Sub-Saharan African music traditions

Sub-Saharan African music traditions
A Mangbetu man playing an African harp

Sub-Saharan African music traditions exhibit so many common features that they may in some respects be thought of as constituting a single musical system.[1] While some African music is clearly contemporary-popular music and some is art-music, still a great deal is communal and orally transmitted while still qualifying as a religious or courtly genre. The music of the Luo, for example, is functional, used for ceremonial, religious, political or incidental purposes, during funerals (Tero buru) to praise the departed, to console the bereaved, to keep people awake at night, to express pain and agony and during cleansing and chasing away of spirits, during beer parties (Dudu, ohangla dance), welcoming back the warriors from a war, during a wrestling match (Ramogi), during courtship, in rain making and during divination and healing. Work songs are performed both during communal work like building, weeding, etc. and individual work like pounding of cereals, winnowing.



Geo-political map of Africa divided for ethnomusicological purposes, after Merriam, 1959.

Alan P. Merriam divided Africa into seven regions for ethnomusicological purposes, observing current political frontiers (see map), and this article follows this division as far as possible in surveying the music of ethnic groups in Africa. Music of the northern region of Africa (red on the map), including that of the Horn of Africa (dark green on the map), is mostly treated separately under Middle Eastern and North African music traditions.

The music of Sudan (turquoise on the map) indicates the difficulty of dividing music traditions according to state frontiers. The musicology of Sudan involves some 133 language communities.[2] that speak over 400 dialects,[3] Afro-Asian, Nilotic and Niger–Congo. The state of Sudan takes its name from the northern sub-saharan savanna which makes, with the Nile, a great cross-roads of the region.

It is the remaining four regions that are mainly thought typical of Sub-Saharan African music: familiar African musical elements such as the use of cross-beat and vocal harmony may be found all over all four regions, as may be some instruments such as the iron bell. This is largely due to the exoansion of the Niger–Congo-speaking people that began around 1500 BC: the Urewe nucleus of the Eastern Bantu was formed in Central Africa by 1000–500 BC and the Congo nucleus 500 BC–0, from where there was a southward advance. The last phases of expansion were 0–1000 AD.[4][5][6] Only a few scattered languages in this great area cannot readily be associated with the Niger–Congo language family. However two significant non-Bantu musical traditions, the Pygmy music of the Congo jungle and that of the bushmen of the Kalahari, do much to define the music of the central region and of the southern region respectively.

Gambian boy with bowed tin-can lute

Sahel and Sudan

The Sahel (brown) forms a belt up to 1,000 km wide, spanning Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. Southwards are the Sudanian savannas (green)

South of the Sahara the Sahel forms a bio-geographic zone of transition between the desert and the Sudanian Savannas, stretching between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. The Nilotic peoples prominent in southern Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and northern Tanzania, include the Luo, Dinka, Nuer and Maasai.[7] Many of these have been included in the Eastern region. The Senegambian Fula have migrated as far as Sudan at various times, often speaking Arabic as well as their own language. The Hausa people, who speak a language related to Ancient Egyptian and Biblical Hebrew, have migrated in the opposite direction. The music of Sub-Saharan herders and nomads is heard from west to east. Further west the Berber music of the Tuareg has penetrated to Sub-Saharan countries, while the eastern region has received south Asian and even Austronesian influences by yet another route.

  • The Dinka are a mainly agro-pastoral people inhabiting the Bahr el Ghazal region of the Nile basin, Jonglei and parts of southern Kordufan and Upper Nile regions. They number around 1.5 million, about 10% of the population[8] of Sudan.
Saharan trade routes circa 1400
  • The nomadic/pastoral Senegambian Fula people or Tukulor represent 40% of the population of Guinea and have spread to surrounding states and as far as Sudan in the east.[9] In the 19th century they overthrew the Hausa and established the Sokoto Caliphate. The Fula play a variety of traditional instruments including drums, the hoddu or xalam, a plucked skin-covered lute similar to a banjo, and riti or riiti (a one-string bowed instrument similar to a violin), in addition to their vocal music. They also use end-blown bamboo flutes. Instrumentation = fiddle - flute. Other = gawlo.[10]

