Concert, fruit of an intercultural adventure France / Congo Brazzaville

Musical meeting with the indigenous Äka pygmies of the NDIMA Ensemble (Congo Brazzaville), the Bantu manager and founder of Ndima Sorel Eta, and three Occitans Leïla Martial, Eric Perez, Rémi Leclerc.
Here is an unprecedented meeting between the NDIMA group, virtuosos of the ancestral vocal pygmy Aka repertoire and that of artists with an abundant imagination, experienced in improvisation, gathered around the incredible vocalist Leïla Martial and the experienced body-percussionist-keyboardist Remi Leclerc.

A multidimensional epic that spans several years and is the subject of a show (Released in Nov 2021), an album scheduled for spring 2023 as well as a feature documentary directed by Yvan Schreck and produced by “The Place”.
What do we know about these complex mysterious polyphonies inherited from an ancestral culture, which many ethnomusicologists have given up trying to decipher?
The arrangements make traditional pygmy yodels coexist with tonal harmonizations, the counterpoints augur the lyrical flights, the textures and mouth effects are strangely entangled, the body percussions invite to dance while the vocal bass lines take us on a trance. unprecedented. The free improvisations end up bursting a framework constantly reinvented together.

Here, the voice is at the center of the exploration and becomes the instrument of all possibilities. It is a journey without words, at the heart of human nature, in its dimension of sharing. We are witnessing a joyful mix of sounds, vibrations, vocal expressions. There is in the meeting of these 2 worlds like the advent of a new community of sounds, a “new people of sounds”.


LINE UP of ÄKA-Free voices of forest 
Angélique Manongo : voice
Emilie Koulé 
: voice
Nadège Ndzabolé
 : voice
Gaston Motambo : voice, percussions
Michel Kossi
 : voice, percussions
Sorel Eta : Manager Ndima, voice, percussions, artistic direction
Leïla Martial : voice, composition, artistic direction
Rémi Leclerc : voice, body-percussions, keys, composition, artistic direction
Eric Pérez : voice, percussions, compositions
Maxime Lance : technician sound
Colin Thèvenin : Light – Managing

CONTACT BOOKER  : Laurent Carrier
Production & Booking : COLORE
https://colore.fr / laurentcarrier@colore.fr / 0671049710

Coproduction : Colore (Laurent Carrier Diffusion), Les Scènes du Jura – scène nationale, Festival Africolor, Musiques au Comptoir à Fontenay Sous-Bois, le centre de création Musicale Césaré/CNCM Reims, Jazzdor Strasbourg, Musiques d’Ici et d’Ailleurs à Châlons-en-Champagne, La Cie des Humanophones, Plateau Libre, Détours de Babel.
Avec le soutien de la Région Île-de-France, du Ministère de la Culture et du Shed.
Crédit photo : Therance Ralff Lhyliann




Created on January 15, 2003 in Kombola, department of Likouala in the Republic of Congo, on the initiative of researcher-ethnologist Sorel ETA, Ndima (the forest in aka language) is a group of artists (singers and dancers) from the pygmy aka.

In its vision, Ndima proposes to promote and safeguard the cultural heritage threatened with disappearance of the Aka indigenous peoples, by highlighting, through performances and various meetings, the artists of Aka origin, their dances and polyphonic songs unknown in their diversity, and to promote, through them, the rapprochement of peoples.

Back to Genesis : NDIMA and the Humanophones meet for the first time at the mythical Leipzig Philharmonic (Germany) full to bursting in May 2018!

In Kombola, a village on the edge of the equatorial forest - North Congo Brazzaville During the immersion in December 2020, Leila Martial, Rémi Leclerc joined the singers and musicians of Ndima in their environment, their habitat - forest.

The link between Leila Martial, Rémi Leclerc, both passionate about AKa polyphony, and Sorel Eta, manager of Ndima, was gradually woven throughout the following year. A collaborative project is imagined.

The first phase of the adventure is an immersion trip in the equatorial forest in December-January 2020 with the aim of discovering the culture of the Aka people and more specifically that of the Ndima clan. They were accompanied by a director and a sound engineer who are preparing a documentary covering this whole adventure (Production Company “L’Place”)

Videographer Yvan Schreck and sound technician Marie-Clothilde Chery accompanied them to shoot images for an upcoming film.

