Noa from Mbour

We met Noa, the incredible Jola flautist and vocalist, in Mbour.

We had previously heard stories of the gifted musician, but none of the locals knew of his whereabouts. Later on, when asking a gardener if he knew where to find Noa, he looked at us oddly. Confused, he replied “C’est moi!” – Noa the musician was also Noa the gardener. There and then, he gathered his handmade flutes and prepared his songs for us.

A Jola flute has only four holes and is played by using blowing techniques to create breathy harmonic overtones. Noa’s performance was exceptional. His vocal piece was filled with great passion and sadness; the lyrics told stories of his family and friends in Casamance, a southern territory of Senegal, where a low-level civil war has been ongoing for more than thirty years.

We spent the rest of the afternoon with Noa as he showed us the basic playing methods of the Jola flute, and as a gift, presented us with one of his own.



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