Balimaya Project is built on the foundation of forging cultural ties rooted in the experience of being a West African musician living in the diaspora, exploring new approaches from a place of integrity, authenticity, and inspiration.

Join a talk between Yahael Camara Onono, composer, djembe player and bandleader, as well as griot and kora player Jali Bakary Konteh, both part of Balimaya Project, with Fatiah Touray, NYUAD’s Director of the Office of Inclusion and Equity, centered on the significance of music, the role of the storyteller (griot) and its social power, and how artists living in diaspora adapt traditional approaches to new contexts.


Fatiah Touray Esq.

Fatiah Touray, Esq. serves as the Executive Director for Inclusion and Equity at NYU Abu Dhabi where she is responsible for leading and directing NYUAD’s programs that promote inclusion, diversity, equity, and belonging (IDBE). Fatiah works in partnership with Spiritual Life and Intercultural Education (SLICE), the Office of the Provost, and all students, faculty, and staff dedicated to the work of helping NYUAD become a truly inclusive institution.

Throughout her career, Fatiah has shown that she can master multiple fields including law while maintaining a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She brings extensive leadership experience in higher education, complemented by her non-profit work and training as a lawyer and classroom teacher. Fatiah comes to NYUAD from Sarah Lawrence College where she was the inaugural Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Special Assistant to the President. Previously, she was the Assistant Dean of Diversity and International Advising and the Director of the Academic Achievement Program at the College of Arts and Science at NYU.

Fatiah received her B.A., with Honors, in Journalism and Africana Studies from NYU. Fatiah received her Masters of Science in Education from The City University of New York – Brooklyn College. Fatiah also received her JD from the Howard University School of Law.

Yahael Camara Onono

Born in Harlesden North West London to Nigerian and Senegalese parents. Yahael Camara Onono started playing the Djembe, its accompanying instruments, and other West African percussion from the age of 6. Since then, Yahael’s virtuosity as a Djembe player, arranger, and composer has made him an intrinsic part of the London Jazz scene. He has traveled to teach and perform in traditional and contemporary workshops and settings. He has performed with artists from across all genres from Yussef Dayes, Family Atlantica, Oumou Sangare, Baaba Maal, Wizkid, Davido, and many more.

As the band leader and founder of Balimaya Project, Yahael has gained recognition internationally for his exciting arrangements and vast knowledge on traditional Mande music, dance, and art. He is currently the artist in residence at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and the first contemporary artist in the scheme’s history.

As an activist, Yahael has been an advocate for his community through his music and creating spaces and opportunities for black inner city youth to engage in traditional arts and music.