Friday 31 July 2020

Festival in Niger Republic

The intriguing festival in Niger which requires only men to contest in a beauty pageant.

One of the biggest traditional events which occur annually in Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa is the Gerewol beauty pageants which surprisingly throw up only males and not females as contestants. Unlike most beauty pageants around the world, the Gerewol festival is always a male affair with the finest men on parade and it is fiercely contested.

The intrigues, dynamics, exquisite cultural display, use of some of the best African costumes, the carefully applied make-ups and the build-up to the occasion has made the festival one of the most exciting traditional festivals in the world. But this festival is not exclusive to Niger; it is also observed in Chad and wherever the Wodaabe tribes are domiciled.

The Wodaabe tribe are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders found mostly in the Sahel region with significant populations in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. They speak the Fula language and are predominantly Muslims. They are reputed for their beauty, rich cultural values and detailed attire.

Although polygamy is a common practice among them, they have one of the most respected code of conduct and behaviour espousing such values as humility, patience, loyalty, an amiable disposition to guests, etc. which are observed strictly till today.

Gerewol is held annually in September to mark the end of the rainy season and the commencement of the Wodaabe tribes’ journey to their dry season pastures. The festival is usually a week-long celebration which symbolizes a time for love and involving various competitions among the males including camel racing, storytelling, animal trading, songs and dances, etc. However, the most gruelling but also the most vital part of this celebration is the courtship dance called the Yaake dance, whereby suitors dance for long hours under the desert sun to impress eligible women.

Wodaabe Gerewol in Niger — Photo:

Before the dance, the contestants wear elaborate make-upusing lipsticks and red ochre as well as adorning themselves with traditional costumes including feathers, painted faces, traditional hats, beads, etc. to impress marriageable women. They are also hair styled with ostrich feathers and cowrie shells and have decorated chests with criss-cross patterns of white beads.

Their beauty is often scrutinized based on their tallness, white eyes and teeth, facial symmetry, plaited hair, and costumes. During the dance, the men will roll their eyes and show their teeth to display these characteristics. Wodaabe women always appreciate this show of love and beauty. It should be noted that contestants are given a magical potion made from herbs to aid them to withstand the rigorous dance and selection process.

The beauty pageant is judged by young women, often the daughters of previous winners. They are saddled with the responsibility of choosing the most attractive male. At the end of the competition, each of the jury chooses a winner who she takes as her lover – an affair that might last a day, or become a marriage.

Jury members — Photo:

Interestingly, the Gerewol festival allows young men and women to mix and flirt with one another. Marriages and children have often been the product of this traditional venture but significantly, there is no room for moral policing or social stigma of any kind as a result of what occurred during the festival.

•By Adedeji Ademola

•Culled from

History of Semba

What is Semba?

Semba (masemba in plural) is a traditional music10 genre and dance genre from Angola that became popular in the 50’s. It is the product of an evolution as it was influenced by different ethno linguistic groups from Angola as well as several different African rythms. In the context of dancing, the word Semba means “the body of the man that comes in contact with the body of the woman at the level of the belly button”.

In one of the national Angolan languages called Kimbundu, Semba can also have the meaning of “Umbigada”. Umbigada describes also a dance movement when the contact between the two bodies is provoked by the man who suddenly takes the woman on the hip and brings her towards his belly button. The Umbigada movement is exactly what is still done today in the traditional dance from Angola called Rebita and other African dances.

Some Additional Information:

Traditional Music

Traditional music can be considered to have links with the distant past, transmitted orally from one generation to the next, as part of popular customs. This had a strong influence on popular music which grew up around the city of Luanda. The word “folklore” is often used to define this. The word is English in origin (1846), the result of joining the words “folk” (people) and “lore”(science). Folk-lore: the science of a people, the science of traditions, of a country’s popular arts. By extension (1877), folklore: traditions; songs; national and local popular legends.

Mbundu or Kimbundu

North Mbundu, or Kimbundu, one of two Bantu languages called Mbundu (see Umbundu) is one of the most widely spoken Bantu languages in Angola, concentrated in the north-west of the country, notably in the Luanda Province, the Bengo Province, the Malanje Province and the Cuanza Norte Province. It is spoken by the Ambundu (Ambundu is the short form for Akwa Mbundu and ‘Akwa’ means ‘from’, or ‘of’, or more originally ‘originally from’ and ‘belonging to’. In Kimbundu language the particle Akwa is shortened into simply A, so that instead of Akwa Mbndu it becomes Ambundu; similarly the term Akwa Ngola becomes Angola, then Angola; Ngola was title for kings in Northern Angolan kingdom in the past, before the Portuguese invasion.

The Folklore

As time went by, folklore took on a new meaning, one which we find in “good” dictionaries: “picturesque aspect but without importance, or without profound significance” and the colloquial expression: “it’s folklore, it’s not important”. It was the latter meaning of the word which took hold in Africa. Thus, we can deduce that the word “folklores” was used to describe certain art forms which to Europeans, were associated typically with common people, as opposed to “high culture”.

Ethnolinguistic Group

The largest ethno linguistic group in Angola has distinct cultural profiles as well as different political loyalties. Most numerous are the Ovimbundu, who are located in the central and southern areas and speak Umbundu. The Mbundu are concentrated in the capital, Luanda, and in the central and northern areas and speak Kimbundu. The Bakongo speak variants of the Kikongo language and also live in the north, spanning the borders with Congo and the Congo Republic.

Others Group

Other important groups include the Lundu, Chokwe, and Nganguela peoples, whose settlements are in the east. A small but important minority of mystic’s (Portuguese – Africans) live in larger cities, especially Luanda. Before 1975, Angola had one of the largest white minorities in Africa, many of whom had never seen Portugal, but most left at the threat of independence.

The Syllabus

José N’dongala launched the first official and professional “Kizomba teachers course” syllabus in January 2012 in Belgium. It is the first professional “Kizomba teachers training” syllabus on the market. His Kizomba teachers training program is called José N’dongala Kizombalove Methodology teachers course. He is also the person who officially introduced Kizomba and Semba in Belgium.

