Makousa - West Afrika - Balafonrhythems - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic balafon


Last updated on 7 November 2021

Dutch French

M Makossa (Makousa, Makoussa) is a music style from Cameroon. In the Douala language from Cameroun, it literally means “I dance”. Manu Dibango (from Kameroun) had a minor hit with the song ‘Makossa‘ (according to some, the very first disco song!). Daga Madou Coulibali, from Kouana, in Mali, father-in-law of Youssouf Keita, has transformed the song for balafon in Bwaba tradition.

Apolo Makousa, Apolo Makousa, (2x)
Wa la le bwa Makousa (or also ‘wa la la bjo Makousa’)

In Dioula, ‘Makoussa’ is said to mean ‘adversity in life’ or ‘misfortune’. This may have given it the meaning of ‘I dance in the face of (or in spite of) adversity in life. ‘Apolo’ seems to be an ethnic group in the Ivory Coast. ‘Wa la la bwa’ (in Bwaba) = I believe it, it is true!

Michael Jackson was inspired by Manu 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
  • 7 November 2021: Complete makeover PDF, also changed some tekst.
  • 4 October 2018: Patterns building up in difficulty
  • December 2017: New!
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