Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jola (Diola) Music & Dance (West Africa) With Clave-Like Instruments

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents seven videos of Jola (Diola) music and dance, with special focus on the clave-like instrument that is played by the female singers/dancers.* Information about the Jola (Diola) people is also included in this post.

*"Claves... are a percussion instrument (idiophone), consisting of a pair of short (about 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in), thick dowels. Traditionally they were made of wood...Qhen struck they produce a bright clicking noise."

I don't know the name of the Jola instrument that I'm referring to as a "clave-like instrument". If you know the name of this instrument, please add it in the comment section of this post. Thanks in advance!

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks to all those who keep the dance and music traditions of Africa alive. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

"The Jola (Diola, in French transliteration) are an ethnic group found in Senegal (where they predominate in the region of Casamance), the Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. There are great numbers on the Atlantic coast between the southern banks of the Gambia River, the Casamance region of Senegal and the northern part of Guinea-Bissau. The Jola are believed to have preceded the Mande and Fula peoples in the riverine coast of Senegambia and may have migrated into Casamance before the 13th century. The Jola and Serer people with whom they have an ancient relationship with[2] are believed to be some of the oldest historical inhabitants of the Senegambia Region.[3] The Jola language is distinct from the Dioula language of the Dioula (Dyoula) Mande people of the Gambia,
Upper Niger and the Kong highlands of Burkina Faso."

..."The Jola, Manjak (Manjaco, Manjago), Bujogo (Bijago), Papel, and Balanta are neighboring rice-farming peoples with similar cultures and social systems. Their traditional village-based agrarian societies are non-hierarchical without the tripartite caste system of their Mande, Wolof, and Fulbe (Fula, Fulani, Peul) neighbors. This being the case, these people have no griot caste nor do they have traditions of professional/semi-professional music-making and praise-singing (i.e. composing and performing laudatory songs for gratuities). Amongst the Jola, Manjak, Bujogo, Papel, and Balanta, playing the lute-- like all other forms of music-making-- is a vernacular social activity open to all, rather than being the exclusive domain of specialist music/word artisans...

While Daniel [Laemouahuma Jatta, the Jola scholar from The Gambia] set about his work to preserve and perpetuate the ekonting in Gambia, the instrument was faring a little better in neighboring Casamance, the crucible of the tradition. Unlike the Gambian Jola, the Jola are the largest ethnic group in Casamance with something like two-thirds of the total population of that region. This is the heartland of the Jola people and culture, especially in Lower Casamance, the region along the southwestern shores of the Casamance River.

According to some tradition-bearers, the actual birthplace of the ekonting is the village of Kanjanka in Lower Casamance...

Thanks to the crucial ground-breaking work of Daniel Jatta and others, there is growing global awareness of ekonting (akonting) and its siblings in the large diverse family of West African folk/artisan lutes, which have been hitherto overlooked. These instruments are just now beginning to get the international recognition and attention they deserve as living ancestors of the banjo. Many museums around the world have updated their collections to include the ekonting and other members of the West African folk/artisan lute family, while banjo historians and ethnomusicologists have begun to broaden the range of their focus to take these instruments.

Author: Oko Drammeh"

These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting dates with the oldest examples given first.

As somewhat of an aside, notice the number of videos that include the saxophone being played with this traditional music.

Video #1: Mike Bennett presents...Jola dance

Omarmane, Uploaded on May 3, 2008

Captured by Mike Bennett in Kafountine, Senegal. This is the dance style of the Jola tribe.
cavaleer2, a commenter wrote "These rhythms are SMOKIN! Love Bugarabou. Respect from USA. That's a touch dance too.”
Click for information about the Jola drums known as "bougarabou".

Video #2: Mike Bennett presents...more Jola dance

omarmane, Uploaded on Jul 23, 2009

In the beautiful village of Kafountine, Senegal.

Video #3: Jola at Lamin-Feb 2010

platini64, Uploaded on Apr 7, 2010

Jola music at a wedding in Gambia(Feb 2010). More at

Video #4: Jola Music Performance at The Roots Festival Gambia

HarmattanProductions, Uploaded on Sep 23, 2011

Music Tradition of Jola (Diola) people in Gambia. Filmed at The Roots Festival, Gambia

Video #5: gambia jolas dance

BUBACARY SILLAH, Published on Dec 11, 2012
Commenter sam12508 wrote in 2014:
"To be honest, we the Gambians are the same blood relatives. It doesn't whether you are Mandinka, Jola, Fula, Serehule, Wollof, Manjago, Karonika or whatever tribes you belong to we are the same blood relative...whether you are Muslim, Christian Gambians or not we still the same blood under one family umbrella. I am a Madinka tribe man living in USA but i love all the tribes in the Gambia. Keep up my sisters and brothers Jola. Nice dance"

Video #6: CASAMANCE - Mariage Diola IgoRama

Tapha Diedhiou, Published on Jan 6, 2013

Mariage de Cheikh Sémou DIEDHIOU et de Rama Dia, oussouye, le 26 décembre 2010.

Video #7: Traditional African dance. Diola. Cap Skiring. Casamance.Senegal.

Андрей Сапронов, Published on Jan 12, 2014

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