•Culled from

Thursday 30 July 2020

Semba History

Musical Genre

Semba is the predecessor of a variety of music styles originated from Angola of which three of the most famous are Samba (from Brazil), Kizomba (from Angola) and Kuduro.

During the 17th century, slavery exported the musical culture of Angola to both North and South America. The sea voyages of the seventeenth century set up an exchange between people from the Iberian peninsula and the Amerindians, which gave rise to new rhythm. The Angolan musicians had a common will to live and they absorbed different foreign influences which were Angolan rhythms and dances which slaves had taken away with them, later returning in a modified version and thus influencing Angolan singers who sought their identity in them.

The cultural origins of Angola are tied to the traditions of the central Bantu people and the ancient kingdom of Kongo. Therefore, Semba music has been much influed by their tradition. Furthermore, Kazukuta and Kabetule rhythms strongly influenced Semba music as well. We can say that semba is an alteration of the Kazukuta rhythm.

It is important to understand the lyrics of Semba music. They deal with stories regarding day-to-day life, social events and activities. Often, the message of Semba was also about the freedom of Angola. This was especially relevant during the Angolan War of 1961–1975. Semba lyrics often contained messages of freedom to open the eyes of the people. Tradionally, Semba songs are sung in Kimbundu but also in other 
but also in other national languages such as Umbundo and Kikongo. Other than in Kizomba, Portuguese is not used in traditional Semba music production. However, some young Angolan singers started using Portuguese in modern Semba songs as well.


Barceló de Carvalho, the Angolan singer known as Bonga, is one of the most successful Angolan artists to popularize Semba music internationally. The band Ngola Ritmos also contributed enormously to the spreading of Semba music. This band has done much to maintain our Angolan culture and identity. Other icons include Liceu Vieira Dias, Domingos Van-Dúnem, Mário da Silva Araújo, Manuel dos Passos and Nino Ndongo.

We believe that tradional music such as Semba will continue being an important part of Angolan history as it contains information about the country’s past. Music is maybe the purest of all arts which enables us to pass on the strongest and purest emotions.

Antonio de Assis Junior (1877-1960) “was the first president of the African National League in 1930”. He published a wonderful Kimbundu-Portuguese dictionary, which also contained proverbs. Voto Neves “used to be the treasurer of Luanda Municipal Council.” He played guitar and sang African and Portuguese songs. He could read music and even taught it. He developed his own opinions on the subject “he explained the similarity, at least in the sweet melody, between Brazilian and Angolan music, saying that music from Baia itself had African roots” “Liceu”(1919-1994) defended the same theory some years later.

•Culled from

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Ovambo: The Largest Ethnic Group in Namibia

Namibia is a relatively small country, averaging just three people per square kilometer and totaling barely over two million people, but has an incredibly diverse culture. There are 12 different major ethnic groups with a large range of tribes among them, and about 30 unique languages are spoken throughout the country. The largest of these ethnic groups is The Ovambo people.

The Aawambo, or Ovambo, people are one of Namibia’s most vibrant tribes. They have retained many aspects of their cultural practices, despite concerted efforts – especially those of Christian missionaries – to wipe out what was believed to be ‘pagan practices’.

The Ovambo people (pronounced [ovambo], also called Aawambo, Ambo, Aawambo (Ndonga, Nghandjera, Kwambi, Mbalantu) or Ovawambo (Kwanyama), are a Southern African tribal ethnic group. They are found in Namibia’s northern regions and more often called Ovambo. They are also found in southern Angolan province of Cunene where the name Ambo is more common. The Ovambo consist of a number of kindred Bantu ethnic tribes who inhabit what was formerly called Owamboland. Accounting for about fifty percent of the Namibian population, the Ovambo are its largest ethnic group. In Angola, they are a minority, accounting for about two percent of the total Angolan population.

Omaongo festival

The Ambo people migrated south from the upper regions of Zambezi in the period around the 14th century. The contemporary total Ambo population is about 1.6 million, and they are predominantly Christians (97%).The Ambo are an ethnolinguist group and speak Ovambo language, also called Oshiwambo, Ambo, Kwanyama, or Oshiwambo, a language that belongs to the southern branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages.

The Ovambo people are an amalgamation of diverse agricultural Bantu-speaking people occupying international border regions of southern Angola and northern Namibia, popularly known as Ovamboland. The Ovambo people are by far the largest ethnic group in Namibia and make up just over half the population.

The Ovambo is actively involved in the politics of Namibia. SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organisation), the current ruling party started as non-violent pressure group in Ovamboland and was led by tow great Ovambo people, Herman Toivo ya Toivo and Samuel Shafiishuna Nujoma (the first elected president). The current President Hifikepunye Pohamba is also an Ovambo.

Image source:

Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba who served as the second President of Namibia from 21 March 2005 to 21 March 2015 is also an Ovambo. He won the 2004 election overwhelmingly as the candidate of SWAPO, the ruling party, and he was re-elected in the 2009 election.

Historical landmarks

A good opportunity to learn about Owambo culture firsthand is by visiting the Uukwaluudhi Traditional Homestead at Tsandi in the Omusati Region. Uukwaluudhi, one of very few traditional kingdoms still in existence, is occupied by the King of the Tsandi area, which falls within the Uukwaluudhi Conservancy. Trained local guides take visitors through the homestead, pointing out the customs and history of these complex family homes.

The Nakambale Museum and Restcamp is a community-based tourism institution established at Olukonda in 1995 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN). It offers exhibitions on the premises of the National Monument, where the Nakambale Church was built in 1870 when the first Finnish missionaries settled in Owambo. The church is flanked by the Nakambale Cemetery, where Finnish missionary Martti Rautanen, some of his family members, and a number of traditional leaders were laid to rest.

