Djoliba Crossing

Djoliba Crossing book cover

Available August 2020.

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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 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.

About the Book

Djoliba Crossing is 192 pages of stories, historical and cultural information, rhythm transcriptions, maps, and more — with over 70 full color illustrations.

  • 192 pages
  • 70 full-color illustrations
  • hand-drawn maps
  • complete rhythm transcriptions for djembe + dunun drums

Music & Rhythm Transcriptions

Included in Djoliba Crossing are djembe and dunun (sangban, dununba, kenkeni) rhythm notations for the following pieces of music:

  • Konden
  • Dunungbe
  • Taama
  • Numun
  • Donso Foli
  • Mamaya
  • Bala Kulandyan
  • Dyènè / Djaa
  • Mendiani (Hamanah)
  • Soliwulen
  • Komodenu

Hand-drawn Maps

Djoliba Crossing features a series of hand-drawn, historical maps. Some of these maps include:

  • ancient Mali Empire (depicting West Africa & Old Mali at the time of Sundiata Keita)
  • modern-day political boundaries of West Africa
  • Guinea-Conakry map
  • the traditional Hamanah (Kouroussa) region, showing villages and routes in the interior of Guinée


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

“Djoliba Crossing is art of the highest magnitude and belongs in the collection of writers, artists and musicians or anyone with even a glancing interest in the people, culture and music of West Africa. Dave’s paintings, drawings and stories bring West Africa alive…”

“Essential Reading! 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…a work of art, IMO.”
David M. Smith

“Beautiful book! Highly recommended for drummers, music teachers, or people interested in West Africa.”
Apple Scruff

Detailed Info

Pages: 192
Size: 8.5 x 11 inches
Publisher: Artemisia Books

2nd Edition:
ISBN: 978-0-9826689-4-8