Early kingdoms were founded in the Lake Chad region. The Kanem Empire, ca. 600 BCE - 1380 CE[11] encompassed much of Chad, Fezzan, east Niger and north-east Nigeria, perhaps founded by the nomadic Zaghawa and then ruled by the Sayfawa Dynasty. The Bornu Empire (1396-1893) was a continuation when the Kanembu founded a new state in Bornu at Ngazargamu. The Kanuri languages spoken by some four million people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon as well as Libya and Sudan are associated with Kanem/Bornu Empire. Flute and drums music. The Kingdom of Baguirmi (also "Sultanate") (1522–1897), was an Islamic kingdom or sultanate that existed southeast of Lake Chad and the Kanem-Bornu Empire. The Ouaddai Empire (1635–1912) (also Wadai) was originally a non-Muslim kingdom, located to the east of Lake Chad that emerged as an offshoot of the Sultanate of Darfur to the northeast of the Baguirmi.

The music of West Africa shares, in its northernmost and westernmost parts, many of these transnational north sub-Saharan ethnic influences. Complex societies existed in the region from about 1500 BCE. The Ghana Empire[12] existed from before c. 830 until c. 1235 in what is now south-east Mauritania and western Mali. The Sosso people took its capital Koumbi Saleh but at the Battle of Kirina (c. 1240) Sundiata Keita's alliance defeated the Sosso and began the Mali Empire, which spread its influence along the Niger River through numerous vassal kingdoms and provinces. The Gao Empire at the eastern Niger bend was powerful in the ninth century CE but later subordinated to Mali until its decline. In 1340 the Songhai people made Gao the capital of a new Songhai Empire.[13]

West Africa

A performance group from Burkina Faso based on the balafon

The coastal nations of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo as well as islands such as Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe include speakers of Kwa, Akan, spoken in Ghana, the Gbe languages, spoken in Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria, of which Ewe is best known, the Yoruba and Igbo languages, spoken in Nigeria and the Benue–Congo languages of the east.

Music of the Western Sahara includes Mande speakers of Mali, Senegal and Mauritania, the Wolof people and the Fula, Senufo speakers of Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.

  • Mande music: the music of Mali is dominated by forms derived from the Mande Empire Their musicians, professional performers called jeliw (sing. jeli, French griot), have produced popular alongside traditional music. Mande languages include Mandinka, Soninke, Bambara, Bissa, Dioula, Kagoro, Bozo, Mende, Susu, Vai and Ligbi: there are populations in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia and, mainly in the northern inland regions, in the south coast states of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
Jola at Boucotte in Casamance (Sénégal) playing the akonting
  • Songhai music, as interpreted by Ali Farka Toure, has gathered international interest for a minor pentatonic lute-and-voice style that is markedly similar to American blues.
  • In Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau the Jola are notable for their stringed instrument the akonting, a precursor of the banjo while the Balanta people, the largest ethnic group of Guinea-Bissau, play a gourd lute instrument called a kusunde or kussundé,[15] similar to the Jola akonting. The short string is at the bottom, the top string of middle length and the middle string is the longest. The tones produced by the instrument are; top string open F#, top string stopped G#, middle string open C#, middle string stopped D#, bottom drone string A#/B.
  • Among Gur-speaking peoples the Dagomba of the north Ghanaian savanna use the lunga talking drum, the gungon, flute, gonje fiddle and bell.[16] Northern Ghana is known for talking drum ensembles, goje fiddle and xalam (or molo) lute music, played by the Frafra, Gurunsi and Dagomba. Similar styles are practised by local Fulani, Hausa, Djerma, Busanga and Ligbi speaking people.
A kora
  • The Lobi and the related Dagaaba people of Ghana and Burkina Faso, the Wala and Gurunsi peoples are known for complex interlocking (double meter) patterns on the xylophone (gyil).