Guided excursions to sites of interest such as the Oponono Lake, Omandongo mission station, Onoolongo cattle post and Ombagu grass plains are also offered. Visitors are treated to traditional Owambo food, music and dancing. A visit can be arranged to the historical Omuguluwombase, where the guerrilla warfare waged by SWAPO forces for Namibia’s independence was launched.

The Owambo people today

Today only three of the Owambo clans – the Ndonga, Ngandjera and Kwaluudhi – still recognise their kings and are ruled by chiefs-in-council. The rest have a system of senior headmen forming a council and administering their tribes by joint action. An important function of these officials is the regulation of the system of land ownership. About a quarter of the Owambo regions has been claimed by individual landowners, each occupying farms of several thousand hectares.


Aawambo are easily recognisable by what they wear. Their most popular clothing item, the odelela cloth, is used to make long dresses with puffy short sleeves, skirts, and even shirts for men. The cloth has been widely modernised and is also used on the traditional garments of other tribes like the Ovaherero and the Namas. When it comes to weddings, traditional ceremonies like olufuko, the odelela skirt is adorned with waist beads, shells and animal hide belts that are all worn differently depending on a woman’s age and marital status.

Image source:

The correct way of wearing traditional attire is something that some are starting to forget, with elders stressing the need to not only relearn but also preserve all cultural practices. Lucina Kangete, a retired woman based in Windhoek but originally from the Okongo village in the Ohangwena, is of the opinion that culture is at risk of dying due to some people’s lack of interest in preserving it. She says, “You’ll find people telling you that they don’t do certain things in their families, but it often turns out that they are just not aware of how things are done. Many families do things differently, but the traditions are mostly uniform.”

Fortunately, various events, such as the Olufuko and Omagongo festivals, are used as opportunities to expose the young and old from this rich tribe about its cultural practices. These traditions were and still are at risk of dying out due to western influence.

•culled from

Tuesday 28 July 2020



The oldest surviving style of music in Algeria, and throughout it’s neighboring North African countries, is Andalus, which takes its name from the area of southern Spain in which it developed before migrating to the Maghreb. Andalus was developed by Persian musicians, and continued by the local Muslim population who were forced to leave southern Spain during the Reconquista. Andalus is based upon the Nuba, suites of music constructed around musical modes. There were originally 24 Nuba, although only 16 have survived and continue to be performed in Algeria. There are regional variations in the styles of Andalus found in Algeria, with the major Algerian cities each continuing the tradition of different Spanish Andalusian region. There are a number of traditional instruments found in performances of Andalus, including the rabab (a bowed instrument similar to a violin), tambur (tambourine), and darbuka (goblet drum), and throughout the twentieth century western orchestral instruments also began to be used. Andalus is highly respected in Algeria and holds a similar social position to classical music in Europe.

Whilst Andalus remained for many years the music of Algeria’s elite, a poetic style known as Melhûn or Bedoui was performed on the streets of the cities by Cheikhs, respected male musicians and storytellers. The poems, which were often long and complex, were supported by simple musical accompaniment performed on the guellal (drum) and and gasba (flute).

In the early decades of the Twentieth century, a genre known as Hawzi developed in Algiers from the local style of Andalus, and was often performed by Jewish musicians and female singers.


Chaabi, which means ‘folk’, is a style of music that evoved in the Casbah district of Algiers in the 19th century from Andalus classical music, and is different from the style which shares the same name in Morocco. It remains one of the most popular musics amongst Algerians, and is often performed at weddings and other gatherings. Like Andalus, it features singing over a small ensemble of musicians playing stringed and percussive instruments, and the lyrics are based upon poetic verses that deal with issues of love, loss and betrayal, leading commentators to compare it with Spanish Flamenco.  The more traditional style, called Chaabi-Melhûn, was made popular by the master musician Hadj Mohamed El-Anka, and features pieces which can last between ten and forty minutes. A more popular style of Chaabi developed in the 1950s and involves much shorter songs, and many of these have been recorded and released commercially. Perhaps the most famous popular Chaabi singer was Dahmane El Harrachi whose song Ya Rayah is known throughout North Africa. A documentary film by Irish-based Safinez Bousbia was released in 2011 and tells the story of the ‘El Gusto’ Chaabi orchestra of Algiers, which contains both Muslim and Jewish musicians.


The most internationally famous Algerian style of music is undoubtedly Raï, which became known throughout Europe and America in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to star musicians like Cheb Khaled and Chab Mami, the latter having performed with Sting on his hit Desert Rose. Raï was born in the western Algerian city of Oran, where the music of local street performers mixed with the jazz and other non-Algerian musics, heard on the radio and imported records. Many of the earliest performers of the music that would eventually become Raï were women, and the most famous of these was Chikha Remitti, often known as the grandmother of Raï. After Algeria gained independence from France in 1962, Raï became increasing popular amongst the country’s youth as the musicians introduced electric instruments and were influenced by reggae and other non-Algerian styles, creating a genre commonly known as pop-Raï. The music did not initially find favour with the Algerian authorities because of the crudeness of many lyrics, but this was relaxed in the mid-1980s because Raï had become so popular, both in Algeria and internationally. Many of the leading stars of Raï moved to France during the 1980s, where they recorded albums for major record labels and toured internationally, introducing Algerian music to a whole new audience.


The northeastern region of Kabylie is home to the majority of Algeria’s Berber population, whose culture is based upon a tradition of storytelling, and folk song and dance. Kabyle music is traditionally very rhythmic, with musicians performing on the t’bel (tambourine), bendir (frame drum) and ghaita (a type of bagpipes). Many Kabyle Berbers emigrated to France and music became particularly important to the diasporic community established in Paris, where Slimane Azem became a star. The 1970s saw a number of Kabyle musicians gaining fame, and the song A Vava Inouva, written and performed by singer Idir and based upon traditional Berber poetry, became particularly popular. At the same time, his contemporary Aït Menguellet also became internationally famous, and the 1980s saw the rise to prominence of Lounès Matoub, a politically-motivated singer who demanded recognition for Berber culture in Algeria. Kayblie continues to produce many popular musicians, including female stars such as Souad Massi and Iness Mezel, who have gained commercial success in Europe.

