Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

Mafa Traditional music 1: Houdok

Le Houdok est une musique traditionnelle Mafa qui se distingue des autres par son caractère hautement formel et artistique. Il est régi par des règles non écrites, mais strictes, liant l’utile à l’agréable, la diversité à l’unité, les signes aux expressions verbales, le tout dans un univers très mélodieux. Historiquement, le peuple Mafa le danse au clair de lune, en cercle, au son de divers instruments et dans une tenue spéciale qui arbore, entre autres, des ornements faits à base de peaux de mouton (mamli tambak). 

Les chants sont exécutés sous divers tons, chacun portant un message particulier en toute liberté, mais en harmonie avec la mélodie dominante. L’audio ci-dessous, qui date du 13 avril 1976, le démontre parfaitement:

Credit: Yves le Bléis

Nous y trouvons une clé importante pour l’herméneutique de la culture; les Mafa sont un peuple attaché à sa communauté mais jaloux de sa liberté individuelle. Les thèmes abordés pendant le Houdok sont très variés.

Les chants traduisent les joies et les peines de la vie quotidienne, les leçons de morale,   et principalement l’amour. Matasay Laye, dévoile avec doigté certaines expressions consacrées au milieu des années 1970:

Source: Yves le Blés

D’ailleurs, le Houdok est organisé de telle sorte qu’il donne l’occasion à un homme de déclarer publiquement sa flamme à une potentielle âme soeur. Pour le faire, il quitte le cercle d’un pas cadencé pour mettre son boulier ou son bâton sur la tête l’élue de son coeur. Sans perdre le rythme, il rejoint le cercle et continue la danse comme si de rien n’était.

Pour faciliter cet acte, pendant la représentation, les dames, castagnettes attachées aux pieds, sont exclusivement au milieu du ring, entourées et protégées par un cercle d’homme messieurs bien équipés pour parer à toute éventualité: bouclier (gambar), couteau de jet (zhengezhe), bâton (gada)… Il convient aussi de préciser que, pour le Houdok, les pas de danse des femmes sont distincts de ceux des hommes. La jeune génération est vivement encouragée à revenir à l’orthodoxie dans ce domaine.

Une exception mérite d’être signalée tout de même. Moskota a developpé un style de Houdok propre à lui et reconnu comme tel par certains érudits qui précisent “Houdok Moskota”. Voici trois enregistrements audio du Houdok de Moskota qui datent des années 1970.

Credit: Yves le Bléis

Traditionnellement, le Houdok se danse pendant les mois qui précèdent la saison des pluies. Il n’est jamais exécuté pendant la saison des pluies ou des récoltes. Deux autres musiques sont dédiées à la récolte: le Zovad et le N’golala. En somme, Le Houdok, distinct du Ndalinga, est formel, extrêmement riche (dans l’art, le rythme et le contenu), et a des règles strictes.

Houdok is a traditional Mafa music distinguished from others by its highly formal and artistic character. It is governed by unwritten but strict rules, linking business to pleasure, diversity to unity, signs and verbal expressions, all in a very harmonious universe. Historically, the Mafa people dance it in the moonlight, in a circle, to the sound of various instruments, and in a particular outfit that features, among other things, ornaments made from sheepskin (mamli tambak).

People perform the songs in various tones, each carrying a particular message freely but in harmony with the dominant melody. The following audio, taped on April 13, 1976 illustrates this reality wonderfully:

Credit: Yves le Bléis

We find here an important key for the hermeneutics of culture; the Mafa are a people attached to their community but jealous of their individual freedom.The songs reflect the joys and sorrows of everyday life, moral lessons, and mainly love.

Matasay Laye, reveals with tact some consecrated expressions of the mid-1970s:

Moreover, the Houdok is such that it allows a man to declare his love for a potential soul mate publicly. To do so, he leaves the circle quickly to put his shield or stick on the head of his beloved. Without losing the rhythm, he joins the ring and continues the dance as if nothing had happened. To facilitate this action, during the performance, the ladies, castanets attached to their feet, are exclusively in the middle of the ring, surrounded and protected by a circle of well-equipped gentlemen to deal with any eventuality: shield (gambar), quiver (godoma), bow (lekeɗ), throwing knife (zhengezhe), stick (gada)… In the case of a surprise attack or war, they were ready to face the enemies without going through the house. It should be noted that, for the Houdok, the dance steps of women are distinct from those of men. The younger generation is strongly encouraged to return to orthodoxy in this area.

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An exception deserves to be pointed out all the same. Moskota has developed a style of Houdok specific to him and recognized as such by certain scholars who specify “Hudok Moskota”. Here are three audio recordings of Moskota’s Houdok from the 1970s.

Credit: Yves le Bléis

Traditionally, the Mafa dance the Houdok during the months preceding the rainy season. They never perform it during the rainy or harvest season. The two types of music for harvesting time are the Zovad and the N’golala. In sum, Houdok, distinct from Ndalinga, is formal, extremely rich (in art, rhythm, and content), and has strict rules.

Prof. Moussa Bongoyok

Copyright (c) 2022

WHO WILL LIVE FOR THOSE WHO NO LONGER HAVE HEADS? A shout in the desert of International Community

You didn’t hear… or did you hide willingly under the bed of abstraction?

Maybe you did hear about Boko Haram and other terrorist movements in action…

But, you see, your geography professor told you as did your musician,

With all the calm and seriousness of an academician,

That Kousseri, Maroua, Mora, Tourou, Moskota, Koza, Ouzal, Mozogo,

And other localities or infrahuman countries must go,

Because their humanity index is so low, and,

They are located on an unknown planet, the land of tomorrow.

Why worry about the future

While one calmly drinks today’s culture?


Maybe you didn’t see what is happening on social media as your soul became a taro…

Because, above all, you must set your economic priorities right to beat the antihero

And accumulate as much power and things as you can carry in your empty barrow.

Your business professor told you so, with his academic sombrero.

Your financial advisor is such a genius so different from the harrow

That you gather things, things and more things, and the great dinero.

You eat power, power and more power over bones without a marrow.

Aren’t they mere keys to your success today and tomorrow?

Your eyes can’t see while you dream to be the next pharaoh

And, after all, your neighbor is just a dried arrow!


Who will cry for those who no longer have heads?

Who will become a shelter for those who no longer have beds?

Who will eat for those who can no longer smell the odor of fresh breads?

Who will bring joyous colors to lives painted in multiple reds?

Who will tell Europe, America, Asia and others, that Boko Haram spreads

Faster and deeper than the swiftest fighters and meds?

Who will act? Who will dig? Who will lovingly address the roots

Instead of relying solely on boots?


Oh! I wish you and I were the recovered triumphant shouts of the voiceless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the beautiful tears of the tearless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the real wealth of the resourceless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the reconstructed ramparts of the powerless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the regained smiles of the hopeless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the lost but found face of the faceless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the living image of the divine rock for the baseless!

Oh! I wish you and I were the real value of lives so priceless!

Regardless of our religious backgrounds, we are all humans;

Would you and I actively navigate against the currents and stop treating others as subhumans?


Moussa Bongoyok, PhD

Professor of Intercultural Studies and Holistic Development

President of Institut Universitaire de Développement International (IUDI)