Yahael Onono’s epic 15-piece fuses the sounds of Mande West Africa with London’s jazz scene, forging a new musical family.
Balimaya Project was formed in 2019 by percussionist Yahael Camara Onono, a second generation Londoner whose rich West African musical heritage, coupled with his musical experiences in the UK, inspired him to bridge the gap between the diaspora and West Africa.
The word Balimaya is a word from the Maninka language that means the essence of kinship. In Mande society, the ideology of kinship is engrained in the moral fabric of its people. Family ties aren’t just limited to blood relations. The concept of extended family created by marriage, cousinage, shared history within ethnicities and deeds done for one another is complex, but shared and adhered to with great pride. This extended family model is what inspires Balimaya’s repertoire and mission.
This group is built on the foundation of forging musical and cultural ties, from a place of integrity, authenticity and inspiration. Balimaya uses the repertoire of the Mande peoples of Senegal and Mali as the bridge to bring the folkloric West African music, together with Jazz and the sounds of Black London, to create something different.