A notable Algerian rap scene developed in the 1990s, particularly within the diaspora in France. Today, Algerian musicians perform both traditional and contemporary musical styles, and continue to fuse together disparate musical styles in the same way as their ancestors, creating a diverse and exciting musical culture.

Written by Stephen Wilford

•culled from


Monday 27 July 2020

Algerian Folk Music


Algerian music and dance follow in the Arabic tradition. Arabic music tells tradition and often recounts tales of love, honor, and family. The musical world in Algeria has many different melodies. Even though their traditional music is still played and loved, the younger generation of musicians is making an impact on the music in Algeria. Local instruments such as the Oud (a stringed) and maqrunah (an Arabic wind instrument which can be fitted with a pouch) provide unique regional sounds.  At the same time there are many different types of music in Algeria for example Rai and Chaabi they are the most famous music in Algeria so far.

Rai Music

Rai is a popular music that began in Algeria in the 1930s, combining with traditional Algerian folk music with Spanish, French, African and Arabic musical forms. Rai literally means opinion. Rai music is traditionally sung by men, but when the 20th century arrived Rai music was also sang by woman. Rai singers in the early 1930s were singing about social issues which affected native populations. Rai music today blends hip hop, rock, funk, blues and with North African beats and rhythms.

Chaabi Melody

Chaabi is the name for the folk music of Algeria, which goes back to medieval days when musicians came over to North Africa from Spain. Chaabi music is played in smoke-filled corners of the Algeria. Unlike other musicians and storytellers in other parts of Algeria, Chaabi players do not sing the country’s social history,
but they sing songs that speak of personal themes such as love and loss. These widely known traditional songs are widely recognized by many Algerians. Younger audiences prefer shorter and more modern types of music.

Traditional Dance

Algeria’s dance information is really rare so below there is a video about the traditional dance of Algeria.

•culled from

Cultural Events in Mozambique

Mozambique has a number of cultural events and festivals throughout the year. Music, art, dance and local culture are celebrated countrywide, with visiting artists adding their own unique flair to the festivities. Here is a brief insight into upcoming annual activities


AZGO Festival in Maputo (the capital city)

This is an annual international music festival which takes place over 3 days in the outdoors. There will be different types of bands featured, music documentaries and workshops. Additional facilities include a food court and restaurants, stalls for food and drink as well as designer fashion, merchandising and crafts.

STRAB Festival in Ponta Malongane (near the South African border)

STRAB is the abbreviation for the Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience, an annual music festival which started out as live entertainment for a birthday bash held by a group of scuba divers in 2003. It has grown over the years and now features about 20 live bands. Since 2008 STRAB has continued to provide exposure to bands from rock to blues to jazz to fusions of these.

This will always be an exclusive event due to the size and capacity of this stunning beach location, it is however well established and fully supported by committed music lovers who engage with the festival's philosophy of respect, love and harmony. There will be a great beach party followed by the official festival.


Independence Day Festivities in Maputo (public holiday) 

Independence Day is celebrated in June. The festivities include live performances and traditional dancing. The national stadium is the venue for a fantastic concert during which many celebrated Mozambique bands perform. The President often attends and addresses the attendees. Many cultural events such as poetry, dancing and visual arts take place the week before.


TAMBO International Art Camp / Festival in Pemba (Cabo Delgado Province)

The city of Pemba hosts this colourful festival that celebrates cultural diversity through art, dance, theatre and music performances. Visitors will enjoy 7 days in which to make art, exchange ideas and enjoy various kinds of workshops. There will be live performances and opportunities to interact with traditional artists from Pemba and other parts of the world.

CHOPI Music Festival - end July into August in Quissico (Inhambane Province)

This traditional festival is a way to preserve the unique music heritage of this region. The mbila is an amazing handmade xylophone played in large groups. This musical heritage has been recognised by UNESCO in 2005. The Chopi play traditional instruments such as whistles, animal horns, panpipes, drums and rattles. One of their most distinctive instruments is a flute made from the shell of a bush orange.


FORR Festival
The Fellowship of Rock & Roll (FORR) is an annual rock festival where a number of great bands perform. In previous years this event took place in Ponta Malongane.

•Culled from


Looking for a tropical African oasis to spice up your vacation time? Then Mozambique is the place to be.

This Portuguese speaking nation is nestled in south eastern Africa just below Tanzania. Mozambique rests alongside the pristine turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.

But Mozambique is much more than her balmy beaches and serene lakes. The country boasts a rich cultural heritage of struggle and liberation. As a result, Mozambican history is intertwined with several lively festivities.

Keep reading to discover seven cultural festivals you don’t want to miss in Mozambique.


Pay homage to those who resisted colonial rule at the annual Gwaza Muthini Festival. This event takes place in Marracuene town, about 30 km north of Maputo.

Every year locals come together with traditional food, song, and dance. The celebrations honor those who died in the 1895 Battle of Marracuene.

And don’t leave Marracuene without taking a swig of some Canhu. It’s a traditional beer made from the local Amarula tree. Entry is free.


Yearning to experience the mesmerizing arts and culture scene of southern Africa? Then you won’t want to miss the AGZO Festival held annually in Maputo.

This international arts festival showcases the region’s finest musicians, artists, and filmmakers. It’s three days of captivating performances from local and international artists. And it puts Mozambique on the map as a premier destination for music lovers.

'AGZO' is an old Maputo slang that means, "let's go". So, go and mark your calendars now for May. You don’t want to miss the AGZO experience.


Another Mozambican festivity to attend is an Independence Day celebration. You can observe the day in a small village or attend a larger parade in Maputo. You’ll find lively parties and ceremonies across the country.

Want to catch a glimpse of Mozambique’s Commander In Chief? See President Nyusi in real time with his military procession in the national parade.


Culture enthusiasts will be captivated at Mozambique’s yearly Chopi Festival. This event showcases the musical heritage of the Chopi people.

