Senalé Malin / Mapouka - West Africa - Balafonrhythms - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic balafon

Senalé Malin / Mapouka

Last updated on 27 September 2021

Dutch French

S/M Senalé Malin is a rhythm from West Africa with a Bobo / Bwaba song. A boy is singing about his girl. That smart girl! He loves her, but she is far away. If she doesn’t come back, he will have to take another girl. In the second sentence of the song, a call is immediately made (to a possible candidate) to take a “walk” together. In the song the choir singing can always consist of “Hanzounou” with alternating high and low singing. In the second melody the word “Hanzounou” is omitted several times. You can choose from three sentences for repeated use or to place all three behind each other in a sentence. Nowadays the song is also called “Mapouka”, la Danse de Fez (the dance of the butt’s). Jenny Huijnen made a variation on Pattern A.

Sénalé Malin Hanzounou 4x

Sénalé Malin, Sénalé Malin, Sénalé Malin Hanzounou
Bwe wa le na ngwa, Bwe wa le na ngwa, Bwe wa le na ngwa Hanzounou
Bwe wa le fe we, Bwe wa le fe we, Bwe wa le fe we Hanzounou
We zou bjo wa we ve, We zou bjo wa we ve , We zou bjo wa we ve Hanzounou
Sénalé Malin, Bwe wa le fe we, We zou bjo wa we ve Hanzounou

sénalé = far away / malin = smart / hanzounou = young woman, if you, as a female balafonist, just want to turn the text around, instead of just singing ‘Hanzounou’ (= young woman) you just sing Bo ‘Yaro’ (= young (Bobo) man)!


Mapouka (also called macouka) is a traditional dance from the Dabou area in the southeast of Ivory Coast, which originated among the Aizi, Alladian and Avikam people. It is also known as “la danse du fessier” or “the dance of the rear”.

Senale Malin - Mapouka

The dance is usually performed by women, who shake their butts side by side, looking away from their audience, often leaning forward. The globally popular twerking dance has been attributed to the Mapouka dance through popular media, with some claiming that its historically correct origin remains the ‘bump’.

In the 1980s, Ivory Coast artists tried to popularize it without much success after noticing the popularity of the bump in the United States. One of the best known groups is Tueuses de Mapouka. In 1998, the Ivory Coast government banned its actions in public. After the ban, the dance enjoyed a very fast-growing global following, especially in the sub-Saharan countries and western countries with large French-speaking communities. (source: wikipedia)


Youssouf & Kassoum Keita, Konsankuy, Mali 2011,
Youssouf Keita, Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, 2017

update history
  • 27 September 2021: Layout adjusted (fewer pages)
  • 29 March 2021: Additional information on Mapouka and layout PDF adjusted (some variants removed).
  • 16 June 2019: Patterns builduing up in difficulty
  • January 2018: New!
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