Benou Pa A - Bwaba - Bobo - Balafonrhythms - Paul Nas
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Pentatonische balafoon

Benou Pa A

Nieuw op 27 februari 2023

Dutch French

B Benou Pa A is a rhythm of the Bwa or Bwaba, from Burkina Faso and Mali. This piece dates back to the time before the colonialization by the French when there was no Mali or Burkina Faso yet, but a “Bwaba country” on the border of present-day Mali and Burkina. At the time, the “Chef de Village” (mayor of the village) was a title passed from father to son. Sometimes to a brother, but never to a son as long as he still had a father. The Chef de Village was supported by the “Griot” (whose family could never be “Chef de Village”). The Griot was also there to support all the people of the village. With this song, the Griot sang the leadership of the chef de village. As he did so, the chef danced solo in front of his people (maybe not alone, but with space around him). A nice slow, dignified pace, and the chef had his stick with it. When several chefs came together, they were also praised (and applauded) for their leadership. At the installation of a new Chef de Village, all chefs from the neighboring villages were invited. They then came with their griot and during this song the griots took turns to honor their own boss. That could turn into a marathon session. The gist of the song is that leadership cannot be bought (but is inherited) and has a power in it. This rhythm is played exclusively within the Bwa ethnic group and it is a melody that the Griot play.

= chef, Bènou = leadership, Pa A = strenght of.

Bènou pa a, ma jèrè pa a ma ye wo
Taouwè benou pa a san jèrè, ho pa a ma ye wo

During several visits to Burkina we also visited the village of Ouezendougou. Here I worked on a project in which, among other things, an extra classroom was realized. We also supported a garden project there that not only provided the women of Ouezendougou with healthy fruit and vegetables from their own cultivation. By working together in the garden, a whole emancipation process started and the role of the women in the village has been strengthened forever.

Benou Pa A

Here is a picture of the man who was ‘chef de village’ during one of the visits. Virtually blind, but with dignity and wisdom, decisions are made.


Youssouf Keïta, Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, February 2018

update history
  • 1 maart 2023: Published English and French versions on the website
  • 16 October 2020: English and French versions
  • 18 May 2020: Dutch version new on website
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