Listen to traditional songs played with instruments like the timbila, unique to Mozambique. And prepare to be wowed by the talent of the elder Chopi musicians. If you’re a buff of ancestral heritage, this festival will leave you enchanted.


Drive north to the port city of Pemba for Mozambique’s Tambo International Art Camp. This week long affair flaunts the culture and tradition of local and international artists. It also promotes cultural exchange. This is because visitors get the chance to swap creative art ideas with locals.

It also promotes cultural exchange. This is because visitors get the chance to swap creative art ideas with locals.

Celebrate cultural diversity through the camp’s art, dance, theatre and music performances.


Move your hips to the rhythms of Marrabenta, Mozambique’s national music. This style of dance hails back to 1930s-1940s Maputo. It remains wildly popular on Mozambique's dance scene to this day.

The Marrabenta Festival is known for being one of Mozambique’s liveliest fests. You’ll be seduced by the rhythmical performances of this historic music genre.

The festival also coincides with the Gwaza Muthini Festival. Help preserve Marrabenta by joining in on this annual fest.


Lose yourself in the beauty of modern African dance at the Kinani Contemporary Dance Festival. This event held annually at venues around Maputo promotes contemporary African dance.

Attendees can expect a medley of dance performances, workshops and discussions with local and international art scenes reps. Each year a different theme is chosen in celebration of modern African dance.

•culled from

Saturday 25 July 2020

The World Music Culture Gnaoua | Morocco Culture

Gnaoua The World Musical Festival:

Every Year the world Music culture or festival is organized in the Essaouira, which is the city of Morocco. Morocco is located in Continent Africa. About 500,000 People from all around the world are visiting Gnaoua Festival and increasing in number each year. People enjoy all the genres of music in Gnaoua traditional style including Jazz, Hip-hop, Blues, Bass And Much more.

This Festival is organized in June each year for four days. Gnaoua is first celebrated in 1998 for promoting  the Music and Art. The Gnaoua music uses three musical instruments which are drums ( tbel ), lutes 
( hajhouj ) and castanets ( qraqeb ) contain one of the musical lines which repeat again and again.

The traditional Songs of Gnaoua music are foreign artists and the mystical Gnaoua musicians. The environment of Gnaoua Festival is friendly that they can meet Gnaoua Artists enjoying with coffee and tea.

•culled from

Friday 24 July 2020

Cavadee Festival | Mauritius Culture

Cavadee :

Cavadee is the word like religious spell and that is an old tradition. Cavadee culture is followed by the exotic tribal rituals, which begins of an antique or ancient Tamil legend. A story about Idumban, a very proudful name. Idumban has a master(guru) known as "Agattiyar". One day the master commands the Idumban to go to mountains and return with two summits for Cavadee (which means loads which are carried by a stick). Idumban was Loyal and Honest with his master so he started his journey along with his wife.

Cavadee Festival:

Cavadee is the festival of faith and belief. The Thaipoosam Cavadee is the most unique, ancient, and popular Cavadee for the Tamils of Mauritius. Which is Organized in January and sometimes in February? People who want to participate in this festival they must be Honest and have belief on the Sacrifice of Idumban.

The participators have to be strong physically. Because they use Sharp needles, Long metal and Silver Pikes that pierce through their Hands, Legs, Tongue, Forehead, Cheeks etc.

This Festival is celebrated by the memorial Sacrifice of Idumban. The people of Mauritius are strong and faithful to use these dangerous instruments without any fear because they have faith in their Culture.

•culled from

Thursday 23 July 2020


Folk music in West Virginia covers a wide range of styles and instrumentation. At West Virginia University’s West Virginia and Regional History Collection, field recordings show that folk musicians played accordion, banjo, drum, fiddle, fife, guitar, hammered dulcimer, dulcimer, harmonica, jew’s harp, mandolin, organ, piano, and saxophone.

There was also a rich oral ballad tradition. Cecil Sharp came to the southern mountains, including southeastern West Virginia, between 1916 and 1918. He was looking for traces of his native England’s fading folkways. What he found was a trove of old songs, sung unaccompanied, that had been passed on from the first Scotch-Irish settlers and could be traced back to the British Isles.

Variants of the ancient ballad ‘‘Lord Lovell,’’ for example, were found by later collectors in Upshur, Clay, Nicholas, Gilmer, Calhoun, and Marion counties. Other songs were descended from poems or popular songs that passed into oral tradition. Also, there were original songs of murder and tragedy, based on real events, that came from the hearts and imaginations of anonymous singers. Folklorist Patrick Gainer believed that most of West Virginia’s traditional music came down as a cappella singing, sung by practically everyone as part of everyday life and with no instrumental accompaniment.

Although the influence of the British Isles predominated, the music had other roots, as well. Germans migrated from Pennsylvania into present West Virginia in the 18th and 19th centuries. While they have been long assimilated into the larger culture, they left a mark on certain tunes in fiddle repertoires in the state and on parts of West Virginia’s dulcimer heritage.

African-Americans were brought as slaves to work in salt factories and on farms. Later they worked as miners and railroad workers. The black railroad experience has brought us a wealth of songs, and a genuine West Virginia folk hero, John Henry. Henry was a steel-driving man, swinging his hammer to drive long steel bits into rock to make holes for explosives. He met his death in a race with a steam drill at the Big Bend Tunnel on the C&O Railroad in Summers County. Another song, ‘‘John Hardy,’’ now a bluegrass banjo standard, commemorates the rowdier side of labor. The real John Hardy, also an African- American, killed a man in a card game in a McDowell County coal camp. He was hanged for it at Welch in 1894. Twenty years later, the influence of black blues musicians could be heard in 78 rpm recordings of a white country guitar player from Logan County named Frank Hutchison.

The exploitation of West Virginia’s abundant natural resources brought other nationalities from Southern and Eastern Europe. The land itself drew the Swiss to Helvetia in the late 1800s. There the Swiss farm families listened to marches, Old World favorites, and popular American tunes played by the community brass band. Waltzes competed for time with square dances called to Randolph County fiddle tunes.