The Gulf of Guinea

The musical ensemble of the chief of Abetifi (Kwahu people) c. 1890[19]
  • Igbo music informs Highlife and Waka. The drum is the most important musical instrument for the Igbo people, used during celebrations, rites of passage, funerals, war, town meetings and other events, and the pot-drum or udu (means "pot") is their most common and popular drum:[20] a smaller variant is called the kim-kim.[21] Igbo Styles include egwu ota. Other nstruments: obo - ufie - ogene,[22] a flat metal pan used as a bell.
  • Yoruba music is prominent in the music of Nigeria and in Afro-Latin and Caribbean musical styles. Ensembles using the talking drum play a type of music that is called dundun after the drum,[23] using various sizes of tension drum along with special band drums (ogido). The leader or oniyalu uses the drum to "talk" by imitating the tonality of Yoruba language. Yoruba music traditionally centred around folklore and spiritual/deity worship, utilising basic and natural instruments such as handclaps. Professional musicians were referred to by the derogatory term of Alagbe.
  • Ewe music, the music of the Ewe people of Ghana, Togo and Benin, is primarily percussive with great metrical complexity. Its highest form is in dance music including a drum orchestra, the Ewe drumming ensembles. Ewe instruments: atsimevu - axatse - gankogui - gboba - kaganu - kidi - simevu - sogo[24] The Ewe have contributed popular styles, especially the agbadza and borborbor, a konkoma highlife fusion that was invented in the early 1950s. The related Aja people are native to south-western Benin and south-eastern Togo and speak a language known as Aja-Gbe. Aja living in Abomey mingled with the local tribe, thus creating the Fon or Dahomey ethnic group, now the largest in Benin. Tchinkoumé.[25]
  • The Akan people include Fante, Ashanti.[26] This category is known for complex court music including the Akan atumpan and Ga kpanlogo styles, and a huge log xylophone used in asonko music. The 10-14 string Seperewa harp-lute and its musical genre is now rare, being replaced with the acoustic guitar. Styles: adaha - agbadza - akwete - ashiko - asonko - gombe[disambiguation needed ] - konkomba - mainline - osibisaba - sikyi. Dances: adowa - osibisaba - sikyi. The Ashanti[27] (Asante) styles: adowa - kete[disambiguation needed ]. Instrumentation = aburukawa - apentemma - dawuro - torowa. Nzema people[18] dance: abissa - fanfare - grolo - sidder. Instrumentation:edengole. Baoulé gbébé - polyphony.[18]
  • Bassa people (Cameroon) originated assiko, a popular dance from the South of Cameroon.[28]
  • Kasena styles: hocket - jongo - len yoro. Instruments: gullu - gungonga - korbala - kornia - sinyegule - wua - yong wui[27]

Music of Cape Verde[31] Styles = batuque - coladera - funaná - morna - tabanca. Instrumentation = gaita - cavaquinho - cimboa - ferrinho - rabeca - violão - viola

Central Africa

The Central African musicological region and the River Congo upon a satellite photograph showing the African tropical rainforest and desert regions.

The central region of African music is defined by the tropical rain-forests at the heart of the continent. However Chad, the northernmost state, has a considerable subtropical and desert northern region.

Northern traditions

  • The Toubou, who live mainly in the north of Chad around the Tibesti mountains and also in Libya, Niger and Sudan, are semi-nomadic herders, Nilo-Saharan speakers, mostly Muslim, numbering roughly 350,000. Their folk music revolves around men's string instruments like the keleli and women's vocal music.[32]

The Pygmy peoples

Distribution of Pygmies according to Cavalli-Sforza
  • The Pygmy peoples have high levels of genetic diversity,[35] yet are extremely divergent from all other human populations, suggesting they have an ancient indigenous lineage, the most ancient divergence after the Southern African Bushmen. It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies living in the Congo rainforest,[36] Most Pygmy communities dwell in tropical forests.[37] with populations in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia.[38] As partial hunter-gatherers, living partially but not exclusively on the wild products of their environment, they trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items.[38] There are several Pygmy groups, the best known being the Mbenga (Aka and Baka) of the western Congo basin, the Mbuti (Efe etc.) of the Ituri Rainforest, and the Twa of the Great Lakes. Pygmy music Includes the Aka, Baka, Mambuti Mbuti and Efé; styles: hindewhu - hocket - likanos - liquindi - lullaby - yelli Instrumentation = flute - ieta - limbindi - molimo - ngombi - trumpet - whistle Other = boona - elima[disambiguation needed ] - jengi - molimo[39] The African Pygmies are particularly known for their usually vocal music, usually characterised by dense contrapuntal communal improvisation.[40] Music permeates daily life and there are songs for entertainment as well as specific events and activities.
  • Bashi[41] Instrumentation = lulanga

