Books  Regional Natural History  Africa 

Music of the Nkundo

By: B Quersin

Royal Museum for Central Africa / Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale

Audio CD | Dec 2008 | #173659
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £16.20 inc VAT $20/€18 approx

About this product

The Nkundo are part of the large ethnic group, the Mongo, who inhabit almost the entire central basin of the D.R of Congo, between the large curve of the river Congo and the Kasa#. Their land begins at the river's large marshes at Mbandaka, 330 metres below sea level, and crosses the highest plateaux, some of which rise to a height of 500 metres, in the direction of Kisangani.

The art of speech, music, song and dance are very highly developed. The epic, Nsong'a Lianja, is certainly one of the prime examples of the genre in central Africa, and the music and dance connected with the Bobongo-Iyaya are among the most important artistic art forms in the Congo. The bobongo is at once a ritual, a spectacle and a celebration. It consists of polyphonic songs and exceptionally varied dances. These are performed in several sequences according to a well-defined order: baasa, wamba, iyaya, ibuleyo.

The groups, comprising around twenty dancers and singers, are composed either of men or women, but are never mixed. The leader, the nyangiobongo, is chosen by the inhabitants and important members of the village. In addition to his role as principal soloist, it is his responsibility to decide the order of the texts, proverbs, songs and dances, etc., to lead the most important parts of the performance and, in general, to conduct the whole spectacle. The group is completed by a number of assistant soloists, instrumentalists and the choir of singer-dancers.

The music of the bobongo is essentially vocal and the accompanying instruments are few in number but nonetheless indispensable. These are the bokwasa, isanga, elepo,and ikokole.

There is a similar type of spectacle to mark the end of the wale. The vocal organisation and melodic style are very close to those of the bobongo, even though a large number of these melodies are specifically wale.

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