In Marshall County, the Perkovic family preserved their Croatian heritage of Tambouritzan music on native instruments. They performed on radio station WWVAand toured the coalfields on a semi-professional basis. Some years later, Doc Williams became a mainstay of the Wheeling Jamboree weekly radio program on WWVA. Williams, whose roots also were in Eastern Europe, blended polkas and accordion music into his successful country music career.

Religion has sometimes been at odds with the wild and wooly aspects of West Virginia music, but religion provided its own powerful contribution. A frontier preacher would ‘‘line out’’ how a song went, saying the words for the congregation to repeat in song. This changed in most churches in the 19th century, when singing schools developed. Traveling teachers taught the ‘‘shape-note’’ method to local congregations. Gospel singing, black and white, has been an important part of West Virginia worship ever since. For years, Mount Nebo in Nicholas County has been the site of several large gospel singing conventions each summer.

Community music is still thriving. Square dancing is alive and well in West Virginia, and community centers and private clubs across the state present bluegrass and old-time music. Charleston, the capital city, is home to a community brass band.

The folk revival of the late 1950s and ’60s, followed by the back-to-the-land movement of the ’60s and ’70s, brought renewed interest in West Virginia culture and local music. Gatherings such as the West Virginia Folk Festival at Glenville mushroomed as young people from the North and East flocked to hear authentic fiddling and see flatfoot dancing. Other festivals were established, including the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee at Jackson’s Mill and the Vandalia Gathering at the Capitol Complex in Charleston.

West Virginia music and musicians began to reach a larger audience. Small record labels recorded the music of heretofore obscure local fiddlers and singers. A film, The Morris Brothers Old-time Music Festival, captures part of this exciting time.

One such project was undertaken with the cooperation of the Hammons family in Pocahontas County by folklorists from the Library of Congress. This work provided the full context of West Virginia folk music, including stories and family and local history, a record of the joy, sorrow, and hard work of everyday lives.

•By Paul Garner

•culled from

Wednesday 22 July 2020

The Art of the Mauritanian Griots On Display at Fes Festival

Coumbane Mint Ely Warakane - Mauritania
The art of the Mauritanian griots.

The Griot.

One day, the great Sufi master Lal Shahbaz Qalander was wandering in the desert with his companion, Baha ud-Din. It was winter and the night was cold, so they wanted to make a fire. Baha ud-Din suggested to Lal Shahbaz that he should change himself into a falcon and go to fetch the fire of hell. So he flew away, but returned empty-handed. ‘There is no fire in hell', he said. 'Those who go there take their own fire and their own suffering from this world.’

The art of the Mauritanian griots is full of classical wisdom. An expression of Ghassanid culture, it is an extraordinary point of convergence between the Arabo-Berber world and the West African world. Like all traditional poetry, it is the fruit of revelation.

' ... He was an unknown musician, under the Ulad Mbarak, who worked as a groom. Falling asleep under a tree, he dreamt that the Prophet Mohammed came to him and spat into his mouth. When he awoke, his throat was swollen and only singing could remedy it. From that moment, he had within him an infinite source of music and poetry which flowed abundantly without any effort on his part'. - Musique, Honneur et Plaisir au Sahara - Michel Guignard

In the poetry of the desert, water and trees become metaphors for a vision of paradise, the oasis is the desert incarnation of the bustân, the hidden garden that is a symbol of Arabo-Andalusian civilisation.

Mauritania remains the link between north Africa and black Africa. In 11th century Morocco, the Almoravid empire came to power and took Islam to new lands in the south.

Popular poetry is sung in hassaniyya, the local Arabic dialect, while classical poems such as the old qasîdas, a kind of epic poem, are sung in classical Arabic.

For some, the word that best describes the griot is iggiw, which would originally have been from the Wolof gêwel; for others, it's the Arabic îqa , meaning rhythm. But the most likely source is of Berber origin:
iggiw (from awi and iwi) meaning to carry, to report or to improvise.

The Concert

There was a sense of joy about this performance from the moment that Mint Ely Warakane, her three backing singers and two male musicians walked onto the stage. The four women sat along a low banquette, positioning their mikes and the males, a drummer and a tidinit (Sudanese lute) player sat stage right.

The Griot.

The women were all thoroughly swathed in plasticky looking glazed fabric – Mint Ely Warakane in brown, the others in blue – and looked like they’d remain bone dry should this sunny afternoon turn foul. As the backing singers cuffs slipped back with vigorous clapping some serious bling such as crystal bracelets and thick gold rope was revealed.

As soon as the performance began, the audience forgot stoushes over seating and shared the mood set by Mint Ely Warakane’s gorgeous grin. Picking up her
ardin (Moorish harp) patterned with geometric lines stained onto the large calabash, her hands gestured out toward the crowd in rhythmic clicking and twirling motions. The movements made were as intricate and precise as the henna art that adorned her hands.

" a illaha il Allah " Mint Ely Warakane's voice boomed, this proclamation of her Islamic faith ringing out across the crowd. Griots, otherwise known as storytellers, bards or lyrical diplomats, often begin their performance by praising God, before launching into a lyrical poem celebrating the prophet Muhammad. The chorus, consisting of her daughter Lemate mint Soukabe, and niece Yaghouta Ahmedou El-Meydah along with a fellow ardin player then joined in, enthusiastically responding to Mint Ely Warakane's powerful, slightly husky tone.

During the second piece, her hands rose in the air, and Mint Ely Warakane invited attendees to clap along with the music; a wonderfully involved moment that would continue throughout the afternoon. It was also during these moments that her natural gift of engagement, of meaningful connection and story-telling was highly evident.