Bantu traditions

  • Bemba people of Zambia. (or 'BaBemba' using the Ba- prefix to mean 'people of', and also called 'Awemba' or 'BaWemba' in the past) belong to a large group of peoples mainly in the Northern, Luapula and Copperbelt Provinces of Zambia who trace their origins to the Luba and Lunda states of the upper Congo basin, in what became Katanga Province in southern Congo-Kinshasa (DRC). There are over 30 Bemba clans, named after animals or natural organisms, such as the royal clan, "the people of the crocodile" (Bena Ng'andu) or the Bena Bowa (Mushroom Clan). The Bemba language (Chibemba) is related to the Bantu languages Kaonde (in Zambia and the DRC), Luba (in the DRC), Nsenga and Tonga (in Zambia), and Nyanja/Chewa (in Zambia and Malawi). It is mainly spoken in the Northern, Luapula and Copperbelt Provinces, and has become the most widely spoken African language in the country, although not always as a first language. Bemba numbered 250,000 in 1963 but a much larger population includes some 'eighteen different ethnic groups' who, together with the Bemba, form a closely related ethno-linguistic cluster of matrilineal-matrifocal agriculturalists known as the Bemba-speaking peoples of Zambia. Instrumentation = babatone - kalela[42]

East Africa

African ethnic groups

The East African musicological region, which includes the islands of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar, Réunion, Mauritius, Comor and the Seychelles, has been open to the influence of Arabian and Iranian music since the Shirazi Era. In the south of the region Swahili culture has adopted instruments such as the dumbek, oud and qanun - even the Indian tabla drums.[43] The kabosy, also called the mandoliny, a small guitar of Madagascar, like the Comorian gabusi, may take its name from the Arabian qanbūs. Taarab, a modern genre popular in Tanzania and Kenya, is said to take both its name and its style from Egyptian music as formerly cultivated in Zanzibar. Latterly there have been European influences also: the guitar is popular in Kenya, the contredanse, mazurka and polka are danced in the Seychelles.[44]

Northern traditions

  • The Luo peoples inhabit an area that stretches from Southern Sudan and Ethiopia through northern Uganda and eastern Congo (DRC), into western Kenya and Tanzania and include the Shilluk, Acholi, Lango and Joluo (Kenyan and Tanzanian Luo). Luo Benga music derives from the traditional music of the nyatiti lyre:[45] the Luo-speaking Acholi of northern Uganda use the adungu.[46] Rhythms are characterized by syncopation and acrusis. Melodies are lyrical, with vocal ornamentations, especially when the music carries an important message. Songs are call-and-response or solo performances such as chants, recitatives with irregular rhythms and phrases which carried serious messages. Luo dances such as the dudu were introduced by them. A unique characteristic is the introduction of another chant at the middle of a musical performance. The singing stops, the pitch of the musical instruments go down and the dance becomes less vigorous as an individual takes up the performance in self praise. This is called pakruok. A unique kind of ululation, sigalagala, mainly done by women, marks the climax of the musical performance. Dance styles are elegant and graceful, involving the movement of one leg in the opposite direction to the waist or vigorous shaking of the shoulders, usually to the nyatiti. Adamson (1967) commented that Luos clad in their traditional costumes and ornaments deserve their reputation as the most picturesque people in Kenya. During most of their performances the Luo wore costumes; sisal skirts (owalo), beads (Ombulu / tigo) worn around the neck and waist and red or white clay used by the ladies. The men's costumes included kuodi or chieno, a skin worn from the shoulders or from the waist. Ligisa headgear, shield and spear, reed hats and clubs were made from locally available materials. Luo musical instruments range from percussion (drums, clappers, metal rings, ongeng'o or gara, shakers), nyatiti, a type of lyre; orutu, a type of fiddle), wind (tung' a horn,Asili, a flute, Abu-!, to a specific type of trumpet. In the benga style of music. the guitar (acoustic, later electric) replaced the nyatiti as the string instrument. Benga is played by musicians of many tribes and is no longer considered a purely Luo style.
  • The Music and dance of the Maasai people used no instruments in the past because as semi-nomadic Nilotic pastoralists instruments were considered too cumbersome to move. Traditional Maasai music is strictly polyphonic vocal music, a group chanting polyphonic rhythms while soloists take turns singing verses. The call and response that follows each verse is called namba. Performances are often competitive and divided by age and gender. The neighbouring Turkana people have maintained their ancient traditions, including call and response music, which is almost entirely vocal. A horn made from the kudu antelope is also played. The Samburu are related to the Maasai, and like them, play almost no instruments except simple pipes and a kind of guitar. There are also erotic songs sung by women praying for rain.
  • The Borana live near the Ethiopian border, and their music reflects Ethiopian, Somali and other traditions. They are known also for using the chamonge guitar,[47] which is made from a cooking pot strung with metal wires.

