Guest Travelogue – Republic of Guinea, West Africa

About The Contributor

Mar Stevens is a founding member of Bay Area based Rhythm Sistas Drumming and Dance Circle.


Skye, sharing my Guinea, Africa trip of Dec. 2008/Jan. 2009

Traveling to Guinea was my 4th trip to Africa. This time I went for a drum/dance camp and lived in a village.  This village had no electricity or running water.  There was a generator though that was used in the camp for a few hours at night.  I was so blessed to have the generator.  I was also on an Island outside the capital of Conakry, called Roume.

Skye, as you know Africa is a hard place.  So many emotions come up and I traveled in a large group of 33 people who were predominantly white.  There were only 4 blacks. This was the first time I ever traveled to Africa with white folk.  I’m easy and get along with everyone but gurrl it was challenging.  It was hard for me to see how the Guinea people bowed down to the white skin.  It was deep!
I already knew this would happen and when I saw it, it tore me up inside.  When I got home I felt really depressed about many things around oppression of black people and women. Guinea is also a Moslem country. That was the first time I had visited a Moslem country.

The people in this village were called the SuSu people. They spoke Susu and French.  No one spoke English really.  On the real traditionally women in Africa do not drum.  When the brothas saw me tearing up the Djuns they were like…damm a sistah.  It was so important for them to see a black woman drumming!  A black woman that could hold it down for real.

In your workshop you talked about ways of preparing yourself mentally for travel.  I knew I would have a language barrier. I also knew I would connect easily even if I could not speak the language.  I really focused on having a safe trip, not getting sick, hurt, etc., etc.  When we arrived the next day the president of Guinea died.  The military controls Guinea so there was a threat that a coup would take over causing a war.  It was alarming and very scary.  Girl I asked the ancestors to protect me the entire time I was there.  I had an altar in my room and that really gave me peace the entire time.



Skye, I actually pictured your face and body movements to calm me.

The people were so beautiful. I had all the sistahs/kids in my room lying on my bed just kicking it.  We couldn’t say much to each other but it didn’t matter.  I connected with my heart, eyes, and body.  I danced my ass off.  We do the same dances!  The brothas were tight ass musicians, singers, dancers, etc.  The music was incredible and everywhere.  I really wish I could have stayed for at least 2 months.  The rhythms are hard but I did bring a couple rhythms and dances back.

I got stopped at the airport.  You mentioned not to wrap your locs up but mine are short and in the “beginner stage.”  I was the only person to be pulled out of line going thru customs in SF.  Drama and I had to answer questions etc., etc.  I was cool but dammm!

This trip was huge and had so many wonderful things about it. It was also hard emotionally, mentally, and physically. I met some nice people there and miss my Guinea family.  I saw some of my own family members in many faces of the people there.  I love my black people!  I’m looking forward to my next African adventure.



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