Coumbane Mint Ely Warakane hails from long line of griots from Trarza in southwest Mauritania, and while she is not as well-known as other griots, all who experience her story-telling, instrumental skills and ability to connect with her crowd leave in an almost enlightened state. Her non-verbal gestures at once translate the Hassaniya (Arabic dialect of Mauritania) and Classical Arabic she recites, and break down barriers between those on stage and those in the crowd. Attendees at this afternoon's event were enveloped by her presence, and through this Mint Ely Warakane took the crowd on a musical journey of tradition, passion, religion and history.

She sang with a powerful earthy voice, gesturing with her hennaed hands, long nails lacquered, and only giving herself a pause from time to time to tune her instrument. All the women were absolute belters, singing from deep within. This as the roots of gospel or even a prototype of Diana Ross and the Supremes was an idea hard to shake.

The Griot.

Both Mint Ely Warakane and her tidinit player have a command over their instruments akin to that of a professional tennis player and their racquet --the ardin and tidinit appear an extension of the Self; no space or barrier exists between instrument and artist. The almost careless precision exhibited by the two was -at times- unbelievable; Mint Ely Warakane's fingers would absentmindedly flick over the 15 strings as if shoo-ing away a fly, yet produce a colorful melody which perfectly accompanied her lyrical conversation and powerful vocal assertions.

Anyone who thought a drummer needed a massive kit and a mane of rock God hair to put on a show should have seen Mint Ely Warakane's percussionist. Between producing a deep thud on the taut animal skin he could probably feel in his chest, he’d stand, twirl and be back on the ground by the next beat to do it again. Flailing an arm behind him was the cue for Warakane to bring her ardin within striking distance, expanding his drum kit to two - but his act tenfold.

Frenzied clapping had some even elderly audience members propelling themselves off their seats. So the standing ovation and calls for encores was no surprise, it was a given.

This afternoon's griot concert took attendees on a narrative journey using lyrics, instruments and non-verbal communication, and imparted a small slice of Mauritanian culture and lyrical tradition. It was an enlightening, joyful, wonderful experience, enriched by the sparkling smile of Coumbane Mint Ely Warakane.

The Griot.

Fes Festival program
Fes Festival Medina Map
Fes Festival Food!
Fes Festival Site

Text: Stephanie Clifford-Smith and Natasha Christov, additional material, Sandy McCutcheon
Photographs: Suzanna Clarke, Sandy McCutcheon

•culled from

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Mauritanian Artist Mixes Traditional Music and Modern Rhythms

Hayy Festival kicks off with Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali performing for the first time in Egypt at the outdoor El-Geneina Theatre.

Noura Mint Seymali performing at Hayy festival at El-Genaina theater. (Photo: Bassam Al-Zoghby)

On Thursday, 18 July, Mauritanian artist Noura Mint Seymali gave a concert at El-Geneina Theatre in Al-Azhar Park, opening this year's Hayy Festival organised annually by Cultural Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy).

This is the first time for Seymali to perform in Egypt, as well as the first time that El-Geneina Theatre hosts a musician from Mauritania.

Noura Mint Seymali was born in Mauritania in a musical family, where she started as a backing vocalist with singer Dimi Mint Abbas, one of the most renowned singers of the country.

Seymali's father was a music professor, known for composing music for Mauritanian artists.

While developing musically, in her early 20s, Seymali launched her own music ensemble. At the beginning, she performed traditional Mauritanian music only, but soon moved to fusing a variety of genres.

“By 2004, I started to mix between two types of music: Western music and African/Eastern music,” Seymali told Ahram Online.

Seymali’s goal was to spread Mauritanian music around the world and to make it available for diverse kinds of audiences.

She performed internationally at Festival au-Desert in Mali, Festival Pirineos in Spain, and Festival Timitar in Morocco.

After gracing the Egyptian audience with her performance in Cairo, 18 July, Seymali's plans include playing the Francophone Festival in France before embarking on a tour of the United States later this year.

Noura Mint Seymali and her ensemble.
(Photo: Bassam Al-Zoghby)

Seymali blends several musical genres, her music carrying distinctive elements from folk, reggae, blues, hip hop and zouk.

However, she asserts that sometimes this fusion can be risky, as some people do not accept this kind of experimentation, preferring traditional tunes.

But Seymali explains that she is still strongly linked to the traditional music by keeping authenticity in mind and "reflecting heritage through rhythm,” in her words.

Blending the sounds of the tidinit and guitars created a distinctive tune. (Photo: Bassam Al-Zoghby)

“In Mauritania, for example, it is difficult for local audiences to accept Western music because they really love and respect their traditional music. Nevertheless, this blend attracts some audiences,” Seymali said.

During the Cairo concert, Seymali engaged with the audience asking them to join her on stage and dance. The blend of tidinit (the traditional lute) with electric guitar and drums encouraged the audience to answer Seymali’s call.

The audience's enjoyment was evident in cheerful crowds asking Seymali for several encores.

Interacting with the music, the audience created a dance floor in front of the stage. (Photo: Bassam Al-Zoghby)

But Seymali's concert was not only about captivating music. Her lyrics address critical topics, such as the role of women in Islamic society, desertification, economic development, national unity, terrorism and romance, in addition to religious chanting and historical folk narratives.

"The choice of the theme is important to consider before making the music. Music carries messages to the people and that’s what I do, so that people develop better understanding on various topics,” Seymali revealed.

Currently, Seymali is working on new song dealing with the issue of breast cancer, which was the reason of death of her mother.

Electric guitarist gives an original scent to the traditional sounds. (Photo: Bassam Al-Zoghby)

Seymali's concert was the first one in the Hayy Festival series organised by the Cultural Resource.

This year, the festival includes five concerts from various countries to promote Arab-African cultural heritage, including artists from Tunisia, Palestine, Iraq and Morocco.

•By Adham Yousef and Engy Adham

•culled from

Sunday 19 July 2020

Mali Celebrates Mask and Puppet Culture

Malians celebrated their cultural heritage at a recent festival showcasing traditional masks and puppets.