Bantu traditions

Ngbaka-speaking Gbanzili men of the rainforest play xylophones with calabash resonators, 1907.

Drums (ngoma, ng’oma or ingoma) are much used: particularly large ones have been developed among the court musicians of East African kings. The term ngoma is applied to rhythm and dance styles as well as the drums themselves.[43] as among the East Kenyan Akamba, the Buganda of Uganda,[48] and the Ngoni people of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, who trace their origins to the Zulu people people of kwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.[49] The term is also used by the Tutsi/Watusi and Hutu/Bahutu.[50] Bantu style drums, especially the sukuti drums, are played by the Luhya people[47] (also known as Avaluhya, Abaluhya or Luyia),[51] a Bantu people of Kenya,[52] being about 16% of Kenya's total population of 38.5 million, and in Uganda and Tanzania.[52] They number about 6.1 million people.[53] Abaluhya litungo.[45]

  • The Kikuyu are one of the largest and most urbanized communities in Kenya. At the Riuki cultural center in Nairobi traditional songs and dances are still performed by local women, including music for initiations, courting, weddings, hunting, and working. The Kikuyu, like their neighbours the Embu and the Meru are believed to have migrated from the Congo Basin. Meru people like the Chuka, who live near Mount Kenya, are known for polyrhythmic percussion music.
  • The Buganda are a large southern Ugandan population with well-documented musical traditions. The akadinda, a xylophone, as well as several types of drum, is used in the courtly music of the Kabaka or king. Much of the music is based on playing interlocking ostinato phrases in parallel octaves. Other instruments; engelabi, ennanga or (inanga, a harp), entenga. Dance baksimba.
  • The music of Rwanda and Burundi is mainly that of the closely related Tutsi/Watusi and Hutu/Bahutu people. The Royal Drummers of Burundi perform music for ceremonies of birth, funeral and coronation of mwami (kings). Sacred drums (called karyenda) are made from hollowed tree trunks covered with animal skins. In addition to the central drum, Inkiranya, theAmashako drums provide a continuous beat and Ibishikiso drums follow the rhythm established by the Inkiranya. Dancers may carry ornamental spears and shields and lead the procession with their dance. Instrumentation; ikembe - inanga - iningiri - umuduri -ikondera - ihembe - urutaro. Dances: ikinimba-umushayayo - umuhamirizo - imparamba - inkaranka - igishakamba - ikinyemera[50]
  • The ng’oma drumming of Gogo women of Tanzania and Mozambique, like that of the ngwayi dance of northeastern Zambia, uses "interlocking" or antiphonal rhythms that feature in many Eastern African instrumental styles such as the xylophone music of the Makonde dimbila, the Yao mangolongondo or the Shirima mangwilo, on which the opachera, the initial caller, is responded to by another player, the wakulela.[54]
  • The Chopi people of the coastal Inhambane Province are known for a unique kind of xylophone called mbila (pl: timbila) and the style of music played with it, which "is believed to be the most sophisticated method of composition yet found among preliterate peoples."[55] Ensembles consist of around ten xylophones of four sizes and accompany ceremonial dances with long compositions called ngomi which consist of an overture and ten movements of different tempos and styles. The ensemble leader serves as poet, composer, conductor, and performer, creating a text, improvising a melody partially based on the features of the Chopi's tone language, and composing a second countrapuntal line. The musicians of the ensemble partially improvise their parts according to style, instrumental idiom, and the leader's indications. The composer then consults with the choreographer of the ceremony and adjustments are made.[56] Chopi styles: timbala. Instruments: kalimba - mbila - timbila - valimba - xigovia - xipala-pala - xipendane - xitende - xizambe[57] Chopi languages include Tonga. Tonga dance = mganda[58]
