Find Your Folklife – Norbert Yao
In Cote d’Ivoire…
…the Ivory Coast, where I was born, we spoke French in school. And besides that, we have different African dialects, so I speak Baoule and a little Dioula. Here it’s all English. It’s not learning just the language. Everything is different—food, clothing, culture, I had to learn it all.
I found opportunities to teach Americans about Ivory Coast culture. There was a time in West Africa when people used the drum—the djembe—to communicate between villages. It still brings people together and helps them stay connected.
There’s an organization in Reno, the African Union, we did some shows there. I met people from Cameroon, Nigeria, Madagascar, Kenya. There are more than 50 nations in Africa, and it’s larger than North America in population and size. Most people here don’t have any idea of what it’s like!
I taught at the Children’s Museum in Carson City, the Pioneer Center in Reno, shows at schools in the area. I had to stop because my business no longer leaves me with time to present cultural programs.
—Norbert Yao, Anouaze Beat, Carson City