In the West African country of Mali, masks and puppets play an important role in traditional culture.  Despite the influence of the modern world, that importance remains.  But now, it is also being shared with the outside world. Malians celebrated their cultural heritage at a recent festival showcasing those traditional masks and puppets. 

The purpose of the "Festival des Masques et Marionettes,"  - "Festival of Masks and Puppets" - in the major city of Segou, is to preserve the culture of Malli's Dogon people. The Dogon are best known for their masked dances, wooden sculptures and architecture. Dances and parades are used to tell the story of the works.

"The masks in their original forms represent all our philosophical, social and cultural thinking," Amadou Fantasa Masa, village elder explained. "Each mask has its significance and its meaning. Each is a symbol of something."

The Malian young dancers. © Google

The festival started in 1996 as a way of helping the various village groups by paying for their performances. One attraction this year was a collaboration between  Dogon from the near-by village of Markala with those from the more-distant village of Amani. 

In the Dogon culture, masks were originally made only by women, but men would take them away to perform their own ceremonies. Ankene Ouologuem, a member of the Markala Dogon, explains, "The men have seen that these masks are very beautiful and they have taken them away from the women to perform their own rites but they pay tribute to the women as inventors of the masks."

Traditionally, masks were only used for community gatherings.  But now, the Dogon have become willing to show them to tourists at festivals like this one. 

"It's brilliant here, but most notably, it is a Malian festival and lots of them come together and create a very good ambiance. We are accepted amongst them and this is really very good," says Brigitte Joussen who works with German embassy in Mali.

More than 20 groups from all over Mali were invited for this year's festival.

•By Mariama Diallo

•culled from

Saturday 18 July 2020

A History of Washington Music in Ten Songs

If you haven’t heard music from these Washington State artists, you haven’t heard music.

Washington State is on the edge – the geographical edge of the continental United States, and the cutting edge of music. Throughout its history, Washington’s remote location and raw materials have inspired innovation and experimentation in both industry and in music, with Northwest bands driven by D.I.Y. sensibilities and a healthy rebellion against convention. Grassroots forces formed whole styles and whole scenes here, and homegrown sounds continue to echo throughout our state.

1. Bing Crosby, “Black Ball Ferry Line” (1951)

It was in the unique acoustics of Spokane’s Clemmer Theater that Bing Crosby developed his trademark singing style. His phenomenal success as a vocalist led to his ultimate rise as the world’s first multimedia star. He recorded “Black Ball Ferry Line” in 1951, namechecking his home state’s famous ferries.

2. Bonnie Guitar, “Dark Moon” (1957)

Out of Washington’s thriving 1950s country music scene arose guitarist and vocalist Bonnie Guitar—the Northwest’s first country music star. Her crossover 1957 single “Dark Moon” was her first national hit. Bonnie currently lives in Soap Lake, Washington; is in her 90s; and reportedly still plays out occasionally.

3. The Wailers, “Louie Louie” (1961)

Northwest anthem “Louie Louie” started as a calypso-doo wop song by Louisiana native Richard Berry, who first recorded it in 1957. When Berry toured the Northwest, The Wailers picked up the song, and their version became a local favorite. The rough garage rock sounds of The Wailers, The Frantics, and The Sonics had a great impact on the development of grunge.

4. The Ventures, “Walk, Don’t Run” (1964)

Instrumental band The Ventures popularized the surf sound. The Tacoma group still performs today, over a half-century after recording the classic “Walk, Don’t Run,” one of those songs you know even if you don’t think you do.

5. Jimi Hendrix, “Spanish Castle Magic” (1967)

Seattle’s Jimi Hendrix is known today as the greatest rock guitarist not only of his generation, but…ever. His rock and roll classroom was The Spanish Castle, a club located on Highway 99 between Tacoma and Seattle. Their roster included some of the great acts in the early days of rock and roll, including the guitar and organ-driven sounds of Northwest bands The Sonics, The Wailers, and the Dave Lewis Trio. After seeing many amazing shows there, what a thrill it must have been when Hendrix eventually entered the Spanish Castle as a performer. Hendrix recorded “Spanish Castle Magic” in 1967, just a few months before the club was demolished.

6. The Overton Berry Trio, “Hey Jude” (1970)

Say what? There was a time in the early ‘70s when, in the unlikely location of Tukwila, a thriving scene flourished in the lounge of The The DoubleTree Inn, with the Overton Berry Trio at its nexus. The electricity of their jazz-infused blend of traditional, swing, and pop music was a magnet for an audience living outside the city limits. Overton wowed audiences with his keyboard improvisations on “Hey Jude.” The trio’s cover became a signature song of the Northwest’s funk and soul scene and an underground favorite of DJs worldwide.

7. Sir Mix-a-Lot, “Posse On Broadway” (1988)

Washington’s hip hop scene began to emerge in the 1980s with Sir Mix-a-Lot. His first hit was the 1988 single “Posse on Broadway,” which takes a lyrical cruise through south Seattle on the way to Capitol Hill’s main drag.

8. Nirvana, “Love Buzz” (1988)

By the time Nirvana catapulted to national stardom in 1991, the local music scene was heady with the underground sound of what became known as grunge. Nirvana’s local breakthrough was their 1988 cover of “Love Buzz,” a song that incorporated just enough pop sensibility to make the band’s hard-core dynamics accessible.

9. Fleet Foxes, “White Winter Hymnal” (2008)

Capturing the bleakness of the long Northwest winters, mountain-echo flannel quintet Fleet Foxes play self-described “baroque harmonic pop jams.” Their beardy folk pop aesthetic and minimalist style stood out in contrast to the glossy production values of mainstream music, and they rose to prominence both in spite of—and because of—that style.

10. Macklemore, “Thrift Shop” (2012)

Washington native Macklemore broke records with his 2012 single “Thrift Shop,” a tribute to Seattle’s secondhand stores and a social commentary on bling. As the only independent artist in the 21st century to score a hit on the Billboard Top 100, Macklemore points the way to new directions and distribution models for music.

Have a song you think should be added? Tell us in the comments!


•culled from

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