  • The Kamba people are known for their complex percussion music and spectacular performances, dances that display athletic skills resemble those of the Tutsi and the Embu. Dances are usually accompanied by songs composed for the occasion and sung on a pentatonic scale. The Akamba also have work songs. Their music is divided into several groups based on age: Kilumi is a dance for mainly elderly women and men performed at healing and rain-making ceremonies,Mbeni for young and acrobatic girls and boys, Mbalya or Ngutha is a dance for young people who meet to entertain themselves after the day's chores are done, Kyaa for the old men and women.Kiveve, Kinze etc. In the Kilumi dance the drummer, usually female, plays sitting on a large mwase drum covered with goatskin at one end and open at the other. The drummer is also the lead singer. Mwali (pl: Myali) is a dance accompanying a song usually made to criticize anti-social behaviour: Mwilu is a circumcision dance.
  • The Gusii people use an enormous lute called the obokano and the ground bow,[47] made by digging a large hole in the ground, over which an animal skin is pegged. A small hole is cut into the skin and a single string placed across the hole.
  • The Mijikenda (literally "the nine tribes") are found on the coast of Tanzania, Kenya and Southern Somalia. They have a vibrant folk tradition perhaps due to less influence from Christian missionaries. Their music is mostly percussion-based and extremely complex. Taarab is a mixture of influences from Arabic, Indian and Mijikenda music found in the coastal regions of Kenya, Zanzibar, Pemba and the islands off East Africa.
  • Yao people (East Africa) dance = beni (music) - likwata[58]

The Indian Ocean

  • Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands, which include Réunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues are noted for the dance/music style sega.[59] Mascarene also maloya music - maloya (ritual). Instrumentation kayamb - maravanne - ravanne - tambour. Madgascar also vakodrazana style, dance basese - salegy - sigaoma - tsapika - watsa watsa. Instrumentation jejy voatavo - kabosy - lokanga - marovany - sodina - valiha. Famadihana ritual, hiragasy theater. Seychellois dance contonbley.[44]

Southern Africa

Lists of folk music traditions
Sub-Saharan Africa
Central America
Middle East & North Africa
North America
Oceania and Australia
South America
  • Bushmen Also Basarwa, Khoe, Khwe, San, !Kung. The Khoisan (also spelled Khoesaan, Khoesan or Khoe-San) is a unifying name for two ethnic groups of Southern Africa who share physical and putative linguistic characteristics distinct from the Bantu majority of the region,[60] the foraging San and the pastoral Khoi. The San include the original inhabitants of Southern Africa before the southward Bantu migrations from Central and East Africa reached their region. Khoi pastoralists apparently arrived in Southern Africa shortly before the Bantu. Large Khoi-san populations remain in several arid areas in the region, notably in the Kalahari Desert. Styles= hocket[61]

The Southern Bantu languages include all of the important Bantu languages of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, and several of southern Mozambique. They have several sub-groups;