The new book by Sorel ETA Ethnologue available at physical and digital booksellers. (Collection Nouvelles / Edited at Presses Universitaires de France)

Defender of the indigenous cause of the equatorial forest of the Congo, he identifies himself as a researcher of the University of the forest. Sorel is a friend and adventure partner in AKA FREE VOICES OF FOREST.
This book is first and foremost the story of an encounter between the author, Sorel Eta, and the Aka. Sorel Eta is a Bantu, a dominant ethnic group who, as he says himself, usually despises the Aka Pygmies, people of the forest in the North-East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is therefore first and foremost the story of reciprocal friendships spanning prejudices, on both sides. It is also that of a common adventure because Sorel Eta has created with his friends a musical group performing internationally, Ndima. The Pygmies are indeed famous for their polyphonic songs, a complex vocal musical tradition, based on oral transmission, a complex form of four-part contrapuntal polyphony, mastered by all members of the community. Finally, it is the progressive discovery by the author of the art of living in the forest specific to the Aka. At his side, we discover their art of hunting and gathering wild honey, their beliefs, the relationships between men and women, their use of magic, their very particular art of moving faster than anyone else in the forest… Sorel Eta thus offers readers a summary of humanity rich in lessons.


           The pygmies inhabit the forests of Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes, and are divided into different groups such as the Baka, Bambuti, Batwa, Babongo, Efé and others. Traditionally nomadic, they are now in the process of settling.
The aka pygmies live in the forests of the north of the Republic of Congo and the south of the Central African Republic. They speak Aka and try to preserve their way of life and their culture despite the growing influence of modernism in rural areas and the scarcity of resources in a forest gradually devastated by farmers and loggers.
Marginalized and often exploited like most Pygmy groups, the aka maintain client relationships with their Bantu neighbors, performing various tasks for them: hunting, fishing, collecting honey, agricultural work and porterage.
            Children of the forest, the aka know how to take care of it because their life depends on it. The forest provides them with game and plants for food, medicine, and make all the objects necessary for hunting, cooking, harvesting honey…

           Music is part of everyday life and practiced by everyone. As Simha AROM writes: “to hear an aka heart sing, that is to say the whole of a camp, one retains the impression of an extraordinary intertwining of voices and vocal timbres where the process predominates yodel” (aka Pygmy Encyclopedia).
           The aka practice, and this since childhood, a contrapuntal polyphony that the yodel, with its sudden changes of register, makes particularly spectacular. Likewise, their tambourine rhythms, their dances, their instrumental music for arched harp, zither-harp, musical bow, flute, testify to a rich artistic culture now threatened with extinction.
           Originally from the village of Kombola in northern Congo-Brazzaville, the aka musicians and dancers of the Ndima ensemble are therefore committed to promoting and safeguarding this musical heritage and, in doing so, invite us to a journey into the depths of the forest. equatorial. Music and dances from daily life, songs of the spirits of the forest, rites of hunting, healing or lifting mourning, thus offer us a glimpse of an immemorial tradition but also in perpetual recreation.

Sorel ETA


12.11.2021 Création – Fontenay-sous-Bois (Musiques au Comptoir/ Africolor)
13.11.2021 Lyon (Musée des Confluences)
18.11.2021 Bischwiller (Mac/ Jazzdor)
20.11.2021 Beynes (La Barbacane)
26.11.2021 Berre-l’Étang (Forum des Jeunes et de la Culture)
28.11.2021 Vezelay (Cité de la Voix)
23.03.2022 Seyssinet (Détours de Babel)
25.03.2022 Foix (scène nationale l’Estive)
26.03.2022 Marciac (l’Astrada)
29.03.2022 Brest (Plages Magnétiques/ Le Quartz)
01.04.2022 Dôle (Scènes du Jura)
02.04.2022 Metz (l’Arsenal)
03.04.2022 Reims (CNCM – La Magnifique Avant-Garde)
07.04.2022 Guidel (L’Estran)
08.04.2022 Langonnet (La Grande Boutique)
09.04.2022 Bagneux (Théâtre Victor Hugo)
12.04.2022 Vanves (Bagneux)
13.04.2022 Limoges (Centre Culturel Jean-Gagnant)
14.04.2022 Belfort (Théâtre le Granit)
19.04.2022 Bezons (TPE)
20.04.2022 Guyancourt (La Batterie)
21.04.2022 Rocher de Palmer (Bordeaux)
22.04.2022 Beauzile – Forêt de Grésignes (Tarn)
03.10.2022 Paris – Le 360 Music Factory

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