what is thought to be 13th century Africa – telling a story of kings, genies, evil water buffalos and prophecies.

Rokia says: “My ambition is to transcribe a griot story outside the Mandingo language while preserving the meaning of every gesture, every word, every original belief.”

And she certainly does.