  • Sotho music style: mohabelo[62] Sotho: Birwa, Northern Sotho (Pedi), Southern Sotho (Sotho), Lozi. Sotho–Tswana languages; Tswana, Tswapong, Kgalagadi.
  • The Ovambo people number roughly 1,500,000 and consist of a number of kindred groups that inhabit Ovamboland in northern Namibia, forming about half of that state's population, as well as the southernmost Angolan province. Shambo, a traditional dance music, blended Ovambo music previously popularised by folk guitarist Kwela, Kangwe Keenyala, Boetie Simon, Lexington and Meme Nanghili na Shima with a dominant guitar, rhythm guitar, percussion and a heavy "talking" bassline. The Herero, with about 240,000 members, mostly in Namibia, the remainder living in Botswana and Angola speak a similar language, as do the Himba people. Herero people oviritje, also known as konsert, has become popular in Namibia. The Damara are genetically Bantu but speak the "click" language of the bushmen. Ma/gaisa or Damara Punch is a popular dance music genre that derives from their traditional music.
  • Pedi[62] Styles = harepa Instrumentation = harepa


  • Aburukuwa
  • Atoke
  • Brekete - used especially by the Gorovodu, a vodun order of the Anlo and Ewe peoples.
  • Axatse - a rattle or idiophone.
  • Fontomfrom - the royal talking drum of the Akan peoples.
  • Kaganu - a narrow drum or membranophone.
  • Kidi - a drum about two feet tall
  • Kloboto
  • Kpanlogo
  • Prempensua - large thumb piano.
  • Totodzi
  • Seprewa - 6-10 stringed harp of the Akan and Fante peoples of south and central Ghana, used in an old genre of praise music.
  • Sogo - the largest of the supporting drums used to play in Atsiã

Lobi xylophone.[18] Goun kakagbo - hongan[25][disambiguation needed ]

  • Calabash - A dried calabash bowl turned upside down and hit with the fist and fingers wearing rings. Used as accompaniment to melodic instruments
  • Flutes
  • Goonji/Gonjey/Goge - Traditional one stringed-fiddle played by a majority of other sahelian groups in West Africa.
  • Gungon - Bass snare drum of the Lunsi ensemble. Of northern origin, it is played thoughout Ghana by various groups, known by southern groups as brekete. Related to the Dunun drums of other West African peoples.
  • Gyil - large resonant Xylophones, related to the Balafon.
  • Gyilgo - small pentatonic thumb piano.
  • Koloko - Varieties of Sahelian lute. Varieties include the one-stringed 'Kolgo/Koliko' of Gur-speaking groups, the two-stringed 'Molo' of the Zabarma and Fulani minorities, or the two-stringed 'Gurumi' of the Hausa.
  • Lunna/Kalangu - Varieties of Hourglass-shaped Talking drums.
  • Musical bow - known as 'Jinjeram' (in Gurunsi) or Jinjeli (in Mossi-Dagomba languages).
  • Shekere
  • Whistles
  • Horns

Comorian msondo - ndzendze.[44] Zaramo dance/instrument msondo - also ngoma.[43] Lango okeme.[46] Busoga panpipe[66]

African dances


Gerewol.[68] Dan people masked dance.[18] Yoruba gelede.[23] Hausa asauwara[69] Ewe dances: agbadza - Gadzo.[24] Mande include the Mandinka, Maninka and Bamana Dances: bansango - didadi - dimba - sogominkum.[70] Dagomba dance: takai - damba - jera - simpa - bamaya- tora[disambiguation needed ] - geena.[disambiguation needed ] São Tomé and Principe dance: danço-congo - puíta - ússua.[30] Cape Verde[31] Dance = batuque - coladera - funaná - morna - tabanca. Kasena Dances: jongo - nagila - pe zara - war dance.[27]


  • Chewa people Dance = gule wa mkulu - nyau[49]
  • Lomwedance = tchopa[58]
  • Luvale dance = manchancha[42]
  • Nyanja dance = chitsukulumwe - gule wa mkulu - likhuba[58]
  • Tumbuka dance = vimbuza[58]
  • Kaondedance kachacha[42]
  • Henga dance = vimbuza[58]


  1. ^ Jones, A.M. (1959), Studies in African Music, London: Oxford University Press. 1978 edition: ISBN 978-0-19-713512-9.
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