Sama Ouara - Balafon - rhythmes - Bobo - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic balafon

Sama Ouara

Last updated 17 October 2021

Dutch French

S Sama Ouara (Sama Wara, Samawara) is the name of a rhythm from the country of the Bobo, which today lies in the border area between Mali and Burkina Faso. The title refers to several things: For example, it is the name of a plant that releases those sticky balls that stick to your clothes. But it is also the name of a dance that the (Bobo) women like to dance. The meaning of both comes together in this balafon piece. All Bobo, all over the world, know the dance in which the knees are alternately brought to and from each other. Then one leg is swung sideways out, followed by the other leg to the other side. “It is the woman I love; come and dance! ” In the lyrics of the song it is explained how a boy who likes and wants to approach a girl should do that; He treats her with respect!

Yaro you ha o wee pwa lo wa
(when a boy likes a girl,)

Twa njou twa ti, o pwalo wa
(he should caress her oncve and twice)

Sama Ouara wa bi ri té (2x)
(twa njou = one time, twa ti = two times)

Although we first learned pattern A during the workshop, Youssouf and Kassim played with pattern B as a guide during their “version natural”. Pattern A was used by the Kassim (soloist) during playing and singing at the same time.

This is a fragment of Sama Ouara (Sama Wara) where the song is rehearsed with Kassim Keita during the workshop in 2011.

On Spotify you can listen to a fairly traditional version from the album Aira Yo by the ‘Famille Dembele”: here.  It is a performance on the equi-pentatonic balafon, one in which the pitch distances within an octave are all equal.

Sama Ouara

Famille Dembele

‘Natural’ version

With traditional dance

Zouratié Koné Ensemble

Moussa Coulibali Balafon Schule Berlin


Youssouf & Kassoum Keita, Konsankuy, Mali 2012
Hakiri Koeta, Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso 2015.

update history
  • 17 October 2021: minor corrections in pattern E, some text changes and shortened layout.
  • 24 December 2020: added more Percussion accompaniment
  • 29 November 2020: Small improvement in Pattern E.
  • 17 November 2020: new insight! ;new patterns as a result of studying videos, fixed some layout flaws, added new percussion accompaniment inspired by the song Samawara from album Aira Yo from ‘Famille Dembele’.
  • 9 October 2020: Found more videos on Youtube and a Spotify album. Furthermore, the text has been adjusted.
  • 7 September 2018: New!
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