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Djoliba Crossing

Journeys into West African Music and Culture

Written and illustrated by Dave Kobrenski

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★★★★★ “Djoliba Crossing is an excellent and beautifully-crafted introduction to the world of Malinké music and dance.” — Indie Reader

Discover the music and culture of West Africa in this beautifully illustrated account of an artist’s adventures in the Niger River valley.

When artist and musician Dave Kobrenski first set out for Guinea, West Africa, it was simply to learn the djembé music of the Malinké people. What he found instead was a land of ancient traditions where spirits mingle with the living and the souls of ancestors reside in sacred groves of trees. He soon learns that intense poverty and rampant political corruption are a mixture with explosive potential in Conakry’s inner-city. When bloody clashes erupt, no traveler is safe. For Kobrenski, the result was a two decade musical adventure that would test his resolve and draw him into a quest of cultural understanding.

Djoliba Crossing is Kobrenski’s travel-worn collection of stories, paintings, drawings, and rhythm notations. On the surface, it is a travelogue, adventure story, and a celebration of Mandé music and culture. Looking deeper, Djoliba Crossing is about glimpsing in the everyday dust of existence the potential for diverse ways of being. It is an invitation into ancient traditions still guarded by a culture dancing on the edge of modernity, a culture which understands that who we are is who we were.

Djoliba Crossing is both an adventure memoir and a guidebook for the music traditions of West Africa. Descriptions of ancient music and festivals are enriched by original artwork, historical research, and rhythm notations for the djembé, dununba, sangban, and kenkeni drums. Together, they offer a glimpse into a world hidden off the beaten path, and chronicle an artist’s journey deep into realms of the unexpected.


Djoliba Crossing is a premium quality, full color book with 192 pages of stories, historical and cultural information, rhythm transcriptions, maps, and more. The book contains over 70 full color illustrations.

  • 192 pages
  • large format, 8.5x11, full-color
  • 70 full-color illustrations
  • hand-drawn maps
  • complete rhythm transcriptions for djembe + dunun drums

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“Djoliba Crossing is an excellent and beautifully-crafted introduction to the world of Malinké music and dance, explaining its relationship to daily life and to ritual activity.”

Indie Reader

“This book is key if you are studying the music, culture and/or dance of this region of the world. The drawings are exquisite. The notes are inspiring, and the writing is a true representation of what it is like to travel and experience the culture of Guinea, West Africa. I have several students who study this region and I request that any serious students purchase this book. I believe that you will not be disappointed. The graphics are stunning. This book is a work of art, IMO.”

— David M. Smith

“I just received a copy of this book in the mail, and am so excited to explore it more. My first impression, is that it is beautiful. The book is filled with original artwork, and even the page with just text is visually appealing. I have the paperback copy, and the paper is a much finer, thicker quality than what you would expect from a paper back. What I am most excited about is that in the back, Kobrenski included a ton of original drum transcriptions he collected himself on his visits to West Africa. He also talks about in what context he heard the drumming. Highly recommended for drummers, music teachers, or people interested in West Africa.”

— Apple Scruff (Amazon review)

Book Details

Artemisia Books
Publish Date:
September 1, 2020

About the Author

Dave Kobrenski is an artist, musician, and writer who has a hard time refusing a good adventure. Between 2001 and 2016, Dave traveled extensively in West Africa to study with master musicians Famoudou Konaté, Sayon Camara, Nansady Keïta, and others. In Guinea, he continues his studies of the Fula flute (tambin) with a master of the Malinké flute tradition, Lanciné Condé.

Dave is also is the author of Drawing on Culture and Finding the Source (coming soon).