Makousa - West Afrika - Balafonrhythems - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic balafon


Last updated on 1 November 2019

M Makousa is a rhythm from Mali / Burkina Faso. Manou Dibango (from Kameroun) had a small hit with it (according to some the first disco-song!). Daga Madou Coulibali, from Kouana, in Mali, father-in-law of Youssouf Keita, has transformed the song for balafon. Makossa is a music style from Kameroun. In the Douala language from Kameroun it literally means “I dance”. In the Bambara / Dioula, Makoussa would mean ‘adversity in life’ or ‘bad luck’. Apolo (in Djoula) is an eye infection. A kind of eye irritation that lasts about 2 to 3 weeks, and which is believed to be transmissible by looking at someone(!). Apolo also appears to be an ethnic group in Ivory Coast. Wa la la bwa (in the Bwaba) = I believe it, it’s true!

Apolo Makousa, Apolo Makousa, (2x)
Wa la le bwa Makousa (or also Wa la la Bjo Makousa)

Michael Jackson was inspired by Manou Dibango for the song “I want to be starting’ something”.

I said you wanna be starting something, You got to be starting something
It’s too high to get over, too low to get under
You’re stuck in the middle, and the pain is thunder
mama se, mama sa ma makousa
(Inspired by that, I made patterns C and D myself)


Above is a recording made in Konsankuy in Mali in 2011. Three balafons are played by Youssouf Keita, Kassim Keita and Ali Keita (soloist).


Aly, Youssouf & Kassoum Keita, Konsankuy, Mali, January 2011,
Youssouf Keita, Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, January 2016 / 2017.

Update history
  • 1 November 2019: Extra pattern; pattern E
  • 4 October 2018: Patterns building up in difficulty
  • December 2017: New!
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